WASHINGTON, D.C. - A new report released examines how a growing number of U.S. colleges and universities are adapting their educational practices and policies to better serve the needs of Latino students.
"Emerging HSIs: Serving Latino Students" authored by Excelencia in Education with support from the TG Public Benefits Program, reveals thatemerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) - institutions that enroll 15-24 percent or more undergraduate full-time equivalent Hispanic students- are not waiting for official HSI status to enact policies to better serve Latino students.
"We can learn from these emerging colleges that are producing successful results," said Deborah Santiago, report author and Vice President for Policy and Research at Excelencia in Education. "As the number of college-going Hispanics and HSIs continues to grow, it's important to understand what it means to serve Latino students well, and we can look to these colleges as models."
In a briefing by Deborah Santiago and the following panel at the Cannon House Office Building last week, speakers discussed the report findings, and specifically how they relate to President Obama's national college completion goals for the next decade. Speakers included Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO); Sue McMillin, President and CEO for TG; Juan Sepulveda, Director of the White House Initiative on Excellence for Hispanic Education; Margarita Benitez, Director of Higher Education for The Education Trust; Luis Torres, Deputy Provost for Academic Affairs at Metropolitan State College of Denver (an institution featured in the report); and Sarita Brown, President of Excelencia in Education.
"We completely agree with Excelencia that it's not about the definition, but about the mindset," said Juan Sepulveda, Director of the White House Initiative. "President Obama, Secretary Duncan, and Undersecretary Martha Kanter know very well that it's impossible to achieve the administration's ambitious goals for college completion without bumping up the retention and graduation rates of the Hispanic community."
The report offered several examples of how these emerging colleges and universities are showing a commitment to their Latino student population. Of the 176 schools surveyed, 55 percent reported that their institution had specific practices related to the recruitment of Latino students; almost 38 percent stated their institution had academic programs or services specifically focused on Latino students; and more than 35 percent responded that their school had specific student support services that targeted Latinos.
The designation of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) in the 1980s presumed institutions with a "critical mass" of students had adapted to serve Latino students better and would thus improve college success among Latino students. Critical mass was defined as 25 percent or more undergraduate full-time equivalent enrollment. In 2008, HSIs accounted for over half of all enrolled Latino undergraduates in the United States. These institutions represented just 8 percent of all colleges and universities. Because of the limited number of HSIs and their concentrated enrollments of Latinos, it was also presumed that investing in the quality and capacity of HSIs with targeted federal funds would further improve Latino student success.
Effective practices involve not only enrolling Latino students, but also implementing support services to ensure their successful completion. At the four emerging HSIs examined in the Excelencia report, serving students included effective outreach, admission and academic and students services that facilitated Latino students, and all students' persistence and completion.
"We applaud Excelencia for their valuable work and relentless efforts in determining how to better serve the growing Hispanic, college-going population," said Sue McMillin, President and CEO of TG. "TG's support for Emerging HSIs: Serving Latino Students demonstrates our belief that this insightful research helps the higher education community understand and help meet the challenges of gaining access to and succeeding in college, particularly for low-income and underrepresented students."
The full report, which uses data from an online survey and case studies, is available at: http://www.edexcelencia.org/research/emerging-hispanic-serving-institutions-hsis-serving-latino-students
Excelencia in Education is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization whose mission is to accelerate Latino student success in higher education.