Vote for Manuel

This semester, we are holding our first-ever elections for the steering committee of the Hispanic Caucus at Virginia Tech. I am nominated for the Chair position and this document constitutes my Candidate Statement. So, read on and during the April 21st-April 25th, go online and vote.

The following sections include, in my opinion, the most pressing issues that we, Hispanic and Latinos, face at Virginia Tech today.

Faculty & Staff retention issues

The 2005 Faculty Perceptions Climate study found that "Regardless of race, views about departmental climate are relatively positive, but Hispanics have a pattern of somewhat less positive views." Since 2006, 4 Tenure Track professors have left VT. When you consider that there are less than 30 of us on campus (as of Fall 2007 there were only 26 Hispanic Tenure Track faculty at VT), 4 professors leaving in such a short time frame is a serious matter. We cannot afford to loose more faculty to a "less positive" environment. We need to be proactive in identifying what are the issues that we are facing at VT and how to address them. In addition, it is not clear if the situation is the same or not for the staff at VT. Are they facing a "less positive" climate too?

As chair of the caucus, I will make an effort to identify the causes that make the climate "less positive" for our group. Together with other members of the caucus, I will make an effort to talk to those that have left VT and to get a sense of why they have left the university. The findings will be shared with university officials with the purpose of identifying strategies that might ameliorate the problems.

Mentoring Young Faculty

A strong mentoring program is essential to guarantee a successful tenure case for minority faculty. I believe the HFSC should work together with the Black Caucus and the LGBTA to establish a pool of senior professors who are willing to mentor young professors. In addition, I propose we have a meeting with untenured professors every semester to hear their concerns and provide our support.

Regular Communication with Administration

I propose we have a yearly meeting with Dr. Mark McNamee to discuss the issues and concerns that we are facing. I have found Dr. McNamee to be a strong supporter of the minorities on campus. I also propose that we hold a regular meeting with the new Vice President for Multicultural Affairs, Kevin McDonald, to explore how the issues we are facing relate to the issues faced by other minority groups on campus. It is possible that we face similar problems and thus a common set of solutions might be required.

Increase Communication with Hispanic/Latino Community in VA

We need more communication with high school students and their parents in VA. At one point we had a Spanish page as part of the VT website. We need to renew that effort and continue making our presence felt in the state. We need to continue collaborating with the VT Admissions office (as we have been doing) in recruitment and orientation activities. Finally, we need to increase the visibility of the Hispanic/Latino Faculty/Staff at VT; we should build a profile database in our website to include personal information, such as country of origin/heritage and other personal traits that will help future students identify personally with our members.

Establish a Yearly Awards Dinner

Together with the different Hispanic/Latino student associations on campus, we need to establish some form of recognition for faculty and staff that have shown excellence representing our community in the VT campus and across the nation. The awards should be given at a yearly dinner where all faculty, staff, students, and families can get together to celebrate our heritage. This activity should take place during the Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month, and it should grow to be the largest activity of that month of celebration.

Other issues that I am interested to discuss:

  • Collaborate with other caucuses (Black, LGBTA) on campus to work together to improve the environment for our groups on campus.
  • Collaborate with Hispanic/Latino students organizations to help identify the problems they are facing.
  • Expand the reach of the caucus to include more Latinos (currently Brazilians are not represented in the Caucus).

In summary, vote for me.

April 14, 2007

Posted on 04/16/2008