Texas Southern University (TSU) and Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) announced TSU as a university partner – and the first Historically Black College and University (HBCU) – in the airline’s First Officer recruitment program: Destination 225°. On a compass, 225° is the southwest directional heading, and the carrier developed Destination 225° to lead aspiring pilots to Southwest Airlines.

Dr. Lesia L. Crumpton-Young, TSU President, and Lee Kinnebrew, Southwest’s Vice President of Flight Operations, signed an agreement and exchanged symbolic gifts to publicly announce the partnership.

Texas Southern University, with its groundbreaking Aviation Science & Technology program, is the only school in Texas that offers a combined Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Science Management and, beginning just six years ago, a Bachelor of Science degree as a Professional Pilot.

“Working with Southwest Airlines and Destination 225° aligns with Texas Southern University’s mission of transformation – not only for our students, but for STEM-related industries such as aviation. This is great news for TSU Director of Aviation Dr. Terence Fontaine, the Aviation Science program and our students.” said Dr. Crumpton-Young. “African American, Hispanic and Asian American pilots are significantly underrepresented in the U.S. This makes our degree program and our new partnership with Southwest a critical pathway for the next generation of minority pilots and aviation professionals.”

“We’re honored to welcome Texas Southern University as the newest academic partner in our Destination 225° program as we focus on hiring, training and developing the next generation of world-class, professional aviators.,” said Southwest’s Kinnebrew. “We recognize the importance of embracing diversity, equity and inclusion in all that we do, and we are confident this partnership and defined career pathway supports underrepresented and minority aspiring pilots in their efforts to join the Southwest family.”

As part of the Destination 225° University Pathway Program, Southwest joins well-known educational and industry partners to train and reinforce “The Southwest Way” of flying. After being accepted into the program and completing their university degree, candidates build post-graduate flight instructing time within their college’s flight program, with the goal of becoming competitively qualified to interview for a First Officer role at one of the program’s partner carriers. After building their flying experience at a partner carrier, candidates will be considered for a First Officer position at Southwest Airlines. Candidates also receive ongoing career mentorship from a Southwest pilot during their university studies and early flying career.

“Our job as educators is not complete until our students are either employed or seeking further education,” added Dr. Fontaine. “Today, our partners at Southwest Airlines delivered news that our students have a new place to land, literally. Being the first HBCU that Southwest Airlines is partnering with shows the depth of talent we have in our Professional Pilot students. I want to thank our university leadership for allowing our Aviation Program to grow to unforeseen heights. The best is still yet to come from Texas Southern University Aviation.”

More details about Destination 225° and the program’s training and flying partners are available at careers.southwestair.com/D225. For more information about TSU’s Aviation program, visit transportation.tsu.edu.