Hodges University, in conjunction with several leaders within the local Hispanic Community, has announced the formation of a Hispanic Institute. The Institute, based at Hodges, will seek to address important issues that affect the Hispanic community.
Dr. Terry McMahan, President of Hodges University, feels that the need for a local Hispanic Institute is long overdue. “The demographic realities of our region of Florida illustrate a continuing expansion of the Hispanic community, therefore we feel it important to establish this Institute,” he said. “The goal for the Institute is to be recognized as a leader within the Lee and Collier Counties that informs policy-makers about issues vital to the Hispanic community and to provide this community with information and analysis necessary for effective participation by its members in providing public policy development.
“Hodges University will be fully committed to providing the necessary resources to ensure the vitality of the Institute and its objectives. We plan to be the leading resource for meeting Hispanic community concerns in our area.”
Leonardo Garcia, executive director of the Southwest Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, is also part of the initial task force formulating the mission and principles of the Institute. “We have such an important need for a Hispanic institute in our area,” said Garcia. “The fact that Hodges University is taking a leadership in forming this initiative is a historical step. We as a chamber of commerce applaud Hodges and stand behind them in making sure this initiative is a successful one for all of us. Anything that will enhance or elevate facilitate the economic and educational development of the Hispanic community is welcomed by our members and our leadership.”
The primary objectives of the Institute are:
- To provide a forum for public policy matters and to promote a better understanding of the political process and public policy and how that impacts the Hispanic community;
- To understand the educational needs of Hispanic students and promote solutions and/or opportunities to address these needs;
- To undertake research projects that expand an overall awareness of the Hispanic community’s needs;
- To provide community outreach programs that offer practical mentoring and information, bringing together the various Hispanic cultures in our area, and helping them to better assimilate into the larger American mainstream community.
Attending the conference announcing the formation of the Institute was Dr. Miren Uriarte, director of the Gaston Institute at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. The Gaston Institute is being used as a model for the Hodges initiative. “Dr. Uriarte has a wealth of experience in being an advocate of the Hispanic community and in policy-making research designed to assist the Hispanic community in Massachusetts,” said McMahan. “We hope her expertise will assist us in the continuing development and implementation of our Institute and its goals.”