The National Hispanic University (NHU) has provided students with access to higher education in a unique learning environment for more than 30 years. Based in San José, the university is now poised to become a national model for learning. Jorge Escobar is at the forefront of this challenge, serving as Vice President of Campus Operations.
“The opportunity came about to join NHU, and I thought it was a big opportunity for me to execute on its mission. The opportunity provided me with a higher purpose to give back through social entrepreneurship and social change,” Escobar said. “I thought NHU was the perfect place to do all of these things.”
Escobar is now building community relations in Silicon Valley, overseeing day-to-day operations, and supporting the President.. He moved to San Jose in January 2012 after spending eighteen years in New Jersey, working for multinational financial services company Merrill Lynch as Vice President as well as the Senior Associate Director of Finance, Planning and Operations for the Office of Development at Princeton University.
“There is so much to do. I’m using all my strengths and the experiences I have developed over the past 20 years,” Escobar said. “At NHU, we’re looking at the big picture and the opportunities for Latinos in higher education. I’m also educating myself on the issues and opportunities related to preK-12 education, the challenges in public school districts and politics in California.”
A native of Quito, Ecuador, Escobar is prepared to meet these challenges with over two decades of experience in operations and technology at large institutions all over the world. Considered an advocate for diversity, Escobar led the National Hispanic Employee Network at Merrill Lynch and the Latino Princetonians during his tenure at Princeton. He also maintains strong relationships in Latin America as a consultant for different governments.
“NHU is now positioning itself to lead the way and meet the needs of Latino students nationwide in order to develop the workforce of the future,” he said. “We are not only educating Latino students but also those who work, teach and support diverse communities. At NHU, we can be nimble. We start early by creating a pipeline to higher education by working with local middle schools and high schools.”
Escobar points to NHU’s very successful Early University Program (EUP) at the Latino College Prep Academy. NHU has a partnership with the high school that allows students to take college-level courses at the university. This combined with services provided by a federally funded Upward Bound grant, provides high school students with a unique opportunity to enhance their academic performance, increase their GPA, and gain the credentials for students to successfully be admitted at top universities.
Escobar says they are trying out different methods to be creative, bold, and innovative, including launching entirely online programs to expand higher education access to Latinos and others who serve multicultural communities. They are also investing in the talent that will complement all aspects of the University, from the academic side to the business side. The stakes have never been higher with an even larger number of Latinos making up the student population across the U.S. According to a recent Pew Research study, Latinos now outnumber whites enrolling in higher education.
“That responsibility of educating Latinos will allow the creation of these leaders that we expect to come back and start serving the Latino population down the road. We want to be ready for when we become the majority. We have to be a part of the solution,” Escobar concluded.