Members of the Chicago City Council Latino Caucus met with University of Illinois at Chicago Chancellor Michael Amiridis, U of I trustees, and other university officials on Oct. 22nd to discuss how Latinos are performing at UIC, Chicago’s largest university, and to explore ways of creating more working partnerships to help the institution do even more for the communities it serves.
Amiridis said UIC could be the gateway for the development of the West Side and nearby communities such as Pilsen, Chinatown, and North Lawndale.
Alderman George Cardenas of the 12th Ward, chair of the Latino caucus, said his members will create a scholarship fund to help Latino students succeed at UIC and other area universities, including those who are undocumented.
With U of I trustees Ricardo Estrada and Ray Cepeda in attendance, Amiridis addressed key issues related to the Latino experience at UIC, including enrollment and graduation rates and faculty recruitment and retention.
From 2000 to 2009, UIC’s Latino graduation rate steadily climbed by 14 percentage points, to 54 percent, Amiridis said, citing the most recent six-year cohort data, a national standard for graduation-rate comparison of colleges.
“The graduation gap is now about 13 percentage points between Latinos and the general student population,” Amiridis said, adding that the University is working to reduce that gap by focusing on the numerous reasons students drop out, with financial issues being among the top causes.
Amiridis said help is needed from Springfield, as UIC has received only about half of its state allocation under this year’s stop-gap budget.
UIC set a new record enrollment this fall with a total of 29,120 students. Latinos in the incoming undergraduate class numbered 1,272, or 38.5 percent of all freshmen.
The overall student body continues to reflect UIC’s commitment to diversity, with a makeup that is 36.2 percent white, 22.6 percent Latino, 18.6 percent Asian, and 8 percent African American.
By Miguel Alba