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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Toro joins diverse panel for immigration reform discussion

Dr. Zulma Toro, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at UALR, joins a diverse panel discussing immigration reform in Arkansas, Wednesday, Aug. 28.

Dr. Zulma Toro-RamosToro and three other panelists will speak at a luncheon at the Clinton School of Public Service.

Other panelists include Jeffery Hall, associate director of national affairs for the Arkansas Farm Bureau; Dr. Sherece West-Scantlebury, president and CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation; and Randy Zook, president and CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas.

New polling data shows Americans’ significant support for immigration reform. In mid-June, Dr. Toro joined the Little Rock mayor to urge passage of a U.S. Senate immigration reform bill, which did pass later that same month. Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are in August recess and have not yet voted on the matter.

Toro believes passage of immigration reform measures makes economic sense and aligns with the goals of the president and Arkansas Governor Beebe to increase the proportion of Hispanics and Latinos with high-quality degrees and credentials by 2025.

Toro, whose background is in engineering, has noted that the U.S. is falling behind in the number of engineering degrees being granted compared to other countries such as China and India.

Toro came to the U.S. from Puerto Rico after earning a bachelor’s degree. Before coming to UALR, she was dean of the College of Engineering at Wichita State University and became the first woman and first Hispanic administrator to head the college. She earned a master’s degree from the University of Michigan and a doctorate from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The Arkansas immigrant population is the fourth fastest growing nationally, with a net economic impact of more than $3 billion in 2010, according to a study by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.