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September 12, 2013

Host: José Cárdenas

Higher Education

  |   Video
  • Arizona State University hosted a town hall focused on higher education, specifically on the White House Hispanic Initiative and college affordability. The event featured U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, ASU President Michael Crow, and University of Maryland, Baltimore County President Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski III. Dr. Hrabowski talks about the town hall and the importance of math and science today.
  • Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski - President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Category: Education   |   Keywords: ASU, education, Hispanic, initiative,

View Transcript
José Cárdenas: Thank you for joining us. This week, ASU hosted a town hall focused on higher education, specifically on the White House's Hispanic initiative and college affordability. The event featured the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. In addition to Duncan, there were two other panelists, ASU President Michael Crow and joining me tonight is the University of Maryland Baltimore County President Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski III who was also on this panel. Dr. Hrabowski, it's an honor to have you on our show tonight. I do want to talk about what was discussed at the town hall but before that, just last week, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's “I Have a Dream” speech. In many ways, your life story embodies that dream. You were actually an eye witness to history, and let's talk about that first.

Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski: I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and at age 12, heard Dr. King suggest that if children could participate in a march for better schools, that all of America would appreciate the need to educate children and to see that even children could see the difference between right and wrong. I said I've got to participate. I did.

José Cárdenas: You did over your parents' objections?

Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski: My parents did not want me to go. They had insisted that I go to church, middle of the week and hear this man talk. I didn't want to go. I sat in the back of the room eating M ‘n’ M’s and doing my math until he said that. And I thought, wow, is it possible we might be able to go to better schools? Is it possible I would no longer have to have books that were given to us after the white kids had finished with them? And so I wanted to go and my parents said absolutely not because they were worried and yet within a day, that next morning, they said I could. I did go, I did participate, the dogs, the fire hoses, it was awful. Most importantly, I spent five days in jail.

José Cárdenas: And this followed a personal encounter with --

Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski: With the police commissioner, who was not happy we were doing this and he threw me into the police wagon, he actually sat on me, it was awful. He was so disgusted with the fact that this was happening in his town. So it was quite an experience and what it taught me and what it taught the children was that even kids can make a difference in their own lives, can feel empowered to take ownership of their education, and as a result of that experience and what America saw, we saw changes over a period of time in the Civil Rights Act and the Voter's Rights Act and I think it was a turning point in the history of our country.

José Cárdenas: How did it impact your life in terms of education?

Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski: Sure, well I always loved math. I am a mathematician and I always wanted to be the best. What it did was to say that if I worked to be the best, all kinds of opportunities would be there and it also taught me the importance of leadership, being willing to stand up for what you believe in and to believe in my country so much that I would say when something is wrong, I need to talk about it. It taught me about civic engagement, and it helped me to believe that quite frankly, the sky was the limit, that all things were possible with hard work.

José Cárdenas: And speaking of leadership, since 1992, I believe, you've been the president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County and in a role that has put you at the forefront of educational innovation.

Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski: I’ve been very fortunate. My campus is an interesting model of inclusive excellence. It's very similar in many ways to ASU. The difference is we are smaller. We are about 14,000 students. We have students from 150 countries, and if someone had told me as a kid growing up in black Birmingham, never even being around students from other cultures or races, that one day I would be president of a university with students from all over the world, with research and with biotech companies on campus and I.T. companies, I would not have believed it. It's given me a chance to focus on some of the issues we face in our country, one of which involves the underrepresentation of certain groups in science and engineering. Another involves the underrepresentation of certain groups in colleges in general. Whether we're talking about the Hispanic population or the black population, while both have made progress in the numbers who are graduating, we are still below the national average and we need many more people with two and four-year degrees. If you just listen to how our country competes against other countries.

José Cárdenas: That was one of the subjects of discussion at the town hall. Fill us in a little bit about that.

Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski: Sure. The secretary, Secretary Duncan, was willing to talk about all kind of things but he really wanted to listen to families and teachers and students, high school and college, talk about the issue of how we get more Hispanic students in particular, students from first generation college families, students of color, but particularly given ASU’s strength with Hispanic students, what can we do to increase those numbers and what are the concerns people have? And Secretary Duncan was echoing what the president has said. We must find ways to help more families of all types to have what they need in order to send their kids to college and to see more students of all backgrounds completing college, and we talked about those issues and we listened to the questions of different people.

José Cárdenas: Cost seems to be on everybody's mind these days with some people questioning the value of a college education. What do you say to those people?

Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski: The first thing I say is where would anyone be without an education? If you see anyone in our society who is making money and living legally, quite frankly, you're talking about more and more education. When you think about the challenge in certain parts of the country where people are selling drugs and you ask why are they selling drugs? Well, they don't have any other skills that can be used to get a job. We need ways of educating all of our children and all of our children so they can have the skills they need to get a job that would be considered a law-abiding citizen. I mean, the challenges of kidss getting into trouble, of kids finding themselves in jail, often would be a direct correlation with how much education they've gotten. So when we look at the global economy, what we see is that other countries are moving ahead of us in the percent of students going on to get those college degrees. I don't think there's anything more important to the country's future and to the future of every family than to help students to receive more education, either two-year degrees or four-year degrees or even beyond that amount.

José Cárdenas: The underrepresentation that you've talked about is particularly a problem with respect to the STEM areas.

Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski: That's exactly right. We're looking at Ph.D.s in STEM areas, perhaps three percent of Hispanics, perhaps two percent of blacks have degrees in STEM. To give you one example, to give people at why STEM is so important, when we talk about STEM, we need to also say the arts and humanities are critical, too. We need students in all these disciplines but the issue with STEM is that when you think about healthcare, and health disparities, if you look at the probability of a Hispanic woman or a black woman having diabetes at age 55, that probability is much higher than it is for the white population and many of these health problems are particularly severe for people of color and yet when you look at the Ph.D.s working on solutions at NIH, which really works on the hardest problems, the national institutes of health in my area, you're talking about perhaps between two and three percent of the scientists who are Hispanic, all types of Hispanic and under one percent black. In other words, very few scientists in our country come from populations where we see serious issues in healthcare and the other areas, whether we're talking about intelligence, defense, or the environment, we need people from all these backgrounds who bring their sociocultural perspectives to understand the issues and right now, the percentages are very small. So ASU and UMBC are producing more students than others but we can do much better.

José Cárdenas: What do we need to do to improve those numbers?

Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski: I am convinced by start in k-12 and we start with families and we help families understand why we want their kids to be doctors or scientists or engineers and, believe it or not, as a math teacher, I'm asked often what can I do to make sure my child becomes a scientist or physician or an engineer and I surprise people. I say it starts with strong reading skills because when we look at problems in engineering or problems in medicine, we don't express those problems in numbers. We express those problems in words and the problem that so many people have, the challenge many people have, with standardized tests, when you're talking about getting into med school is that people don't read well enough to be able to go from the words to symbols to equations. If you give me a child who can read well, I can teach her to solve word problems. So it's important at the early ages to focus on reading and language skills and word problems with cooking, for example, and LEGOs and puzzles. Whether one is going into some of the creative areas in the arts or the sciences, those same skills are important.

José Cárdenas: Now, what about the roles of the universities? I saw your TED talk where you talked about even those kids who have a great interest in science change their minds after their first year.

Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski: You've done your homework, I'm impressed.

José Cárdenas: And you pointed out part of the problem is the way we're teaching these kids.

Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski: I say we need to change the culture of teaching and learning in science and engineering in our colleges and universities. Even students who are highly prepared, well prepared, sometimes, we have A.P. credits and high test scores, even many of those students will leave science and engineering within the first year or two and when you ask them why, rarely will they want to say they didn't do well academically because it's not a part of the culture in America for students to say I didn't do well in the class, they just get discouraged and leave. I think some of the work you're doing here at Arizona State University, work we're doing at UMBC, we are focusing more and more on rethinking the approach. We have something called course redesign. We've redesigned chemistry. We've gotten away from the lecture approach. People get bored listening to a lecture for an hour. You can't concentrate for an hour. I don't care what age you are. You really can’t. You start thinking about other things. But if you design the course in such a way that students take ownership of the education and you give them problems and they have to discover the theories and they have to struggle with it themselves, then in working in groups, in using the technology in using the hands-on experiences, they begin to take ownership of the actual concepts. And we found amazingly that many more students are staying in science and engineering on our campus and learning a lot about how the science can connect to the real world. Very important.

José Cárdenas: Well, thank you so much Dr. Hrabowski for talking to us about those important things and hope to have you back on the show next time you're in Arizona.

Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski: Delighted to be here, thank you.

Hispanic Heritage Month

  • In Sounds of Cultura: SOC National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15th to October 15th in the United States, when people recognize the contributions of Latino Americans to the United States and celebrate the group's heritage and culture. Phoenix Art Museum Director Jim Ballinger and Phoenix College Professor Dr. Trino Sandova talk about the third annual Cine Latino Film Festival and other events going on at the Phoenix Art Museum to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month.
  • Jim Ballinger - Director, Phoenix Art Museum
  • Dr. Trino Sandova - Professor, Phoenix College
Category: Community   |   Keywords: Latino Americans, culture, heritage,

View Transcript
José Cárdenas: In Sounds of Cultula, SOC, National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15th to October 15th in the United States, when people recognize the contributions of Latino-Americans to the United States and celebrate the group's heritage and culture. The Phoenix Art Museum is celebrating Hispanic heritage with festivities, which include the Cine Latino film festival. We'll talk more about what is happening at the museum in a moment but first, here's one of the films being shown at the Cine Latino film festival called Hecho en Mexico.

English Subtitles for Spanish Film Clip: We are the authors of our own movie. I think now we are ready to finally recognize the cultural diversity of our country. Spirituality is beyond religion. Religion has divided us. Spirituality bonds us. What has to shine are the different Mexicans, the Mexicans who find their own way to assume their origins, their sense of identity. This thing that we can’t satisfy, I think is the engine of life. It’s like the horizon… when you move forward, the horizon moves away. But you’ve advanced. All of us have heart, soul, life, dreams, feelings, hopes.

José Cárdenas: Here now with me to talk about Hispanic Heritage Month is Jim Ballinger, Director for the Phoenix Art Museum. Also here is Dr. Trino Sandoval with Phoenix College. Dr. Sandoval is also the founder of the Phoenix College Latino Film Festival. Welcome to both of you. You've been on the show before, we've talked about a number of issues. Trino, you're the founder of the Phoenix College film festival, Latino film festival, but you're involved with this particular project with selections of the films.

Dr. Trino Sandova: Yes. I'm also part of the Latin-American arts alliance, which is an association of the Phoenix Art Museum and through that, I was able to work with the museum staff to select the films for this series.

José Cárdenas: As I understand, we're talking about six films.

Dr. Trino Sandova: There are six films left in the series. They are films from Latin America, they're all feature films, documentary films or short films.

José Cárdenas: Now, the clip we saw, the trailer, Hecho en Mexico, Made in Mexico, in some ways it looks like it's a promotional marketing thing but as I understand it was intended to show the diversity of the Mexican culture.

Dr. Trino Sandova: Yes, the documentary is by a director from England, his name is Duncan Bridgeman. He spent a year in Mexico, traveling throughout the country, interviewing musicians, interviewing poets, interviewing film directors, so that he can --

José Cárdenas: I saw Diego Luna I think in that trailer.

Dr. Trino Sandova: Yes, Diego Luna was in the clip and also Diego Luna has a short film as part of the series that we are going to showcase in the next few days, but the actual documentary Hecho en Mexico showcases different genres of Mexican music from ranchera music, norteno music, rap Mexican music --
José Cárdenas: Symphonic music.

Dr. Trino Sandova: That's right, and also danzon music from Bela Cruz as well and there are some great interviews with great artists such as the Chavela Vargas who passed away recently and she’s an icon of Mexican music, of ranchera music.

José Cárdenas: So Jim, and Trino, I’ll come back to you because I want to talk about some of the other movies but the movies are just one part of what the Phoenix Art Museum is doing in September and October.

Jim Ballinger: Right, José, we've been for many years been very involved with Hispanic Heritage Month and this year we have an additional film. Trino was just terrific in helping us out. We're helping FOMA, Friends of Mexican Art, which is an organization in town, celebrate 50 years of activity with an exhibition. And Rufino Tamayo’s prints, Tamayo’s a major Mexican artist in the 20th century in the museum, and other lenders locally, including the university, us, and private collectors came together for the show. We're also doing an exhibition that opens October 2nd of Xul Solar and Jorge Luis Borges

José Cárdenas: The famous artists.

Jim Ballinger: And they had a great friendship. This was an exhibition created by the Solar museum in Argentina in conjunction with the Americas Society of New York City. [ Overlapping Speakers ]

José Cárdenas: We've got images we want to show of some of this work that's quite interesting.

Jim Ballinger: Yeah, and it’s kind of 1940’s, 50's. Paul Klee liked people --

José Cárdenas: One of the images on the screen right now.

Jim Ballinger: They're very, very festive and these two giants in their own area were very good friends and so the show was put together by the Americas Society in New York and they’re coming here with The Holly Foundation helped. It demonstrates this incredible fascination with each other and how literature informs art and how art informs literature, which we don’t get a look at a lot. Included in this exhibition is not only the wonderful paintings but correspondents and memorabilia between these two artistic giants from Argentina.

José Cárdenas: The first exhibition, Tamayo, runs from when to when?

Jim Ballinger: It opens on September 21st to January 12th. And FOMA is also doing a project with the airport, the airport gallery, looking at Mexican art collected from around the valley so if anybody's flying through Sky Harbor, they should see that as well.

José Cárdenas: And the Xul Solar and Borges?

Jim Ballinger: It opens on October 2nd through the end of the year, December 31st.

José Cárdenas: Trino, we mentioned that there's six films left in the series. Let's talk about a few of the other ones. Which one do you think is most impactful?

Dr. Trino Sandova: There's a film from Argentina being screened on September 15th, it's a Sunday at one p.m. called Clandestine Childhood. It takes place in Argentina in the 1980’s during the Dirty War. It's about a family who was exiled to Cuba and they decided to come back to Argentina with false identities to continue the fight against the military junta. What makes it more impactful is we get to see the atrocities, the horrors of the military junta from the perspective of a 12-year-old boy. It's a very impactful film. Another important aspect about the festival is that we have film scholars that present the films and they engage the audience in the film discussion after each showing.

José Cárdenas: Why do you think it's important to do this? In what way does this really amplify the reach of the Hispanic culture? Because I would take -- I would assume many of the people you're reaching are the choir, you’re preaching to the choir, these are the people who appreciate the Hispanic culture, anyway.

Dr. Trino Sandova: For example, this particular film from Argentina is important because the military junta came to power by overthrowing a democratically elected president. And we were hoping that there wouldn’t be cases like that anymore but just recently in Honduras, a democratically elected president was overthrown and a military took over the government. So we're trying to showcase the history that repeats itself. That’s not something that only impacts Latinos. It impacts everybody. It's important for us to be informed.

José Cárdenas: Let's talk about the other films.

Dr. Trino Sandova: The other film that we’re going to show is called Tanta Agua. It’s about family relationships. It's a story about coming of age of a young girl.

José Cárdenas: Tanta Agua, meaning so much water.

Dr. Trino Sandova: That's right, and it’s significant because the story line is about a divorced father who picks up his young son and teenage daughter to spend a week in Uruguay, but as the title of the film suggests, so much water, they are rained in so they are forced to spend the whole week in a hotel room in the premise of the hotel without Internet, without cell phones and without television. They have to really bond together and rekindle the love that they had before the divorce. So there’s different themes and different genres for every different film.

José Cárdenas: Jim, what is the museum doing to promote the efforts in the various shows that you've got going?

Jim Ballinger: Well, we're advertising, we've got all kinds of social media out there. We also have -- I think the long-standing of a lot of the programs, we've built quite an audience base over the years, and I think to what Trino was saying, the art museum can be a place where the community comes together to discuss and understand complex, tough issues and we're happy to serve that role. So that's another reason for the selection of these kinds of films and to look at exhibitions like Solar and Borges. Both tough customers as far as artists being very critical of what went on and if you look at the development of this community and certainly with the future of our community as a melting pot of more and more not just Mexico but Latin America, I think we have a very important role and we collaborate a lot with the university and with Phoenix College and others to be a place where people can feel comfortable coming together to look at some things they might not normally look at. I think that's our real mission here.

José Cárdenas: I know because we've had you on this show many times and not just in September and October that the Phoenix art museum has had a long-standing commitment to Hispanic culture. Expand on that a little bit.

Jim Ballinger: One of the very first shows we did, we opened in 1959, was a Mexican exhibition, one of the first objects to come into our collection was Mexican art. We've done a lot with Mexico over the year with FOMA. In recent years, we have a curator for Latin-American art, we have a Latin-American art alliance, Mexican art is not part of the museum but we partner a lot. So, you know, we saw that as very important. Earlier this year, we did Order and Chaos.

José Cárdenas: We had you on the show to talk about that.

Jim Ballinger: Which is one of the great private collections of Latin-American contemporary art, it's one of the most important in the world. And to have that based here and be able to use that is spectacular. We've partnered with CALA, we've partnered with other stations in town as well to reach out and the other thing we're very proud of is that the museum has a real role to be accessible to as many as possible. The museum remains open on Wednesday evenings for free and our board struggles with that a little bit with revenue but they also realize we're here for everyone and to get people in the door with experimental programs, broadening out to deal with literature, film, in addition to the visual arts, which is our traditional base.

José Cárdenas: Trino, we're almost out of time but I do want to talk about the fact that the films that were selected are recent award-winning films.

Dr. Trino Sandova: Yes. The selection of films, we wanted to select films from recent years so all of them are from 2012, 2013 and 2011. And we wanted to select films that have already been selected in other film festivals,that have won awards. One of the films that we're screening is by Carlos Reygadas who won the coveted best director prize of the last year's Cannes Film Festival in France, That film is called Post Tenebras Lux, which is Latin for light after darkness, which is a very experimental art film that creates a lot of great discussion with the audience.

José Cárdenas: Sounds like one of many to see and thank you both for joining us here on "Horizonte" to talk about this. That's our show for tonight, from all of us here at "Horizonte," I'm José Cárdenas, have a good evening.