September 28, 2011
Texas Tech University (TTU) in partnership with El Paso Community College (EPCC) will receive a Department of Education $5.9 million cooperative Hispanic-Serving Institutions – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (HSI-STEM) grant over a five year period to expand its innovative 2+2 architectural program targeting Hispanic students in the El Paso region.
The program has the potential to serve as a national model for increasing Hispanic student educational access and facilitating student transition from community college to university in the STEM field of Architecture.
“Less than two percent of the nation’s architects are Hispanic. Given the large Hispanic population in the El Paso region, we knew that El Paso would serve as a great incubator for this innovative 2+2 architecture program,” said Valerie Paton, co-principal investigator who also serves as the vice provost for Planning and Assessment and interim dean of University College at Texas Tech.
In 2007, Texas Tech and El Paso Community College launched a pilot 2+2 joint architecture program in El Paso. The intent was to draw students from the region through El Paso Community College or other regional community colleges and then later to Texas Tech.
Upon completion of an associate’s degree, students then transfer to complete a Bachelor of Science in Architecture through TTU College of Architecture - El Paso, Texas Tech’s regional site located on the EPCC campus.
The program coordinators and advisors work closely with students in the program to ensure a seamless transfer. This enables students from El Paso to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from Texas Tech without ever having to leave El Paso.
The initial results have been impressive and the program has already graduated more than 30 students with the majority of those students being Hispanic. The grant funds will provide funding to expand advising for architecture students, tutoring and peer mentoring, faculty development, and construction of a joint-use facility.
“This award includes more than $1 million in operating funds over five years for Texas Tech, and more than $4 million for a joint architecture facility for EPCC and TTU,” said Andrew Vernooy, dean of Texas Tech’s College of Architecture and co-principal investigator. “By expanding this model program, we hope to continue increasing the number of Hispanic and other under-served populations of students attaining degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.”
In addition to receiving the grant, the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) is observing this program, among others, and is also conducting additional study of the role of community colleges in NAAB-accredited programs to determine whether such relationships should be addressed in the next edition of The NAAB Conditions for Accreditation.
“Not only will this program impact the number of graduates and certified professional architects in the U.S., but it also has the potential to serve as a replicable national model for Hispanic student access from community college to university in the STEM field of Architecture. It may alter the profile of professional education in architecture across the state of Texas and the nation,” said Paton.
In 2008, Texas Tech was awarded a similar grant for $5 million over a three year period, in partnership with El Centro College, Texas Tech Biology, and the Trinity River Audubon Society. Paton said that the collaboration with community colleges on these grants has expanded access for under-represented students to begin work at the regional community college and complete their undergraduate degree at Texas Tech.
About the Joint Program
In 2007, El Paso Community College and Texas Tech University jointly implemented a 2+2 architectural program that is unique in the nation for its model communication practices and emphasis on program development based on local community and student needs. This joint partnership includes a unique architecture degree pathway beginning in a community college and continuing to a university, supported by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). For more information, visit www.elpaso.ttu.edu.
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