Criswell College President Barry Creamer participated in an institutional vision panel at the National Hispanic Education Summit on the campus of Dallas Baptist University in late October 2019.
During the panel discussions, Creamer shared his thoughts on the opportunities and challenges faced by Criswell and other institutions of higher education.
“The reality is that our history over the last 50 years is very significantly in the white community. We have diversity among our students. Fourteen percent of our student population is Hispanic,” Creamer said. “It’s not as high as we would like for it to be, and being in Old East Dallas we would love for it to be a lot higher than that.”
Creamer also added that 40 percent of the student population at Criswell is comprised of minorities, along with a growing diversity among adjunct faculty.
“I think the challenge for us is learning that having diverse representation in a school that’s still culturally white isn’t enough. We’re working really hard to grasp and listen and learn from people in every venue where we have the opportunity to do so,” said Creamer said.
The Hispanic Education Summit is one of many initiatives affiliated with the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. This year’s theme was “Commitment from the Boardroom to the Classroom: Advancing University and Faith Community Practices for Hispanic College Completion.”
Faith and Education Coalition Executive Director Girien Salazar said that the two-day summit was about engaging in conversation and the search for solutions on bridging the gap between admissions and graduation among Hispanic students.
“Every year we put on the National Hispanic Education Summit, which is geared toward speaking to the faith community and university committee and talking about Hispanic student achievement on the college campus,” Salazar said, adding that there is a need for college campuses to work toward seeing more Hispanic students graduate.
“We’re happy to see enrollment numbers go up, but statistics to graduate is not rising comparatively. So, we ask how do we as a university community understand the dynamics that Hispanic students bring on campus and how can we adjust programs, policies, to help ensure we’re removing barriers from Hispanic student graduation. And also, bringing in the faith community and talking to pastors, asking how can your church come alongside their students . . . how can you come alongside as a pastor and church community to make sure they are supported all the way through, not just financially but emotionally and spiritually, making sure they are growing academically,” said Salazar. “I think there is unfamiliarity from Hispanic families oftentimes with the application and scholarship process and understanding cultural dynamics a student might bring into the classroom.”