Garcia, G. A. (2015). Becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution: A Multiple Case Study Approach to Understanding the Process of Enrolling and Serving Latina/o Students. Research Grant Funded by the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions.
Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), defined as non-profit, degree-granting institutions that enroll 25% or more full-time equivalent undergraduate Latina/o students, are not only increasing in number but also in impact. They now enroll 60% of all Latina/o college students and confer 60% of all associates degrees and 40% of all bachelor’s degrees to this group. These institutions are poised to increase postsecondary outcomes for Latinas/os. Scholars, practitioners, and policy makers, however, are grappling with the question, “What does it mean for an institution to be Latina/o-serving?” The goal of this project is to explore the process of becoming an HSI, from simply enrolling Latina/o students to enhancing their educational attainment while simultaneously sustaining and enhancing their culture.
Using a multiple case design, this study will look at how four institutionally diverse, HSI eligible cases convey, enact, and/or prohibit the process of becoming an HSI. The proposed sites are located in a large metropolitan area and range in size and type, from small liberal arts, to mid-size public institutions granting master’s and doctoral degrees. The institutions also vary in their enrollment of Latina/o students, from 25%-90%, with only two of the four officially designated as HSIs by the federal government. Data collection will take place during the 2015-2016 year and will include interviews with administrators, faculty, and staff, as well as focus groups with students. Furthermore, observations and pictures will be used to illuminate the questions guiding this research.
This study contributes to educational research, nuancing our understanding of what it means to be Latina/o-serving. Furthermore, this study will offer practical solutions for transforming institutional structures in order to produce positive outcomes for Latinas/os, the fastest growing racialized group in the U.S. It also has implications for state and federal policy, as both entities seek ways to increase overall degree production and success for diverse students.