Some ERIs are in a unique position to provide access and opportunity to underserved populations, including minorities and the economically disadvantaged. For example, Benjamin Flores described the University of Texas at El Paso’s mandate to serve the region: to provide the resources and the education necessary for the region to thrive economically. He reiterated the importance of research in stating that it enables the institution to create, interpret, validate, and apply disseminated knowledge. He added, “But we also want to attract and retain a diverse and innovative faculty that will be dedicated to both teaching and research.” This is a compelling statement about the impact of ERIs in producing the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) knowledge workers.
Workshop participants attested to their research capabilities that are largely untapped and provided testimonials about their graduates who have proven to be highly competitive for graduate school and the job market. In addition, they stressed the fact that, when given the opportunity to compete individually for research funding or to collaborate with other institutions, ERI faculty researchers have proven their strength and capability as high-performing scholars.