The University of Oklahoma has been named a top 50 best college for Latino students by Latino Leaders, a magazine dedicated to connecting and inspiring future leaders. The publication honors academic institutions that have excelled in serving the Latino student population.
“This recognition is an exciting honor for the university, which has focused on prioritizing diversity and inclusion,” said OU President David L. Boren. “This achievement is a true testament to the successes of our diverse student body and inclusive university community.”
The publication selected the 50 colleges and universities from more than 600 institutions that were evaluated based on their outstanding demonstration of student enrollment, faculty environment and recruitment, diversity driven strategies and programs directed to Latino student populations.
Latino students represent the second-largest minority in the 2017 freshman class, which is the most diverse class in the university’s history. Latino students achieved a retention rate of 92.8 percent, and enrollment of Latino freshmen at OU has increased by 18 percent in the past two years.
"This university feels like a home for Latino and Hispanic students. It brings familiar values together when students enter into something such as higher education; a frontier that many haven't had the privilege of traversing,” said current OU student Carlos Ismael Rubio Regalado. “It promotes a sense of inclusivity and unity as the university hosts some of the largest Latino and Hispanic cultural events in a state where the two demographics continue to increase in population. Not to mention the tremendous faculty and staff that stand alongside students as champions in their collegiate experience. It truly feels like a home."
“It is my honor and privilege to work closely with a number of our incoming freshmen from diverse populations across the nation,” said Jessica Martinez-Brooks, director of Diversity and Enrichment Programs. “Our staff helps students, who are often the first in their family to go to college, navigate the application process in order for them to not only have access but also create a smooth transition from high school to college. In the years to come, it is my hope OU will continue to be reflective of the growing diversity of our nation and ensure students have programs and leadership experiences necessary to further their professional development to lead the next generation.”
The university champions diversity in recruitment through such programs as First Sooner, which offers informational sessions in Norman and Tulsa to aid first-generation students in the college application process; Spanish-language tours during Sooner Saturday, the university’s annual high school student recruitment event, that give Latino students and their families a comprehensive campus experience; and Latinos Without Borders, a conference geared toward high school students that takes place each fall and spring. Additionally, first-generation and underrepresented student populations at OU can participate in Project Threshold, which works to ensure a successful transition to college life by providing such support services as academic advising, enrollment assistance, computer lab access and tutoring services.
To meet the growing demand for an expanded Latino academic curriculum, OU launched the interdisciplinary Latinx Studies major and minor program, which integrates courses in Latino literature, politics, culture, history and society. It is the first academic program of its kind in Oklahoma.
The university also offers a wide array of cultural and outreach initiatives that include the annual Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Street Festival, which draws more than 12,000 community members to campus, as well as Hispanic Heritage Month, Latino Flavor and Eve of Nations.
“The University of Oklahoma is a passionate advocate for inclusiveness and diversity,” said Tony Tyler, vice president of Oklahoma City-based Tyler Media Group, which owns Spanish-language television and radio stations in Oklahoma and partners with OU on such Latino outreach initiatives as Dia de los Muertos, Cinco de Mayo, Dia del Niño and an annual back-to-school event for Latino school children.