Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, vol. 24, issue 18 (Oct 2007), pp. 32-35.
This article describes how Texas' Closing the Gaps initiative pays close attention to the demographics of its growing minority communities. West Texas A&M administrators created the University Success Academy (USA) in 2004, which was largely funded through the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's First Generation College Student (FGCS) program. It is aimed at students who are among the first in their immediate families to attend college. Each participating student receives free tuition, room and board, books and supplies for two summer classes. One course is a mandatory interdisciplinary class, while the other is a core requirement chosen by the student. This past summer, West Texas A&M administrators took the step of funding the USA solely through university resources. Taking full responsibility for the academy reflects the interest of campus officials to institutionalize and offer it as an annual program. Since 2002, numerous programs targeting students in pre-college and college years have sprung up in Texas colleges and K-12 school districts. Although state-administered federal funding has dried up over the past year for outreach programs, Texas officials nevertheless consider the FGCS campaign a critical component of the state's ambitious "Closing the Gaps" initiative. Adopted in 2000 by Texas officials, Closing the Gaps established the goal of adding 630,000 students by 2015 to reach a total enrollment of 1.6 million students at 143 Texas public and independent higher education institutions. The target enrollment for 2010 is 1.4 million students.