Background/Service Area: Dewey University is a private, nonprofit, Hispanic-Serving Institution located in Puerto Rico. The Carolina campus of Dewey University (DU-Carolina or DU-C) provides educational opportunities for students in the northeast region of Puerto Rico, primarily economically disadvantaged students. DU-Carolina’s student population is 100% Hispanic, the average age of 25, 88% work, and 83% have an income below $20,000. About 72% of DU-C students are enrolled in some evening and/or weekend courses, which reflects our high proportion of working adults, many of whom are blue-collar workers. The six municipalities surrounding our campus, which make up our service area, are economically distressed; the percentage of individuals living in poverty ranges from 29.8% to 46.3%. The median household income for residents in those cities ranges from $18,497 to $31,261 and the unemployment rate is nearly 10%, indicators of the economic hardships experienced by those residents.
Institutional Gaps/Weaknesses/Opportunities: DU-Carolina has been serving the higher education needs of Hispanics in northeast PR since 1996 and continues to grow as an undergraduate institution. We seek to expand access to new areas with strong potential for growth (e.g., health and business fields) to broaden and maximize opportunities for our students. We also strive to capitalize on labor market opportunities, such as the current and increasing demand for nurses, particularly professionals with bilingual (English/Spanish) skills. However, DU-C must overcome significant institutional challenges before it can provide more Hispanic students increased access to employment opportunities in high-demand professions. Our problems and weaknesses revolve around the following issues: significant gaps in academic programming, inadequate instructional facilities, and the absence of a systemized academic support structure.