By Donna Fowler
The hard work of faculty and staff since 2008 has put MSU Denver one year ahead of schedule on increasing Latino enrollment to reach Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) status.
A number of the recommendations of the HSI Task Force have been realized—everything from adding master’s programs and requiring students to declare a major by 45 credit hours to the development and expansion of the Excel and Journey Through Our Heritage programs. A version of another recommendation, in-state tuition for undocumented students, came to fruition with the Board of Trustees’ vote this summer to offer the Colorado High School/GED Non-resident Tuition Rate. And while these undocumented students (currently 237) cannot be counted toward HSI designation, MSU Denver’s leadership in this issue is reaping benefits at the federal level toward the HSI goal, according to President Stephen Jordan.
At the Nov. 14 HSI update meeting, Jordan said the University’s stand on providing college access to undocumented students has significantly enhanced MSU Denver’s status as an Emerging HSI among congressional delegations from other states that have many HSIs. “It has legitimized our position as a spokesperson for college attainment for Latinos,” he said.
In meetings with federal Department of Education officials and congressmen, Jordan said that he also used MSU Denver as a model for achieving sustained growth in Latino enrollment over time (13 percent in 2008 to 19.3 percent in 2012) through the HSI initiative. The goal of the meetings? To have the government recognize Emerging HSIs as a category. (Excellencia in Education named MSU Denver an Emerging HSI in 2010.)
According to Jordan, this recognition could lead to the awarding of planning grants, like those given to full HSIs but for lesser amounts. “We’re suggesting $200,000, since they couldn’t go as high as the $500,000-$600,000 HSI grants."
Jordan added that Texas Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, vice chair of the Hispanic Caucus, expressed his support for Emerging HSI planning grants. And Jordan thinks that the idea will be “put out there for legislative reaction” before actual legislation is introduced in 2014.
“All this is a long-winded way of saying that what the HSI Task Force has done has had significant impact beyond our campus,” Jordan said.
After speaking, Jordan turned the meeting over the HSI Task Force Co-Chair Judi Diaz Bonacquisti, associate vice president for enrollment management. Her PowerPoint presentation covered the history of HSIs, including current numbers, national demographics and MSU Denver demographics. One particularly interesting statistic showed that while HSIs represent only 10 percent of all post-secondary institutions, they enroll 53 percent of all Latinos enrolled in college.
According to the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, the percentage of Latino public high school graduates is projected to increase nationally from 19 percent of all graduates today to 26 percent by 2022.
At MSU Denver, 4,475 of this fall semester’s students are Hispanic/Latino, up from 2,734 in 2005. “Right now we have more Latino students enrolled at MSU Denver than Adams State College—which is already an HSI—has in its entire student population,” Diaz Bonacquisti said, driving home the point regarding Emerging HSI recognition.
In headcount, the University’s Latino student population was projected to be 4,204 this semester, and the total FTE was projected to be 1,393; it is currently 1,468.
Following Diaz Bonacquisti’s presentation, Cathy Lucas, associate to the president for marketing and communications, handed out an HSI status update fact sheet and asked that anyone who would like to have copies to distribute at community meetings contact office manager Damen Glover at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The meeting wrapped up with Deputy Provost Luis Torres, co-chair of the HSI Task Force, explaining that the next steps would be for an HSI Task Force subcommittee to “see how far we’ve come and how far we have to go with each of the 55 recommendations” in the task force’s 2010 report.
The subcommittee, Torres said, will determine if resources need to be refocused and whether any of the recommendations are no longer applicable.
A final report will be submitted to Jordan and the Board of Trustees in March, he said.
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