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Scholars give talks on importance of Hispanic Serving Institutions

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week, the first installment of the President’s Lecture Series was dedicated to discussing HSIs’ past, present, and future.    

From fall 2015 to fall 2019, UHD had an upward trend in Hispanic undergraduate student enrollment. HSI’s are universities that are “not-for-profit institutions of higher learning with a full-time equivalent undergraduate student enrollment that is at least 25% Hispanic at the end of the award year preceding the date of application,” according to the Department of Education.    

“It is one thing to be a Hispanic-enrolling institution and a Hispanic-Serving Institution,” UHD President Loren Blanchard stated. “I am thrilled that our guests will be able to help us understand our responsibility of our work and our success centering around all our students.”    

Patrick Valdez, board chair of the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education, and Anne-Marie Nuñez, executive director of Diana Natalicio Institute for Hispanic Student Success University of Texas at El Paso, spoke about the importance of HSIs.    

Valdez gave the history of HSIs to show where the roots of HSIs came from. He went on to show that these Hispanic/Latino-led groups were individually testifying in front of Congress. These groups formed a coalition to help testify for funding from Title III.    

With two decades of research on HSIs, Nunez has addressed equity in science and has collaborated on several National Science Foundation grants to build inclusive environments in geosciences and computer science disciplines in HSIs. She wrote the “Hispanic-Serving Institutions: Advancing Research and Transformative Practice,” which is the first book to ever focus on HSIs as organizations.    

“It is important to realize the potential of HSIs,” Nuñez stated. “The emerging research on HSIs clarifies and refines practice, policy, and understanding on how to provide equity in educational attainment.”   

According to the speakers, building inclusive cultures in these higher education institutions is essential. These institutions should not reach for the minimum enrollment just to be classified as an HSI because the continuous use of the same strategies will not work to keep these students on their campus.