Villanova Hosts National Hispanic Institute “Northeast Great Debate”

Since 2004, Villanova University and the National Hispanic Institute (NHI) have partnered to prepare high-ability Hispanic/Latino youth for higher education and future community leadership roles.  The culminating event each year is the Great Debate, which attracts more than 150 high-achieving Hispanic/Latino ninth-grade high school students from over five different countries to Villanova’s campus in July to deliberate on topics concerning the Hispanic/Latino community. 

The 2011 Great Debate will take place July 26-31 on the campus of Villanova University. This six-day event represents the first NHI program in the Northeast U.S., specifically designed to support the northeastern U.S. Hispanic/Latino communities.  

The Villanova-NHI Partnership began with the establishment of the Great Debate program.  Realizing that the effort to effectively cultivate a Hispanic/Latino youth leadership community in the northeastern U.S. would take an effort beyond just one program, however, Villanova and NHI partnered to establish the Leadership Service Center (LSC) on the campus of Villanova University in October 2004.

The LSC provides Villanova with the opportunity to become intimately involved in the future of Hispanic/Latino communities and engage high-ability students through leadership and academic experiences that inspire community engagement and leadership, as well as the pursuit of higher education. Villanova does so by immersing staff, students and alumni into these communities to establish an infrastructure and organize partnerships with community members, organizations, schools and businesses, to begin to identify future community conscious leaders as early as 14 years of age.

Villanova and NHI have also established an active international presence to engage key sections of the Hispanic/Latino communities in five countries, including the U.S., Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

"In NHI’s 31-year history of work in the U.S. and abroad, no institution has committed the resources, support, and consistency of effort as Villanova University,” said Ernesto Nieto, President of the National Hispanic Institute. “No other college or university to date has developed an initiative similar to the endeavors undertaken at Villanova University via the Villanova NHI Leadership Service Center and its work beyond its gates to develop driven community conscious leaders.”

The Leadership Service Center also adds invaluable experiences such as leadership programming, work study, and volunteer and fellowship opportunities. The Center has developed a presence at Villanova that allows it to build a college student volunteer base, as well as hands-on leadership service and work-study programs.

In 2010, Villanova was recognized by the National Hispanic Institute (NHI) as the organization’s 2010 “University of the Year.” The University was honored for its “unparalleled commitment to developing driven, community-conscious leaders.”

Over the course of NHI’s 31-year history, it has had over 85,000 alumni, of which 98 percent have completed their four-year undergraduate careers in four to five years. In addition, 66 percent of those students have chosen to pursue graduate degrees. Villanova currently has several NHI alums enrolled as undergraduate or graduate students at the University. Click here for more information on NHI.