Established in 1993 – with Lehman College as a founding member – Hispanic Educational Technology Services (HETS) is celebrating 20 years of existence. HETS is the first bilingual consortium constituted by more than 40 higher education institutions in Puerto Rico, Latin America, and the United Sates. HETS’ mission is to expand the educational opportunities and the access to the post-secondary education to the Hispanic community to support the capacities of its member institutions.
“Over these 20 years, HETS has affected more than 10,000 participants, local and international, during their training and educational events, its academic fairs and through the access to its services and tools through the Internet” said the HETS Executive Director, Yubelkys Montalvo. Among the main projects that HETS has developed over these two decades are the creation of the website, the Virtual Plaza, and the search of funding opportunities for its member institutions to create courses and online collaborative programs.
Lehman College President Ricardo R. Fernández is a past President of the HETS Board of Directors, presiding from 2001 to 2003. Lehman’s facilities for video conferencing and distance learning through HETS reside in the Academic IT Center in Carman Hall.
Services offered by HETS include training and educational events in Puerto Rico, Latin America, and the U.S. to support the integration of new technologies in higher education, the creation of the HETS Online Journal, a journal that is peer-reviewed by experts, and a variety of online resources and tools for students, faculty, administrators and public in general from its website. The Executive Director said that “if we add the number of students enrolled in HETS member institutions, we have more than half a million students; and of those, more than 65 percent are Hispanic. In addition, there are more than 24,000 full-time faculty members, so we continue creating new services and promoting existing ones in order to support this enormous academic community.”
In the year 1993, HETS was created by seven institutions, including Lehman College, lead by Dr. José F. Méndez from Ana G. Méndez University System (AGMUS) and the University of Puerto Rico, together with institutions in New York, Texas, and New Mexico. These institutions joined together to request funds to the Federal Department of Commerce in order to acquire satellite equipment that would allow exchange of distance learning courses, through video-conferencing. In the year 2000, the 15 institutions that formed HETS, came together to request and share funds of a proposal by the Department of Education to create support services for Hispanic students, as well as the creation of courses and online collaborative programs. Currently, the Organization has offices in the AGMUS building and receives support from this host institution. Its budget is supported by membership dues, corporate sponsorships and revenues that are generated from the training and educational events.