Gina A. Garcia - Publications


Garcia, G. A. (2020). Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) in Practice: Defining "Servingness" at HSIs. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

As the general population of Latinxs in the United States burgeons, so does the population of college-going Latinx students. With more Latinxs entering college, the number of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), which are not-for-profit, degree granting postsecondary institutions that enroll at least 25% Latinxs, also grows, with 523 institutions now meeting the enrollment threshold to become HSIs. But as they increase in number, the question remains: What does it mean to serve Latinx students?

This edited book, Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) in Practice: Defining “Servingness” at HSIs, fills an important gap in the literature. It features the stories of faculty, staff, and administrators who are defining “servingness” in practice at HSIs. Servingness is conceptualized as the ability of HSIs to enroll and educate Latinx students through a culturally enhancing approach that centers Latinx ways of knowing and being, with the goal of providing transformative experiences that lead to both academic and non-academic outcomes. In this book, practitioners tell their stories of success in defining servingness at HSIs. Specifically, they provide empirical and practical evidence of the results and outcomes of federally funded HSI grants, including those funded by Department of Education Title III and V grants.

This edited book is ideal for higher education practitioners and scholars searching for best practices for HSIs in the United States. Administrators at HSIs, including presidents, provosts, deans, and boards of trustees, will find the book useful as they seek out ways to effectively serve Latinx and other minoritized students. Faculty who teach in higher education graduate programs can use the book to highlight practitioner engaged scholarship. Legislators and policy advocates, who fight for funding and support for HSIs at the federal level, can use the book to inform and shape a research-based Latinx educational policy agenda.

The book is essential as it provides a framework that simplifies the complex phenomenon known as servingness. As HSIs become more significant in the U.S. higher education landscape, books that provide empirically based, practical examples of servingness are necessary.

Garcia, G. A. (2019). Becoming Hispanic-Serving Institutions: Opportunities for Colleges and Universities. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) are defined by the federal government as not-for-profit, degree granting colleges and universities that enroll at least 25% or more Latinx students. But beyond the federal definition, there is uncertainty about what it means to serve Latinx students, particularly as HSIs are enrollment driven institutions that lack an historical mission to serve Latinxs. While some argue that equitable graduation rates are evidence of effectively serving Latinxs, others say that HSIs must provide a culturally enhancing educational experience. The author contends that both are important.

Becoming Hispanic-Serving Institutions is a book about three HSIs in Chicago, Illinois. The three are similar in that they meet the eligibility requirement to become HSIs, yet they are extremely different: one is public, two are private; one is medium size, two are small; one enrolls less than 30% Latinxs, one enrolls over 80%; one was established as an English-Spanish bilingual institution; one was established over 100 years ago and enrolled white students for a majority of its existence. The book lays out what it means for each to be an HSI, highlighting the differences in the way each approaches its role in serving Latinxs. The stories are written in narratives, centering the voices of the faculty, staff, and students within each of the three institutions.

The book is intended for higher education scholars and practitioners. It comes at an important time in history, as the number of colleges and universities eligible for HSI status increases every year. Yet there is a need to understand the opportunities and challenges of becoming an HSI. More

Book Chapters

Garcia, G. A., Ramirez, J. J., & Patron, O. E. (2020). Rethinking Weidman's models of socialization for Latinxs along the postsecondary educational pipeline. In J. C. Weidman & L. DeAngelo (Eds.), Socialization in higher education and early career: Theory, research, and practice. New York: Springer.

In this chapter, we explore the usefulness of Weidman’s socialization models for understanding the socialization of Latinx undergraduate and graduate students. Through a review of existing literature on Latinx undergraduate and graduate students’ integration, adjustment, and socialization, and through the lens of Latino Critical Theory (LatCrit), we highlight the ways in which Latinxs experience racist socializing contexts along the postsecondary educational pipeline and how this negatively affects their socialization process. Then, through the lens of Community Cultural Wealth (CCW), we highlight how Latinxs’ background and dispositions serve as assets as they navigate the white normative contexts of higher education. Based on this review, we challenge and rethink the Weidman models, offering theoretical suggestions for making them more applicable to the experiences of Latinxs along the postsecondary pipeline. We also offer a revised model that considers white supremacy as an underlying driving force in the socialization of Latinxs. We also add various forms of community cultural wealth to the model, and propose alternative, empowering socialization outcomes for Latinxs.

Garcia, G. A. & Hudson, L. T. (in press). Exploring the (racialized) contexts that shaped the emergence of Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) in Chicago: Implications for research and practice. In A. Hilton, B. Hinnant-Crawford, C. Newman, & S. Platt (Eds.), Multicultural education in the 21st century: Innovative research and practices. Charlotte, NC: Information Age.

In this chapter we focus on eligible Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), which are defined as accredited, degree-granting, nonprofit institutions that enroll at least 25% or more undergraduate Latinx students. By eligible we mean institutions that are eligible for federal designation as HSIs based on enrollment, but not necessarily designated. Additionally, we focus specifically on the racialized contexts that have shaped the emergence of HSIs in one urban city in the Midwest: Chicago, Illinois, which in fall 2014 was home to 12 two- and four-year HSIs (Excelencia in Education, 2016b). While there are debates about the extent to which HSIs are producing equitable outcomes for minoritized students (Contreras, Malcom, & Bensimon, 2008; Cunningham, Park, & Engle, 2014; Flores & Park, 2013; Malcom, 2010), we add a layer of complexity by suggesting that the racialized nature of the historical, political, and educational contexts within which HSIs have emerged negatively affect the outcomes of these students. In doing this, we offer suggestions for educational research and practice that take societal contexts into consideration.

Garcia, G. A. (2015). Using organizational theory to study Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs): An imperative research agenda. In A. M. Nuñez, S. Hurtado, & E. Calderón Galdeano (Eds.), Hispanic-Serving Institutions: Advancing research and transformative practices. New York: Routledge.

The purpose of this chapter titled "Using organizational theory to study Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs): An imperative research agenda" is to lay out a research agenda for those wishing to study institutions of higher education that meet the federal designation to be called a HSI. In this chapter I stress the importance of using the organization as the unit of analysis and theory to guide the research.


Garcia, G. A., Nunez, A.-M., Sansone, V. A. (2019). Toward a multidimensional conceptual framework for understanding "servingness" in Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs): A synthesis of the research. Review of Educational Research, 89(5), 745-784.
Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) are colleges and universities that enroll at least 25% Latinx students. Despite being recognized by the federal government since 1992, HSIs lack a historical mission to serve Latinxs. As such the idea of “servingness” has become an elusive concept. An abundance of literature centering HSIs has been published, yet there continues to be a debate about what it means to serve students. We conducted a systematic review of 148 journal articles and book chapters to better understand how researchers conceptualize the idea of servingness at HSIs. We identified four major themes used by researchers to conceptualize servingness: (1) outcomes, (2) experiences, (3) internal organizational dimensions, and (4) external influences. We also found that researchers are often unintentional in their efforts to conceptualize what it means to be an HSI. We offer a multidimensional conceptual framework of servingness to be used in research, policy, and practice More
Garcia, G. A. & Guzman-Alvarez, A. (2019). Descriptive analysis of graduate enrollment trends at Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs): 2005-2015. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education.

Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) are postsecondary institutions that enroll 25% Latinx undergraduate students, with little emphasis on graduate enrollment. Graduate enrollment was explored at HSIs, looking at trends over 10 years. Descriptive analyses and data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) were used, shedding light on enrollment inequities between Latinx undergraduate and graduate students. This study has implications for graduate HSIs, which can become primary educators of a diverse, highly educated future workforce.

Garcia, G. A., Ramirez, J. J., Patron, O. E., & Cristobal, N. L. (2019). Constructing an HSI organizational identity at three Hispanic-Serving Institutions in the Midwest: Ideal versus current identity. Journal of Higher Education. doi:10.1080/00221546.2018.1522198

As the number of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs; postsecondary institutions that enroll 25% or more Latinx students) in the United States increases annually, so does the need to theorize about what it means to have an HSI organizational identity. Using interview data from a multiple case study of three institutionally diverse HSIs in the Midwest, the purpose of this study was to apply the theoretical notions laid out in the Typology of HSI Organizational Identities about what it means for members to construct an organizational identity for serving Latinx students beyond the HSI federal designation. We utilized the typology to guide this study, seeking to better understand the misalignment between an ideal and currently constructed HSI identity. Findings confirm that the way members make sense of both an ideal HSI identity and a currently enacted identity are connected to outcomes and cultural indicators of what it means to serve Latinx students. Yet the ideal and the current identities do not always align, suggesting an HSI identity is transitional. Moreover, findings suggest that an HSI identity is likely connected to unique institutional missions and characteristics, which means it will vary across HSIs. Theoretical implications are discussed.

Scholars have been grappling with what it means to be a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), concluding that an HSI identity is closeted, political, and idealistic, but rarely enacted or embraced. But to what extent do students attending an HSI, or emerging HSI (eHSI), identify with an organizational identity for serving Latina/o students? The purpose of this study was to understand students’ identification with an identity for serving Latina/o students, and the relationship of this identification with their own racial/ethnic identity. Using data from interviews with students at one HSI and one eHSI, findings indicate that students’ level of identification with an HSI identity is more complex than simply being aware of it, with their level of identification varying based on their own racial/ethnic identification. This is important, as students’ identification with an organization can affect their satisfaction, sense of belonging, and ultimately their success within the institution. More
Garcia, G. A. (2018). Decolonizing Hispanic-Serving Institutions: A framework for organizing. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 17(2), 132-147. doi:10.1177/1538192717734289
Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) should realign their organizational approach in order to liberate themselves and their students. As colonized institutions enrolling colonized people, HSIs must recognize their history of colonialism before moving toward an organizational model grounded in decolonization. The Organizational Framework for Decolonizing HSIs has nine elements and is grounded in organizational theory, yet it challenges the white normative ways in which postsecondary institutions have been studied and the models that have been used to organize them. More

This study explores the ways in which emerging Hispanic Serving Institutions, or those postsecondary institutions that enroll between 15%-24% Latina/o college students, contribute to civic engagement for diverse college students. Findings show that students’ perceptions of their academic validation and of a curriculum of inclusion in the classroom, as well as their involvement in campus-facilitated diversity programs, positively predict their civic engagement.

Garcia, G. A. & Ramirez, J. J. (2018). Institutional agency at a Hispanic Serving institution (HSI): Using social capital to empower students. Urban Education, 53(3), 355-381. doi:10.1177/0042085915623341

As enrollment driven postsecondary institutions, Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) must actively find ways to better “serve” their students, many of which originate from urban school districts. Guided by Stanton-Salazar’s framework of institutional agency, this study sought to understand how institutional leaders use their agency and various forms of capital to develop structures that support and empower students of color, low-income students, and first generation students. Using data from a case study of one four-year, master’s granting HSI, we highlight how four institutional actors serve as empowerment agents for students, seeking ways to challenge the status quo in order to develop the structures, programs, and policies necessary for serving minoritized students.

Garcia, G. A. (2018). What does it mean to be Latinx-serving? Testing the utility of the Typology of HSI Organizational Identities. Association of Mexican American Educators (AMAE) Journal, 11(3), 109-138.
While scholars agree that enrolling a large percentage of Latinx students is not enough for postsecondary institutions to be considered “Latinx-serving,” there continues to be a debate about what it means for institutions to have an organizational identity for serving this population. The Typology of HSI Organizational Identities is a guiding framework that suggests there are multiple ways for an institution to serve Latinx students, and thus multiple “types” of Hispanic- Serving Institutions (HSIs). The typology considers academic and non-academic outcomes for Latinx students as well as the institution’s ability to provide a culture that enhances their racial/ethnic experience. In this study, I used the typology to classify four HSIs and two emerging HSIs in the Midwest, a geographic area in the United States with a growing population of Latinxs and HSIs. I drew on secondary data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and primary data from institutional websites. In doing so, I sought to test the utility of the typology for classifying institutions for research, practice, and policy, and found that it is a useful tool for looking at how postsecondary institutions may serve Latinx students beyond enrollment. Implications for research, practice, and policy are discussed. More
Garcia, G. A. (2017). Defined by outcomes or culture? Constructing an organizational identity for Hispanic-Serving Institutions. American Educational Research Journal. 54(1S), 111S-134S. doi:10.3102/0002831216669779
While Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) enroll at least 25% Latinx students, the perennial question facing HSIs is, ‘‘What does it mean for postsecondary institutions to be Latinx-serving’’—essentially an organizational identity question. Guided by the extant literature on organizational identity, culture, and institutionalism and using an in-depth case study of a federally designated, four-year HSI, this study focused on the way members construct an organizational identity for serving Latinxs. Findings suggest that while members constructed an ideal Latinx-serving identity based on legitimized outcomes (i.e., graduation), they constructed their current identity from environmental cues about cultural practices. Using two theoretical lenses, I present a typology that considers outcomes and culture in a Latinx-serving identity. Future research should explore the construction of a Latinx-serving identity in a nuanced way. More
Garcia, G. A., Huerta, A. H., Ramirez, J. J., & Patrón, O. E. (2017). Contexts that matter to the leadership development of Latino male college students: A mixed methods perspective. Journal of College Student Development, 58(1), 1-18. doi:10.1353/csd.2017.0000
As the number of Latino males entering college increases, there is a need to understand their unique leadership experiences. This study used a convergent parallel mixed methods design to understand what contexts contribute to Latino male undergraduate students’ leadership development, capacity, and experiences. Quantitative data were gathered by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) and further elucidated by one-on-one interviews with 24 Latino males attending four institutions in two regions. Contexts that influenced Latino males’ leadership development included fraternities, ethnic student organizations, and internships. Peer contexts were also significant. Practical implications for working with Latino male college students are offered. More
Patrón, O. E. & Garcia, G. A. (2016). The convergence of social identities and environmental contexts in facilitating Latino male resilience. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 38(4), 523-545. doi:10.1177/0739986316669496
While Latino/as are the largest racial/ethnic group in the United States, they continue to face challenges throughout their educational careers. Latino males, in particular, are said to be vanishing from higher education, earning fewer degrees than their female counterparts. Using in-depth interviews with 24 Latino male collegians, we sought to understand the process of resilience for this population, looking specifically at the factors that enhance their educational access and success within postsecondary institutions. The data demonstrate the social identities and environmental contexts that foster resilience for Latino males, despite adversities they may face. Four main themes arose, illuminating the challenges Latino males may face in their path to college and elucidating the ways they use their identities as motivation and the educational contexts that support their resilience. We highlight resilience as a process, calling for educators to consider the ways in which they can support Latino males’ aspirations into and through college. More
Garcia, G. A. (2016). Complicating a Latina/o-serving Identity at a Hispanic Serving Institution. The Review of Higher Education, 40(1), 117-143. doi:10.1353/rhe.2016.0040

As institutions not founded to “serve” Latina/o students, Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) are criticized for solely being “Hispanic-enrolling,” with access and graduation rates being hypothesized as indicators of an organizational identity for HSIs. Drawing from a case study with 88 participants, the purpose of this investigation was to complicate what it means to be Latina/o-serving by listening to the way students, faculty, and administrators at a four-year HSI construct their Latina/o-serving identity. Findings show that members made sense of their organizational identity through an expression of values and processes for sustaining and enhancing the culture and education of Latina/o students.

Garcia, G. A., Patrón, O. E., Ramirez, J. J., & Hudson, L. T. (2016). Identity salience for Latino male collegians at Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), emerging HSIs, and non-HSIs. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education. doi:10.1177/1538192716661907
This article challenges the notion of underachievement of Latino male collegians by examining those who successfully enter higher education. Using in-depth interviews, we analyze the way three different institutional types contribute to the racial/ethnic identity salience of Latinos, looking specifically at the curricular and co-curricular structures available at a Hispanic Serving Institution(HSI) and emerging HSI in comparison with non-HSIs. Findings reveal differences in identitysalience based on the college context. More
Garcia, G. A. & Johnston-Guerrero, M. P. (2015). Challenging the utility of a racial microaggressions framework through a systematic review of racially biased incidents on campus. Journal of Critical Scholarship on Higher Education and Student Affairs, 2(1).

Despite claims of being in a “postracial” era, racially biased incidents pervade college and university campuses across the U.S., as evidenced in the continual media coverage of such incidents. In recognizing the complexities of these incidents, we sought to offer a contemporary review of racially biased incidents on college and university campuses and to explore the extent to which they represent covert forms of racial microaggressions versus more overt forms of racism. We conducted a content analysis of all news-making racially biased incidents that occurred on college and university campuses between August 1, 2005 and May 1, 2010, identifying 205 incidents. We classified these incidents by mode of delivery, racial content/symbolism, and type of racial (micro)aggression. While a number of these incidents can be best understood through a microaggressions framework, many are blatantly racist and do not fit the theory. Higher education and student affairs researchers and practitioners must understand these incidents for their complexities, recognizing that both overt and covert forms of racism are prevalent on campus.

Garibay, J. C., Herrera, F. A., Johnston, M. P., & Garcia, G. A. (2015). Layers of influence: Exploring institutional- and state-level effects on college student views toward access to public education for undocumented immigrants. Research in Higher Education. doi:10.1007/s11162-015-9400-0
Providing undocumented immigrants access to public education remains a pertinent issue facing both institutions of higher education and state governments. While instate resident tuition (ISRT) has remained a contentious policy, little is known about how such policies, as well as other state contexts, influence college students’ attitudes toward unauthorized immigrant students’ educational access. Using three-level multilevel models, we sought to understand how political, economic, and demographic contexts at the institutional and state level affect the development of US citizen students’ views toward undocumented immigrants’ access to public education during their undergraduate years. After controlling for student-level effects, findings show that institutional variables such as selectivity, control, and percentage of low-income students enrolled contribute to students’ attitude development. At the state level, findings show that students who attend institutions within states that have ISRT policies have more positive views towards undocumented immigrants’ access to public education at the end of college. This research highlights the critical need for higher education researchers, institutional leaders, and policy makers to better understand how institutional and state contexts shape students’ understanding of larger sociopolitical issues.
Garcia, G. A. (2015). Exploring student affairs professionals' experiences with the campus racial climate at a Hispanic Serving Institution. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 8(2). doi:10.1037/a0039199

While we know that people experience the campus racial climate differently based on their racial/ethnic identity, less is known about how they perceive the climate based on the racial/ethnic diversity of their institution and specifically within their department. Instead, the campus racial climate has largely been studied at Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) and from a macro-level, suggesting that experiences and perceptions are not only similar across all institutions, but within institutions. Furthermore, we know little about how student affairs professionals make meaning of the campus racial climate. Guided by the Multi-contextual Model for Diverse Learning Environments (MMDLE), this study explored the way student affairs professionals at a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) experience and perceive diversity. Findings show that the compositional diversity of the department largely affects perceptions and behaviors, confirming that while there may be differences in the way student affairs professionals experience the campus racial climate based on their social identities, perceptions also vary based on the microclimate in which they work.

Garcia, G. A. & Okhidoi, O (2015). Culturally relevant practices that "serve" students at a Hispanic Serving Institution. Innovative Higher Education, 40(4). doi:10.1007/s10755-015-9318-7

As institutions not founded to “serve” Latina/o students, Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) must actively change their curricula and programs to meet the needs of their diverse population, including Latina/o, low income, and first generation students. Using a case study approach, including interviews and focus groups, this study examined culturally relevant practices at one HSI, including the ethnic studies curriculum and student support programs. Specifically, findings highlight how the Chicana/o Studies department and the Educational Opportunity Program have historically served underrepresented students and the ways in which such programs are embedded within the structures of the institution. This study has implications for HSIs and other institutions enrolling and serving diverse populations.

Eagan, M. K., Hurtado, S., Chang, M. J., Garcia, G. A., Herrera, F. A., & Garibay, J. C. (2013). Making a difference in science education: The impact of undergraduate research programs. American Educational Research Journal, 50(4), 683-713.

To increase the numbers of underrepresented racial minority students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), federal and private agencies have allocated significant funding to undergraduate research programs, which have been shown to increase students’ intentions of enrolling in graduate or professional school. Analyzing a longitudinal sample of 4,152 aspiring STEM majors who completed the 2004 Freshman Survey and 2008 College Senior Survey, this study utilizes multinomial hierarchical generalized linear modeling and propensity score matching techniques to examine how participation in undergraduate research affects STEM students’ intentions to enroll in STEM and non-STEM graduate and professional programs. Findings indicate that participation in an undergraduate research program significantly improved students’ probability of indicating plans to enroll in a STEM graduate program.

Herrera, F. A., Garibay, J. C., Garcia, G. A., & Johnston, M. P. (2013). Documenting attitudes toward undocumented immigrant access to public education: A multi-level analysis. The Review of Higher Education, 36(4), 513-549. doi:10.1353/rhe.2013.0043

This study investigates how students' views toward undocumented immigrants' access to public education change during college. A multilevel analysis among a national sample of 12,388 undergraduates, drawn from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program's (CIRP) Freshman Survey and College Senior Survey, revealed that significant predictors of senior-year views include various student characteristics and predispositions, political contexts, college experiences, and institutional contexts. Given the often-hostile debates over undocumented immigrants' participation in American education, the findings have broad implications for college access, campus climate, and the way institutions of higher education think about their role in shaping students' understanding of this compelling issue.

As the population of college-aged Latinas/os grows, the number of Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) increases. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the percentage of Latinas/os has an effect on the institutional graduation rates of Latina/o students attending HSIs, emerging HSIs, and non-HSIs. Data were drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and the sample included 296 institutions. A structural equation model was used to confirm predictors of graduation rates


Technical Reports

Garcia, G. A., Ramirez, J. J., Patron, O. E., & Medina, O. (2017). Reframing Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs): A Counterstory of a "Latinized" Institution in the Midwest. Philadelphia: Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions.
The purpose of this research brief is to reframe the research and policy perspective on Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). Specifically, we answer the following question: What does a “Latinized” postsecondary institution look like? This report is based on qualitative interview data from a multi-site case study of three HSIs in the Midwest. Rather than looking at data that are typically used to determine an institution’s value and prestige (i.e., SAT/ACT scores, selectivity, graduation rates, persistence rates), here we use the participants’ stories in order to make sense of what it means, beyond White normative standards, to effectively serve Latinx students. We use a critical race counterstory methodology to tell a story about HSIs from an assets-based perspective.


Garcia, G. A. & Crandall, J. R. (2016, July). Am I overreacting? Understanding and combatting microaggressions. Higher Education Today: A Blog by the American Council on Education.
Gina A. Garcia


University of Pittsburgh
4318G Wesley W. Posvar Hall
230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260