WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of the Interior and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) renewed and strengthened their partnership with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that will expand efforts to promote educational and career opportunities for Hispanic students.
Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, HACU Vice President John Moder, and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Robert Johnson delivered remarks at the signing ceremony held today at the Department of the Interior.
“Improving educational opportunities for Hispanics and all Americans has been a priority for President Bush and his Administration,” Kempthorne told the members of the HACU delegation. “When I became Secretary, I was surprised by the under-representation of Hispanics in the Interior workforce. I am hopeful that through this Memorandum of Understanding and with your help more Hispanics will look to the Department of the Interior as an employer of choice.”
“The purpose of the MOU is to provide a cooperative framework for the parties to develop and establish a program that will empower the Hispanic community through Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) to attain educational excellence while contributing positively to the DOI and HACU missions,” said Sharon Eller, Director of Interior’s Office of Civil Rights that worked with HACU to formulate the MOU.
The DOI-HACU partnership program will be directed toward promoting career opportunities, professional development, research and other opportunities for students, faculty and staff at Hispanic Serving Institutions, as well as programs, contracting and other opportunities to help build the capacity of HACU member institutions.
HACU’s Vice President Moder said, “Our Hispanic-Serving Institutions and the students that attend these institutions want very much to be a part of the important endeavor of serving as stewards of the land to protect it for future generations. This is why we take this MOU signing so seriously, because we believe that our colleges and our people want the opportunity to be custodians and guardians of the land and we want our colleges and universities to advance the mission of the Department of the Interior.”
Secretary Kempthorne commended Commissioner Johnson and Bureau of Reclamation employees for heading the HACU partnership renewal effort and encouraged all Interior bureaus and offices to follow their lead.
*HSIs are accredited and degree-granting institutions of higher education with a full-time Hispanic student enrollment of 25 percent or more.