The University of Colorado-Boulder served Joseph Garcia well.
“I got out of CU and did what I always planned to do and became a truck driver,” quipped Garcia, the 13th president of CSU-Pueblo.
But there was more to Garcia’s visit than taking jabs at easy targets.
The former garbage man was in the Lory Student Center on Wednesday afternoon, where he spoke about CSU’s sister university and diversity in higher education administration.
CSU-Pueblo has an enrollment of 4,000 and four-year graduation rate of around 18 percent, Garcia said.
“I’m proud to be here at the flagship institution here in Fort Collins,” said Garcia. “But we are the lifeboat for students in Southern Colorado.”
There is one thing that sets him apart from most university presidents.
“I’m not a 60-year-old Anglo male,” he said.
He is however, a member of the largest minority group in the United States.
“I grew up in a military family in Northern New Mexico,” he said. “My Hispanic ancestors did not cross the border. The border crossed them several generations ago.”
Garcia spoke as part of the “Latina/o History of Empowerment: Past, Present and Future” series sponsored by El Centro Student Services about the expectations placed on Latinos in positions of power at universities and colleges around the country and the need to stress the importance of higher education to the Hispanic community.
Garcia said that the facts are more Latinos are being hired, but not in proportion with other groups and that racism is still prevalent in today’s society, saying that minorities are often placed in the position of disproving certain presumptions.
“If you are an Anglo male and you are picked for a job the presumption is that you were the best candidate,” said Garcia. “For minorities, including women, the presumptions is that you got the job for some other reason than that you were the best-qualified. So you start out in a very different place.”
The National Center for Education Statistics reported in 2003 that Latinos represent only 3 percent of full-time instructors and only 17 percent only those instructors are tenured or tenured tracked.
Prior to Garcia speech, it was announced that Mary Ontiveros has attained the position of associate vice president for enrollment and access.
“We need to do more than to just encourage students to go to college,” she said. “We need to talk to their parents about access and why an education is necessary for their children.”