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UTRGV’s Mora receives NSF grant to increase number of minorities in economics

Dr. Marie Mora, UTRGV associate vice provost for Faculty Diversity and professor of Economics at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, has been awarded a grant for $499,352 by the National Science Foundation to help fund the American Economic Association mentoring program. Mora, who has served as director of the program since 2013, said its goal is to help augment the number of minorities completing doctoral degrees in economics. (UTRGV photo by Paul Chouy)

Dr. Marie Mora, UTRGV associate vice provost for Faculty Diversity and professor of Economics at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, has been awarded a grant for $499,352 by the National Science Foundation to help fund the American Economic Association mentoring program. Mora, who has served as director of the program since 2013, said its goal is to help augment the number of minorities completing doctoral degrees in economics. (UTRGV photo by Paul Chouy)

By J. Edward Moreno

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – OCT. 12, 2017 – The National Science Foundation has awarded a three-year NSF grant for $499,352 to Dr. Marie Mora, associate vice provost for Faculty Diversity and professor of Economics at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley,

Mora said the grant, which commenced Sept. 15, will provide funding for the American Economic Association’s mentoring program. Since 2013, Mora has served as director of the program, which began in the late 1990s and seeks to increase the number of minorities completing doctoral degrees in economics.

In 2015, Hispanics represented 17.6 percent of the total U.S. population, blacks accounted for 13.9 percent, and American Indians and Alaska Natives, 1.7 percent. However, among economics faculty members who were U.S. citizens or permanent residents employed full-time at U.S. institutions, only 3.9 percent were Hispanic and 1.7 percent were black in 2014-15 (with the percentage of Native Americans too small to be publicly reported).

Many suspect the reason for such disparity is a lack of support students may feel while completing their studies, Mora said.

“Often, a student will be the only minority in his or her program, which can make them feel isolated and, in turn, makes it more likely for them to not complete their degree,” she said. “Many of these students are first-generation college students as well.”

She believes having more minority representation in the field of economics could lead to more inclusive ideas when it comes to policy decisions and the information that is available to policymakers.

“One of the reasons we are concerned is because many policy decisions are made that affect minority populations, yet there are not many minority perspectives in the field,” Mora said.

The mentoring program connects minority students seeking a Ph.D. in economics with university faculty members or other professional economists who serve as a vital resource to promote their academic success.

The NSF grant also will provide funding for travel and collaborative research at the Summer Mentoring Pipeline Conference, where the mentors and mentees meet to network and share research.

Having the program housed at UTRGV brings new opportunities to students wishing to pursue a career in economics, as well as the community as a whole.

“Having the AEA Mentoring Program housed at UTRGV has provided undergraduate students at that institution with new information about the importance of studying economics as well as the opportunities (e.g., various Ph.D. programs) that exist across the nation,” Mora wrote in her proposal. “In addition, an economically literate population in south Texas is particularly important for the future direction of the state and nation, given the area’s relatively high poverty rates and low median family income.”

ABOUT UTRGV


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.

READ MORE ABOUT MORA

Hispanic Heritage Month: Economist Marie Mora Shares Perspective on Mentoring:
http://nationalsciencefoundation.tumblr.com/post/166251885193/hispanic-heritage-month-economist-marie-mora

Mora receives national award for efforts on diversity, higher education:
http://www.utrgv.edu/en-us/about-utrgv/news/press-releases/2016/march-08-utrgvs-mora-receives-national-award-for-efforts-on-diversity-higher-education/index.htm

Mora receive Leaders in STEM Award:
http://www.utrgv.edu/en-us/about-utrgv/news/press-releases/2017/july-17-utrgv-rodriguez-lozano-and-mora-receive-leaders-in-stem-award/index.htm

National policymakers in D.C. continue to rely on UTRGV professor’s expertise:
http://www.utrgv.edu/en-us/about-utrgv/news/press-releases/2016/november-03-national-policymakers-in-d-c-continue-to-rely-on-utrgv-professor-s-expertise/index.htm

Mora shares expertise with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen:
http://www.utrgv.edu/en-us/about-utrgv/news/press-releases/2016/june-21-utrgvs-dr-marie-mora-shares-expertise-with-federal-reserve-chair-janet-yellen/index.htm

MEDIA CONTACTS
J. Edward Moreno
UTRGV Staff Writer / 956-665-3639

Marci Caltabiano-Ponce
UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications / 956-665-2742