A coalition of Black and Hispanic higher education professionals in Illinois will host three conferences between April 19 and April 24 at the University of Illinois-Chicago campus to develop leadership skills among Black and Hispanic students, to facilitate professional development for Black and Hispanic higher education professionals, and to enable Black and Hispanic students to present academic research.
The conferences, convened by the Illinois African American and Latino Higher Education Alliance (IALHEA), represent the culmination of years of informal collaboration among Black and Hispanic higher education groups in Illinois, according to organizers.
“We’re building upon a relationship that Blacks and Latinos have had in Illinois higher education,” says Dr. Michael Toney, the acting executive director of the Urban Health Program at the University of Illinois-Chicago and an alliance leader.
Last year, two key groups, the Illinois Committee on Black Concerns in Higher Education (ICBCHE) and the Illinois Latino Council on Higher Education (ILACHE), formed IALHEA and secured $185,000 in competitive grant funding from the Illinois Board of Higher Education. In addition to underwriting the conferences, the grant is supporting the production of a documentary on the history of African-Americans and Hispanics in Illinois higher education as well as the development of networking resources for Black and Hispanic higher education professionals, such as newsletters and Web sites.
For at least a decade, Black and Hispanic scholars and academic administrators in Illinois have informally collaborated on projects, recognizing that an established working relationship among their respective professional groups could stave off the potential of them being pitted against one another over access to resources. The groups could work together on common goals and aspirations for Blacks and Latinos in Illinois higher education, organizers say.
“About 10 years ago, we started working together and came out with a document called the ‘New Majority Coalition.’ These educators, a few years later, put together the African-American and Latino Dialogue and Research Forum. It was a way for us to work together to talk through issues of importance and to reintroduce ‘The New Majority Coalition’ document,” says Dr. Jose Perales, assistant dean of the University of Illinois-Chicago Graduate College and vice president of ILACHE.
“What the grant has allowed us to do is to bring to life some of the plans that were started many years ago,” Perales adds.
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