UC San Diego on the Road to Becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution

UC San Diego Hispanic Institution BeLatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of La Jolla Light.

UC San Diego is on its way to becoming a federally recognized Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI).

At a time when the Hispanic community is deeply affected by the public health crisis of the Coronavirus pandemic, and after years of stigmatization and discrimination, the higher education institution wants to become the first college choice for future Latinx/Chicanx students.

Academic leaders, faculty, staff, and students gathered virtually to learn how to further transform UC San Diego into a student-centered university for Latinx/Chicanx student success at the HSI Summit on March 11.

According to the Department of Education, a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) is defined as an institution of higher education that has a full-time equivalent undergraduate enrollment of at least 25 percent Hispanic students at the end of the award year immediately preceding the date of application.

Now, UC San Diego is on its way to achieving precisely that.

As reported by the UC San Diego News Center, the event focused on the theme of “Why? Why Now? What’s At Stake?” and featured a keynote address led by representatives from UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz, a fireside conversation with UC San Diego senior administrators, and a panel with UC San Diego Latinx/Chicanx students.

“This summit serves as a source of inspiration and helpful reminder that we must continue taking meaningful action so that UC San Diego can better reflect and serve the diverse population of California,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “My hope is that every Triton can join us in our goal of becoming an HSI, and I challenge you all to work collaboratively with your colleagues to advance equity, build community and ensure the success of current and future Latinx and Chicanx students.”

During the keynote address, Dr. Pablo G. Reguerín, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UC Davis, and Juan Poblete, professor of literature at UC Santa Cruz, shared how their respective universities navigated the challenges and charted the path to achieving HSI designation. Reguerín explained that part of this journey is to see HSI status as a pathway to racial equity at all levels, from the entry point of undergraduate admissions to success in gateway courses for particular majors.

As the centerpiece of the conversation, Associate Vice Provost for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Frances Contreras moderated a discussion on the benefits of HSI status, how the designation fits into the student-centered mission of the campus, and more. Panelists included Elizabeth Simmons, executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs; Adele Brumfield, associate vice chancellor for Enrollment Management; Becky Petitt, vice chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; Frank Silva, chief of staff, Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; and Alysson Satterlund, vice chancellor for Student Affairs.

“Being designated as an HSI means that when prospective Latinx/Chicanx students and their loved ones come to campus, they will be welcomed into an inclusive and supportive learning environment enriched by people from different backgrounds,” said Becky Pettit, vice chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. “Through campus efforts such as the Latinx/Chicanx Academic Excellence Initiative and programs like the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship Program (CASP), we are actively working to ensure students have access to the resources they need to thrive in their personal, academic, and post-grad life as rising professionals.”

Thanks to its initiatives, UC San Diego is considered an emerging HSI because 20 percent of undergraduate Latinx students enrolled full-time as of fall 2020. This brings us closer to our goal of having a minimum of 25 percent of undergraduate Latinx students enrolled full-time, which would make us eligible for an HSI designation by the U.S. Department of Education.

In addition, recognized as a renowned research institution with a strong focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), UC San Diego has the goal of becoming a model HSI STEM.

UC San Diego is setting the standard for institutions nationwide that seek to pave the way for Latinx/Chicanx, immigrant, first-generation, and students of all socio-economic backgrounds.

Initiatives like UC San Diego’s ensure that the school-prison pipeline is ended, career possibilities for Latinx youth are expanded, and the stigma that prevents our community’s full potential from being realized is ended.