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DoD, Hispanic Education Organization Sign Partnership Agreement

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

ANAHEIM, Calif., Oct. 19, 2003 – After the signing a new partnership agreement with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities on Oct. 17, Charles Abell vowed that the Defense Department will not allow the new document to lapse, as did a similar agreement signed seven years ago.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Antonio Flores, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities president and chief executive officer, left, and Charles Abell, principal undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, signed a new Partnership Agreement between DoD and the HACU on Oct. 17. Members of the DoD/HACU Task Force stood behind the two men as they signed the partnership during a two-day joint DoD and HACU Hispanic American Heritage Month observance at the Hyatt Regency Orange County Hotel in Anaheim, Calif. From left to right, Felton Page, director of equal opportunity and civil rights of the National Guard Bureau; Patricia Adams, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for civilian human resources; Donald Averill, chancellor, San Bernardino (Calif.) Community College; Frank G. Reyes, San Bernardino Community College assistant to the chancellor for government affairs; Luther Santiful, director of the Army's Office of Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights; Jose Mendez, president, Ana G. M
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image)

"I want to assure you that we have every intention of following through on this with action and meeting on a regular basis," said Abell, principal undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. "As HACU comes to Washington in the spring for your annual (Capitol) Hill visits, we hope to hook up with you and make sure we're still moving forward and we're on parallel agendas."

Abell then asked his signing partner, Antonio Flores, HACU's president and chief executive officer, for his thoughts on the agreement. "We're signing this agreement exactly seven years to the month from the signing of the previous one," Flores noted. "I hope that this time it will be even more impacting."

Flores said he's pleased about the opportunities to increase and enhance the capacity to provide programs and services that are geared to DoD's mission. "The document also provided for opportunity directly available to students and graduates as interns or as prospective employees," he noted. "They also include opportunities for research, procurement of federal equipment and a number of other important things that are critical to the enhancement of our institutions.

"We've signed a number of memorandums of understanding," Flores continued, "and as our guest speaker compelled us to do over lunch, we intend to make sure it doesn't become an 'IOU,' and that it will really be something that works well for our community and for DoD."

Flores was referring to remarks by Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, who was the keynote speaker at DoD's National Hispanic American Heritage Month observance luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Orange County Hotel.

In her closing remarks, Kickbusch said, "Don't just make it another piece of paper so you can show somebody you've done something great. Go beyond the paper and put down the objectives and have follow-up meetings. Hold somebody accountable when they don't do what they say they're going to do on paper."

The purpose of the agreement is to provide the cooperative framework to develop and establish the DoD/HACU "Collaborative Partnership Agreement." Through the collaborative agreement, officials of both organizations said they hope to expand and strengthen the role of Hispanic-Serving Institutions, or HSIs, in support of DoD's mission and increase employment opportunities in DoD for students and faculty members.

The CPA also will be directed toward increasing educational and research opportunities offered by DoD for students and faculty of HACU member institutions.

The objectives of the program are to:

-- Develop programs and coordinate activities to enhance the capacity of HACU to support DoD objectives and initiatives;

-- Increase HIS responses to and participation in DoD awards and grant opportunities in research, development and technical assistance; and

-- Increase employment opportunities within DoD for students, faculty and graduates of HACU member institutions.

DoD officials said the partnership is intended to encourage students from HSIs to pursue and successfully compete for careers in mathematics, science, administration, business and national security with the department and the general workforce.

A partnership task force of senior DoD officials and HSI presidents was formed to oversee and implement the provisions of the agreement. The group is tasked with identifying student and faculty employment opportunities with DoD and defense mission-related training and development initiatives.

The master of ceremonies, John Molino, asked the DoD/HACU task force members attending the ceremony to stand with Abell and Flores during the signing. They were Luther Santiful, director of the Army's Office of Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights; Patricia Adams, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for civilian human resources; Shirley Martinez, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for equal opportunity; and Felton Page, director of equal opportunity and civil rights for the National Guard Bureau.

"Other DoD task force members are from the DoD personnel and business communities, but they couldn't attend today," said Molino, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for equal opportunity.

The HACU representatives appointed by Antonio Flores, HACU's president and chief executive officer, are Donald Averill, chancellor, San Bernardino (Calif.) Community College; Delores Fernandez, president, Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College, City University of New York; Richardo Romo, president, University of Texas, San Antonio; Christine Johnson, president, Denver Community College; Jose Mendez, president, Ana G. Mendez University, Puerto Rico.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAfter signing a new Partnership Agreement with the Defense Department, Antonio Flores, president and chief executive officer of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, said he'd ensure that the agreement doesn't become an "IOU." Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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