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Hispanic-Serving Institutions: Advancing Research and Transformative Practices

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Abstract

Despite the increasing numbers of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and their importance in serving students who have historically been underserved in higher education, limited research has addressed the meaning of the growth of these institutions and its implications for higher education. Hispanic-Serving Institutions fills a critical gap in understanding the organizational behavior of institutions that serve large numbers of low-income, first-generation, and Latina/o students. Leading scholars on HSIs contribute chapters to this volume, exploring a wide array of topics, data sources, conceptual frameworks, and methodologies to examine HSIs’ institutional environments and organizational behavior. This cutting-edge volume explores how institutions can better serve their students and illustrates HSIs’ changing organizational dynamics, potentials, and contributions to American higher education.
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... The 1992 amendment to the Higher Education Act (HEA) conferred the title of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) to those "accredited, degree-granting, public or private, non-profit colleges and universities with 25% or more total undergraduate full-time equivalent Hispanic student enrollment" [4]. Beyond the 25% enrollment requirement, however, there are no clear indicators of what a federally designated HSI is, what it should do, or how it ought to "serve" Latinx students, bringing to the forefront the most pervasive argument amongst HSI scholars: that these institutions are merely "Hispanic-enrolling" as opposed to "Hispanic-serving" [5]. As such, scholars claim that HSIs are not serving Latinxs any better than non-HSIs since, prior to their HSI designation, these institutions were initially conceived of as majority-serving institutions that evolved to enroll Latinx students due to changing demographics. ...
... This context is distinctly different than other minority-serving institutions, such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), who share institutional commitments to address black and African-American students' needs from inception. In contrast, HSIs do not necessarily share in this implementation of culturally-relevant and responsive practices for Latinx students [5]. ...
... Such a significant increase can be attributed to the rapid demographic growth of the Latinx population in the US combined with the fact that HSIs are enrollment-defined [7]. Within the broader landscape of Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), HSIs are the largest group, accounting for more than half of all other MSIs combined [5]. ...
... In their extensive examination of HSIs, Nunez et al. (2015) found these institutions more likely to have supportive campus climates with fewer inci dents of racial and ethnic discrimination reported. Specifically, the greater visibility and representation of Latinx students, faculty, and administration at HSIs foster the possibility for creating supportive campus climates and in creasing academic self-concept for Latinxs (Nunez et al., 2015). ...
... In their extensive examination of HSIs, Nunez et al. (2015) found these institutions more likely to have supportive campus climates with fewer inci dents of racial and ethnic discrimination reported. Specifically, the greater visibility and representation of Latinx students, faculty, and administration at HSIs foster the possibility for creating supportive campus climates and in creasing academic self-concept for Latinxs (Nunez et al., 2015). ...
... Based on the literature on higher education organizational change in undergraduate STEM reform efforts, we focused our analysis on understanding four mechanisms that influence equitable outcomes-a) allocating financial priorities toward equity, b) setting inclusive incentive and reward structures, c) implementing equity-oriented policies and programs, and d) supporting diverse human resources Allocating financial priorities toward equity. MSIs in general and HSIs in particular operate on less funding, on average, than other higher education institutions (NASEM, 2019;Núñez et al., 2015). In a department context, funding priorities can be a mechanism for promoting equitable student outcomes. ...
... An institution's mission and the extent to which it focuses on research or teaching can also shape incentive and reward structures, and in turn influence departmental mechanisms for promoting equitable student outcomes. One critique of HSIs is that although the term implies that these institutions "serve" Hispanic students, they are not held accountable in their incentive and reward structures to do so, because HSIs are based on enrollment and not mission definition (NASEM, 2019;Núñez et at., 2015). Decisionmakers should consider the alignment between faculty and staff role expectations and the additional workload that develops with a strong student support infrastructure (Argryis & Schon, 1978;Kezar 2008;O'Day, 2002) and can maximize the likelihood of organizational improvement by emphasizing multiple types of rewards, e.g., monetary, emotional/ psychological, and recognition-oriented (Doten-Snitker et al 2020). ...
... It is also worth highlighting that HSIs tend to enroll a large number of first generation and historically underrepresented students, which research has determined are populations that can be the most expensive to serve (Nuñez & Elizondo, 2012;Nuñez et al., 2011). These and other long-standing challenges for HSIs raise pressing questions about how the financial context of these institutions affects the degree attainment rates and experiences of Latino students (Nuñez, Hurtado, & Galdeano, 2015;Titus, 2006a;Titus 2006b;Garcia, Nuñez, & Sansone, 2019). ...
Thesis
Postsecondary attainment rates for Latinos in the United States have improved steadily over time, however Latinos continue to have disproportionately reduced opportunities in obtaining baccalaureate degrees in comparison to their White peers. These disparities are found at all levels of education and are particularly evident among graduates of various Latino backgrounds. Of particular relevance to this study is the premise that the majority of Latinos who enroll in a college or university in the United States do so at a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI). The more than 500 HSIs in this country represent 17 percent of all postsecondary institutions and educate nearly 70 percent of all Latinos. Yet, the relatively brief history of HSIs is one of institutions that receive less funding per pupil, spend less money on academic and support services, and continue to rely on public support for more than 60 percent of their revenue. Hence, making HSIs more dependent on state support in comparison to their non-HSI counterparts. This level of dependency on public support by HSIs also threatens their financial resiliency when this resource is reduced. The U.S. Congress established the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institution (Title V) program in 1998 to provide HSIs with additional financial support and ultimately improve postsecondary success for Latino students. Presently, we are more than two decades removed from when HSIs were first recognized and the Title V program was launched, and no single evaluation has examined whether Title V is meeting its stated goals. This study represents a first-ever rigorous assessment of the Title V program’s effectiveness in one of its most frequently cited aims, improving six-year completion rates for Latinos pursuing a baccalaureate degree in the United States. The results from this analysis suggest that Title V awards have no statistically significant relationship on six-year completion rates for Latino students at public four-year HSIs during the period observed (1997-2012). At first glance these results may bring into question the efficacy of the Title V program in meeting its stated goal of improving completion rates for Latino students; however, this study offers an explanation to help make sense of these results. Anchored in the theoretical perspectives applied in this study and the empirical trends observed in the review of the literature, the findings from this assessment suggest that variations in the financial contexts of public HSIs shape organizational behavior and drive performance outcomes at these institutions (i.e., completion rates). This study emerges during a moment in the history of American higher education in which hard decisions about the investment of limited resources are becoming increasingly difficult and publicly challenging. The recent pandemic has placed yet another unexpected strain on public resources. If advocates for HSIs and the Title V program expect to secure continued investments and potentially expand the base of support, then researchers and policymakers alike must work to identify ways to demonstrate the efficacy of programs such as this one and further ensure that these programs effectively improve postsecondary success for Latino students. Moreover, given the growing representation of Latino undergraduates in the American system of higher education and the gaps that persist in completion rates between Latinos and their White peers, it is of utmost importance that researchers continue to rigorously assess and evaluate programs that effectively seek to improve baccalaureate completion rates for Latino students.
... HSIs-where Hispanic and Latinx undergraduate students constitute at least 25% of the total enrollment-are among the most compositionally diverse postsecondary institutions in the United States. They can be instructive sites for preparing graduates for a pluralistic society and for engaging with and positively impacting racially diverse communities (Núñez et al., 2015). HSIs can support students by increasing their sense of belonging, cultural connections, identifications on campus, and academic self-concept (Cuellar, 2014;Guardia & Evans, 2008;Maestas et al., 2007;Sebanc et al., 2009). ...
Article
Employing critical race theory and a student resistance framework, this study qualitatively explored how minoritized college students view and interpret their racialized experiences in academic settings at a Hispanic-serving institution (HSI) and what strategies they have employed to manage and respond to the campus racial climate. Drawn from seven focus groups and eight in-depth interviews, the findings demonstrate that the studied campus promoted racial diversity but failed to facilitate the processes and practices to achieve the educational benefits of a diverse college campus. Study participants were keenly aware of the campus racial climate and encountered racism in a variety of forms. They strategically relied on informal networks for support and collective well-being and also engaged in subtle and creative strategies of resistance. The article includes recommendations for creating equitable, safe, productive environments for racially minoritized students at HSIs and elsewhere.
... There is a discernible "appreciative turn" in higher education research, with studies attempting to cast new light on institutions whose contributions and assets have not been completely or accurately captured in popular treatments, such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (e.g., Esters & Strayhorn, 2013;Gasman & Bowman, 2011) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (e.g., Garcia, 2016Garcia, , 2017Nuñez, Hurtado, & Calderon Galdeano, 2015). There is also a growing body of scholarship that attempts to correct for systematic neglect in research and policy of broad-access institutions (e.g., Crisp, Doran, & Salis Reyes, 2018). ...
Article
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