SIP 6.14 Hispanic Serving Institution Status: What it means for Us!

Thirsty for a Strong Instructional Practice?

There has been a lot of buzz on campus this year about our achieving “HSI status.” In fact, everyone seems to be talking about it! But what exactly is “HSI,” and what does it mean for our students and our university?

Take a SIP of This: Hispanic Serving Institution Status: What it Means for Us!

“Hispanic Serving Institution” is an official designation from the U.S. Department of Education, requiring an institution achieve a minimum enrollment of 25% Hispanic students (FTE—Full-Time Equivalent). Currently, 5,348 Hispanic students are enrolled at MSU Denver, or 26.3% of our population. 

The HSI status, once confirmed by the U.S. Department of Education, will make MSU Denver eligible for to apply and compete for funding from the Department of Education and such Federal entities as the Department of Agriculture, Homeland Security, and others. These grants can be used for equipment, capital projects, educational materials, counseling programs, and other programs to strengthen the University as a whole.

Has MSU Denver always been an HSI?  No. In the academic year 2007-2008, then-President Stephen Jordan and the Board of Trustees set MSU Denver on a path toward becoming an Hispanic Serving Institution. After a concerted effort throughout the University, we finally achieved this enrollment this semester, Fall 2017.

How did we get here, then?  This HSI achievement was truly a campus-wide initiative, with representatives on task forces and committees from all corners of the University. Since then, additional Task Forces have been established to follow up on the work of the original group. The most recent Task Force worked through 2015, issuing its report January of 2016, with 21 additional recommended strategies and policies.

Why is it such a major accomplishment for us?  MSU Denver has always held as central to its mission a goal of providing excellent education to as many residents of our service area as possible. Becoming an HSI represents one of the most significant civil rights education gains for underrepresented students in Colorado’s recent past, since our percentage enrollment of Hispanics—previously one of the most underrepresented groups in education in Colorado—is now roughly equivalent to the percentage of Hispanics in the Denver and metropolitan area that we serve. 

How does being an HSI relate to undocumented or DACA students?  The vast majority of undocumented students in the state of Colorado are Hispanic. Historically, state and federal laws required that undocumented students essentially be classified as international or non-American students despite their years of residency and educational history in Colorado;  this classification relegated them to the out-of-state tuition category and made a college education financially prohibitive or even impossible. Following several years of legal battle, and due in large part to the efforts of President Jordan and the HSI Task Force, the State Legislature passed the ASSET legislation (SB-015 in 2013) to provide In-State tuition throughout Colorado (ASSET legislation requires them to have started in a Colorado school by their sophomore year, age 15.) This leadership was soon emulated by several other states.

How does the HSI initiative impact my classroom?  It is important to realize that our collective mission is not to produce equality—meaning that everyone is treated or comes out the same—but rather to promote equity, which means that every student is given the same opportunity to achieve the goal of attaining a college education. The HSI initiative at MSU Denver brings our equity goals to the forefront, and all of us can filter this down to day-to-day practice in the classroom. Many of the SIPs you find at help with including and educating students from diverse backgrounds in the classroom.

MSU Denver’s HSI Initiative has been and continues to be a multifaceted educational enterprise, eminently representative of the University’s mission and core values. Our collective work toward educational equity and future progress as a diverse and vibrant institution will continue!

Still Thirsty? Take another SIP of Hispanic Serving Institution Status: What it means for Us!

To learn more about the difference between ASSET and DACA, read here

Check out this great article called, “Pedagogy for Equity:  Teaching in a Hispanic Serving Institution.”

Or this one, “Hispanic Serving Institutions:  What are they?  Where are they?”

Finally, you can look into HACU:  the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.  MSU Denver is a member of this organization and many faculty, staff and students have attended their annual conferences, both nationally and internationally.

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