WMU News

Meeting set to explore forming Latino employees group

Sept. 13, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Latino and Hispanic faculty and staff members who are interested in forming a Latino employees organization at Western Michigan University are invited to attend an informational meeting from 11:15 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Sept. 17, in the Faculty Dining Room, located inside of the Bernhard Center Cafeteria.

"According to the latest trends, it is expected that in the next few years the Latino/Hispanic community will become the largest minority group in the United States," says Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering and one of the meeting organizers.

"At the same time ..., the number of Latinos going to college or participating in the economic development of this country is disproportionately low, even when compared to other minority groups."

Rodriguez notes that a small group at WMU has been discussing such data and examining ways of improving the outlook for University employees. As an initial step, he says group members are looking into forming an employees organization tentatively called the Latino Employees Association.

The proposed organization would involve more people in the improvement process, which Rodriguez says will increase the likelihood that positive change will occur.

To date, organizers of the upcoming informational meeting are suggesting that the LEA play an important role in recruiting and retaining students as well as faculty and staff. They also are viewing the organization as a way of supporting and promoting the educational and professional advancement of Latinos through networking, communication and research for the greater good of the University and local community.

Immediately following the informational meeting, Zapopan, a mariachi band from Detroit, will be performing on the Bronco Mall Center Stage along with Liza Poveda, a singer from Vicksburg. The program, which is being sponsored by the Student Entertainment Team and Division of Multicultural Affairs, will mark the beginning of WMU's celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. A national observance, the month runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 14 and recognizes Hispanic culture and contributions to American society.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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