Hurd Works to Expand Access to STEM Grants for Texas Colleges and Universities

May 20, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation yesterday which reauthorizes civilian research programs at the National Science Foundation, the National Institute for Standards and Technology and other civilian science agencies. These agencies offer grants to universities across the nation that serve to kickstart the basic research that drives innovation in our economy. Included in the legislation was an amendment supported by Representative Will Hurd (R-TX) which will give universities and colleges designated as Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) greater access to STEM grants. 

“If America is going to have a healthy economy that continues to be the strongest in the world, we have to have a 21st Century workforce that is able to compete in a global market,” said Hurd who represents several universities which are designated as HSI. “The institutions of higher learning in my district are committed to encouraging more Hispanic students to pursue STEM degrees, because they know that this benefits the students, the communities and our economy. STEM education and research is critical to our national security from an economic and defense perspective. We must leverage new technologies if we hope to remain a leader on the global stage.  I’m proud to support an amendment that finally gives them equal access to these important grants."

There are 47 institutions in Texas which are designated as HSI and more than a dozen of them serve students in the 23rd Congressional District of Texas.

Dr. Ricardo Romo, President of the University of Texas at San Antonio, added, “This amendment would provide vital support for institutions like the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) that are dedicated to serving the nation’s growing Hispanic population and conducting world class research.  It would allow UTSA to further provide a positive impact for our country and expand opportunities for Hispanics. We are proud of the fact that currently UTSA ranks #7 in the nation in bachelor’s degrees awarded to Hispanics.”

John Sharp, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, said, “We applaud this amendment, which would help stimulate additional vital research opportunities. The Texas A&M University System has more than 30 percent Hispanic student enrollment across our 11 universities, and four of them, including Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Texas A&M International, Texas A&M Kingsville, and Texas A&M San Antonio, would be immediately eligible for the programs this amendment would authorize. We are increasing our commitment to enroll Hispanic students across the state, particularly in STEM-related fields, and this amendment would help our four HSIs develop the research infrastructure to help these students be successful in the classroom and in the workforce.”

As a Hispanic Serving Institution that is working to serve the higher education needs of the vast expanse of the middle and west Rio Grande valley areas, Sul Ross State University enthusiastically supports this amendment. Dedicated funding for HSIs will open new and very important opportunities for Hispanic students in Texas and throughout the country. We all know the statistics in terms of the growth and importance of the Hispanic population in our country. Sul Ross State University proudly serves a university population of over 60% Hispanics. It is our obligation to assure that the quality of life enhancements that higher education uniquely brings to our citizens be made available to all Hispanic students," stated Dr. Bill Kibler, President of Sul Ross University in Alpine, Texas.