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La Liga de Las Americas

David García of Ohio University: Could a college presidency be in his future?


By Alan Abrams

La Prensa Senior Correspondent


Athens: When it comes to key administrative positions, Latinos are virtually invisible in the rarified towers of Ivy League colleges and universities.


The prestigious Rutgers University in New Jersey is as good an example as any. In 2003, Latino advocates at the school were forced to admit they “cannot provide statistics pertaining to Hispanic/Latino representation in the University’s higher administration because, as outrageous as it may sound, there is not a single Latino/Hispanic in such positions.  There has never been! 


“We do not have a single Hispanic/Latino as college dean, faculty dean, area dean, and much less serving as vice-president or provost or associate provost. Needless to say, we have never had a Hispanic/Latino president.  Hispanics/Latinos have been systematically excluded from such policy-making positions as those in power have failed to mentor and help advance Hispanics/Latinos to such positions.”


But a Bowling Green native may be part of the generation that changes the status quo. David García, currently Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Ohio University in Athens, could be on a fast track to the office of a university president. The Bowling Green State University graduate might one day even become a successor to Dr. Sidney Ribeau at his alma mater, opening the door for even more Latinos.


There are a handful of Latinos who are college presidents, but they are greatly underrepresented. Most people would be hard pressed to name even one or two or their affiliation.


Now García, who has opened the academic doors to numerous Latinos over the last 15 years, may finally be ready to take the big step for himself.  Consider this exchange during a recent interview:


García: “One of my goals is to pursue my Ph. D., which I will be doing starting this fall. I would like to be able to work in higher administration, possibly even on a vice president level.”


La Prensa: “Why would you stop at vice president? Have you considered becoming a university president, maybe even of BGSU?”


García: “That’s possible. It would be nice, wouldn’t it?”


Were I a betting man, I’d lay you odds that García could do it.  Certainly throughout his entire career he has shown great concern for students and education.  He set out to help BGSU make a change 15 years ago and he has found success wherever he has gone.

García works on the main campus of Ohio University where he oversees a staff of 27. His responsibilities include the incoming freshman class, transfers and the international undergraduate class.


Right now, he’s busy bringing in a new class to start Sept. 4, 2007, the day after Labor Day.  (Ohio University operates on Semesters.)


During the two years García has been at Ohio University, he has seen an increase in the school’s multicultural class.


“In 2005 we had a 59 percent increase in African-American students and a 25 percent increase in our Hispanic/Latino students. That was the largest (multicultural) class in the school’s history.


“But trying to keep those numbers high is hard to do.  There usually isn’t enough of a yearly dramatic increase to carry forward. Yet we’ve been able to maintain those numbers for the last two years,” says García.


There are no figures available for the incoming 2007-2008 class.


“We define diversity not only as Hispanic/Latino and African-American, but as including

Asian, American Indians, and international students,” adds García.


The stats in the school’s detailed profile offer confirmation. For 2006, out of a total student body of 20,146 – there were 810 African-American students, representing four percent of the total enrollment.


There also were 322 Latino students, comprising 1.6 percent of the population.


García acknowledges that “indirectly, the recruitment process is the reason for the higher rates.” But he admits there is still a lot to be done in terms of recruitment, especially for Latino students.


García joined Ohio University exactly two years ago in Aug. 2005.  He was previously the Director of Admissions at Western Illinois University in Macomb/Moline, Illinois for two years.  Prior to that, he worked in the office of undergraduate admissions at BGSU for 11 years, where he was active in increasing Latino recruitment.


 “I was born and raised in BG.  My parents were migrant workers, and as soon as they could afford it, they moved out of the fields. My mother was Elvira González, and she raised eight children. I was raised to be proud of my heritage, whether I called it Mexican-American or Chicano.


“I was the first of my family to go to college, and I waited one year after graduating from high school to attend college. During that time I worked at Whirlpool,” recalls García.


He earned .his B.A. from the University of Findlay and his M.A. at BGSU.


“My first teaching job out of college was at Rogers High School in Toledo from 1991-92. I left in 1992 to take the job of helping recruit more Hispanics at BGSU. That was both my passion and my desire.


“My mom always taught me to give back to others what you have. She taught me the value of working hard, and that education is the key for being successful in life,” says García.


He and his wife Yolanda are the parents of two sons, Javier, 8, and Elian, 4.





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