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April 21, 2005

Austin Peay University recognizes changing time

Clarksville’s Austin Peay University became the first institute of higher education in Tennessee to recognize the change and growth in it’s Hispanic student enrollment with it’s dedication of a Cultural Arts Center for Latino heritage.

Many city leaders including Clarksville Mayor, Don Trotter were present on April 13th as Austin Peay University President , Dr. Sherry Hoppe addressed the audience of approximately 300 who had come to take part in the dedication and celebration of the Latino Cultural Arts Center located on the first floor of the Morgan University Building. Dr. Sherry Hoppe emphasized that it was time for the university to make the necessary adjustments to meet it’s growing diversity on the campus.

Themed “ La Celebracion de Nuestra Cultura” which translates to the celebration of our culture, the attendees enjoyed a Mexican buffet and were entertained by a local youth group directed by Juanita Jones who performed dances native to Mexico and to Latin Caribbean countries.

APSU student Doraida de Leon-Chamorro shared her experiences as a Hispanic student at schools that had no diversity in it’s programs or student body. Also in attendance were Roberto Chavez of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Ed Rufo of the Clarksville Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

The invited guest speaker for the dedication ,Greg Rodriguez , president of the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce touched on several current issues that impact the Hispanic community and the overall general population of Tennessee. The need for access to education, immigration reform and acceptance of diverse cultures, rich in heritage as being crucial for the country to maintain its position as a world leader were among points made by Rodriguez. “Hispanics are now the largest minority in the nation and will soon be the largest minority in the deep south. Its time that the Hispanic community be treated as stakeholders and not as aliens to this land. In three years our buying power will reach one trillion dollars which is a clear example of our impact on the national economy. There is no need to import or buy knowledge from overseas. There is a drastic need to develop this untapped resource.” said Rodriguez

The center was a culmination of the efforts of Dr. Ramon Magrans who was instrumental in founding the university’s Spanish Honor Society and has encouraged many of the Austin Peay State University Hispanic students to be involved in campus activities including the Cultural Arts Center. Dr. Magrans has been at Austin Peay University for 22 years as a professor of Language and Literature. Tina Tarpy, student president of the Pi Nu Spanish Honor Society at the school said that the center will help to educate others on the Hispanic culture and promote diversity on the campus. The center will also serve as a welcome center for new Hispanic students. A place that these students can feel a part of the university.

.Austin Peay University now boasts the largest Hispanic student enrollment in Tennessee at 438 and Clarksville has over 12000 Hispanic residents. By all accounts these figures should grow exponentially in the near future.

Posted by VisaLawyer at April 21, 2005 06:40 AM

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