the goal bold and audacious, Metro State President Stephen Jordan
officially launched the Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) initiative
Thursday morning, April 19.
An estimated 120 faculty and staff attended the “Why HSI?” town hall
meeting in the Tivoli Turnhalle to hear Jordan and members of the
steering committee of a soon-to-be-formed HSI task force explain the
reasoning behind the Board of Trustees-mandated HSI goal (for Hispanics
to compose 25 percent of student enrollment) for Metro State.
Faculty Senate President Hal Nees opened the meeting by stating that
living up to the responsibility of educating all students is at the
heart of what Metro State is about.
Jordan explained the changing demographics in Denver and Colorado
that point toward an ever-increasing Latino population. For instance,
he pointed out that in the last 10 years, U.S. Census Bureau data show
a population increase in Colorado of not quite 6 percent; while at the
same time the state’s Latino population grew 17 percent.
Meanwhile, there is what Jordan calls a “shrinking pipeline” to
education for students of color. Even while the Latino population
grows, Colorado remains ranked 44th in sending students of color to
college. “A longitudinal look at the demographics of education in the
Denver metro area shows why,” Jordan said.
- Denver’s school district has the largest ethnic minority population
in the metropolitan area, with 80 percent of its students being of
- The Community College of Denver, which offers the most
diverse community college experience, has a population that is 48
percent students of color.
- Metro State has the largest minority student population of
any four-year institution in the Front Range at 24 percent. The state
average at four-year colleges is 17 percent.
Jordan also spoke of how it makes economic sense for Colorado to
graduate more students of color. “If Colorado could graduate and employ
students of color at the same rates as other students, it would
generate an additional $967 million in tax revenue each year,” he said,
citing figures from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher
Benefits to Metro State
concluded that economic and social realities dictate that Metro State
should and must increase its Latino student enrollment; he emphasized
that an HSI designation provides significant benefits to all students,
faculty and staff, not just Latinos.
“Once we achieve a 25 percent Latino population,” Jordan said, “this
designation opens up a world of possibilities for receiving grant
monies for activities that range from faculty development to renovation
of instructional facilities to student support services.”
Jordan cited U.S. Department of Education figures that show $96
million was awarded by the DOE to HSI institutions across the country
in 2005. Of this, Colorado’s five HSIs received approximately $1.4
million (Community College of Denver is the only one in the metro
area.) He added that many other governmental and private entities
target HSIs for their grants, including the National Endowment for the
Humanities, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the
American Association for Cancer Research.
HSI task force
The president announced that an HSI
steering committee, led by Associate Vice President of Enrollment
Management Judi Diaz Bonacquisti, has been working for several months
on a template for an HSI task force. He asked the audience to nominate
themselves or others to serve on five working groups: Assessment,
Retention and Recruitment, Public Relations, Campus Climate and
Professional Development. One faculty member and one staff person will
co-chair the 30- to 40-member task force
Along with Diaz Bonacquisti, the other steering committee members
are: Professor and Co-Director of the College Assistance Minority
Program (CAMP) Arthur Campa, Assistant Professor of Finance Juan
Dempere, School of Professional Studies Dean Sandra Haynes, Assistant
Vice President of Communications Cathy Lucas and Associate to the
President for Diversity Sallye McKee.
All but Lucas spoke at the meeting. Campa discussed learning
communities and the importance of support services, citing the high
retention and graduation rates of CAMP students and what has been
learned through this community of the most underserved population in
the state. “This is a team effort that involves our staff, College
services and the community people who support us,” he said.
Dempere discussed in further detail the funding that could be
available. As an example, he cited the University of Texas-Pan
American, which recently received 25 grants totaling $8 million because
it is an HSI. He also reiterated that the legislation which created
HSIs states that any funding must benefit the institution as a whole.
Diaz Bonacquisti discussed the importance of retaining and
graduating all students and how the committee has been researching
institutions designated as HSIs that have high retention and graduation
rates, such as the California State University-San Bernadino. “We have
a lot to learn from those institutions that we aspire to be like,” she
said, adding that the enrollment management area already has been
working toward improving recruitment and retention by revamping the
Excel and Summer Bridge Programs and “changing the way we do
recruitment of DPS students.”
Haynes announced that for the past two months, the College has been
working on a Faculty Development Center that will provide faculty with
grant-writing assistance for public and private funds. Once the College
reaches HSI designation, professors will be able to attain funding for
professional development, research projects and other projects that
“benefit themselves, our students and the college as a whole,” she
McKee wrapped up the presentation portion of the meeting with a call
for the College community to address head-on the issue of race, citing
concerns she had heard about HSI status. “We must work hard with each
other across cultural lines,” she said. “If we don’t stay at the table
and fight the good fight, someone else will walk off with our piece of
concerns were brought to light during the question-and-answer period
when Alton Clark, associate director of Veterans Upward Bound and a
member of the African American Affairs Council, asked how HSI status is
going to serve other campus groups.
“I’m here to say that all of us will do better as an HSI,” said
Jordan in response. He also cited the fact that East High School, one
of Metro State’s biggest feeder schools, has a large African American
population, as does Aurora Community College, which is set to become
the second community college with which Metro State will have a 2 + 2
Diaz Bonacquisti added, “The rising tide raises all boats. HSI will not be at the expense of any other group.”
Luis Torres, interim assistant dean of the School of Letters, Arts
and Sciences, praised the HSI goal, saying “I can’t think of any other
project in the state that is as ambitious and visionary.”
Editor’s Note: If you would like to nominate yourself or someone else to be on the HSI task force, e-mail McKee at email@example.com. For a copy of Jordan’s speech click on HSI Launch. The powerpoint presentation can be downloaded here. And a video of the meeting will be available Wednesday, April 25, here.
Top of Page