New Book Brings Practitioner Lens to Hispanic Serving Institutions

University of Pittsburgh School of Education faculty member Gina Garcia, who is recognized as a leading expert in the study of Hispanic Serving Institutions, recently published a new book, “Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) in Practice: Defining ‘Servingness’ at HSIs.”

Garcia collected and edited the 16 chapters that make up the book. Rather than focusing solely on the insights of higher education scholars, the individual chapters come from practitioners across the country who are implementing federal grants at HSIs, including Title III and Title V Developing HSI grants.

“I wanted to hear from practitioners who are on the ground at HSIs,” said Garcia. “I think people will like the book because it’s more practical, written by people actually doing the work instead of only presenting big ideas and theories.”

One chapter details how an institution restructured a gateway math course to make it more equitable for Latinx and low income (Pell grant) students. Another chapter shares how one one institution successfully implemented an HSI task force.

Since first being recognized through federal designation in 1992, the number of HSIs have been increasing rapidly, but there is relatively less written about them compared to other types of institutions. Garcia explains the gap in understanding HSIs, “There hasn’t been a clear definition of what it means to be an HSI. Institutions that become HSIs look to my work for guidance and for a framework for understanding servingness,” she said.

Garcia believes that her work closely connects to the School of Education’s mission-vision. She is a faculty member in the school’s Higher Education program, which offers master’s and doctorate programs to prepare student affairs personnel and senior administrators with a social justice curriculum. “I do research for the sake of equity and justice. I believe that research has the power to change things in practice for minoritized populations who in many ways have been oppressed within educational structures,” said Garcia.

Garcia co-authored the first chapter along with her doctoral advisee, Emily Koren. “It’s important to me to give all my PhD students the opportunity to publish book chapters and articles with me,” said Garcia. “I also needed a fresh perspective on HSIs for the first chapter and Emily was able to provide that.”

Koren is a third-year PhD student in Social and Comparative Analysis in Education.

“I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work on the book. In addition to an opportunity for publication, Professor Garcia provided me with an example of how one goes about editing a book, communicating with and recruiting authors, and the editing process,” said Koren.

Garcia has over 10 years experience in HSI research. Prior to that, she worked at an HSI implementing a Title V grant. She identifies as a member of the Latinx community and is a product of an HSI, California State University, Northridge.

Last year, Garcia published the critically acclaimed book “Becoming Hispanic Serving Institutions: Opportunities for Colleges and Universities” (Johns Hopkins University Press). The book includes case studies of HSIs and is meant to spark new conversations about HSI research, practice, and policy all over the country.

“My book provides concepts and evidence that institutions can use to improve themselves as they seek to better serve Latinx students. You can’t change things overnight, but you can take small steps to transform education,” said Garcia.

Learn more

Purchase Garcia’s book.

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