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College of Liberal Arts professor selected for prestigious Hispanic fellowship program

Maria Escobar-Lemmon from the College of Liberal Arts was selected by The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities as fellows for the second cohort of its Leadership Academy/La Academia de Liderazgo.

Profile photo of Maria Escobar-LemmonBy Lesley Henton, Texas A&M University Division of Marketing & Communications

Texas A&M University Professors Maria Escobar-Lemmon and Mario Torres have been selected by The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities as fellows for the second cohort of its Leadership Academy/La Academia de Liderazgo.

The program is designed to increase diverse representation in executive and senior-level positions in higher education. La Academia seeks to increase the number of talented individuals who aspire to leadership positions of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and Emerging HSIs. Fellows selected for the program participate in an array of leadership development activities that will not only prepare them for leadership roles in the full spectrum of institutions of higher learning but also within HSIs and Emerging HSIs.

“I am extremely honored to have been selected,” said Escobar-Lemmon, a professor of political science in the College of Liberal Arts. “The individuals included in the first cohort have done some incredible things and I’m humbled to be counted in this company. HACU has an impressive leadership team and I am excited to learn from those who are able and willing to share knowledge and experience.”

Escobar-Lemmon studies political institutions with a regional focus on Latin America, with emphasis on the representation of women. She is an active member of the department’s Program in the Cross-National Study of Politics and the Project for Equity, Representation, and Governance. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics and Political Research Quarterly, among others. She has done field research in Colombia, Costa Rica and Venezuela, gathering data and conducting interviews to better understand the workings of governments in the region.

She said she’s excited to join the HACU program because it offers mentorship from people with whom she would never otherwise come into contact. “The impressive faculty they have assembled (more than a dozen nationally recognized current and emeriti presidents and senior-level administrators with 100 plus years of combined experience) is an unprecedented opportunity,” she said, adding that as Texas A&M moves toward becoming an HSI, it is important for the university to have leadership teams that reflect the student population.

“I hope to bring back ideas and insights that will enable Texas A&M to continue to fulfill its land-, sea- and space grant mission to truly serve all the people of Texas,” she said. “I hope that the project I work on during the course of La Academia will help to further a climate of inclusive excellence.”

Torres, a professor and department head of Educational Administration & Human Resource Development in the College of Education and Human Development, said there is a notable absence of Latinx representation in the highest levels of university administration across the country.

“Programs like HACU’s are vital to stemming the underrepresentation problem and promoting a more inclusive academy,” he said.

Torres’ research focuses on students’ rights, the ethics of education reform and discipline policy, and organizational inclusion. He recently received a grant from the Kellogg Foundation for more than $286,000 to study organizational justice and demographic inclusion in south Texas urban school districts and serves a co-principal investigator of a $2.5 million federal grant to examine leadership preparation for linguistically diverse school settings. Torres has served as an associate editor for the top field journal. He has written a book and published nearly 30 peer-reviewed articles in the field’s premier journals including the Educational Administration Quarterly, Journal of Educational Administration, and the Peabody Journal of Education. Within his department, he led the effort to create the current fully online master’s program for school principal preparation.

Torres said his and Escobar-Lemmon’s selections as HACU fellows is a testament to the support they’ve received from their respective colleges and the university as a whole.

“I think our selection signifies an important moment for Texas A&M University as it strives to become a more culturally and demographically responsive institution,” he said. “Having two fellows from Texas A&M in the same class I believe speaks volumes to that commitment.”

According to the HACU, the one-year fellowship program includes three seminars, with the first taking place in October 2020, in conjunction with HACU’s 34th Annual Conference, “Fostering Excellence and Social Justice.” The second seminar will lead into HACU’s 26th Annual Capitol Forum on Hispanic Higher Education in April 2021. The third seminar will be held in late spring or early summer of 2021, with a focus on international collaborations.

More information about the HACU Leadership Academy/La Academia de Liderazgo is available on the HACU website.

About HACU

HACU, founded in 1986, represents more than 500 colleges and universities in the United States, Latin America, Spain and school districts throughout the U.S. The mission of HACU is to Champion Hispanic Success in Higher Education. HACU is the only national association representing existing and emerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). The Association’s headquarters are located in San Antonio, Texas, with regional offices in Sacramento, California and Washington, D.C. Information is available at