Silver City, NM—As the Hispanic population in the United States continues to grow, the role of higher educational institutions in educating this population becomes even more important. There is no time this is more apparent than this week, September 11-17, 2023, which is Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Week. HSIs are defined as having 25% or more undergraduate Hispanic student full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment. The percentage of FTE undergraduate Hispanic students at WNMU is 54.5%.
The HSI designation was recognized by the United States Congress in 1992, following a push by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), an organization that advocates on behalf of Hispanic students. “In 1992, HACU led the effort to convince Congress to formally recognize campuses with high Hispanic enrollment as federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institutions and to begin targeting federal appropriations to those campuses,” wrote Felipe de Ortego y Gasca in 2015. Ortego was Scholar in Residence at WNMU at the time.
WNMU was a founding member of HACU, which was created in 1986. Associate Professor of Finance Miguel Vicéns, who is active in HACU, said, “As a founding member of HACU, WNMU prides itself on serving all students and populations. During Hispanic Serving Institutions week and National Hispanic Heritage month, we are reminded of how privileged we are to have such a large Hispanic population on our campuses. As a bilingual Hispanic faculty in the School of Business at WNMU, I see the contributions and sacrifices Hispanic students make every day to improve themselves, be productive members of society, and provide a better future for their families.”
HSI Week was created to commemorate “the contributions of over 500 Hispanic-Serving Institutions nationwide in their work to advance postsecondary student success for all students,” according to the U.S. Department of Education website. The week serves “to heighten awareness of the important role HSIs play in improving access to education and advancing equity for traditionally underserved students,” HACU said in an official statement.
Vicéns also sees the week as a celebration of students’ hard work. “In celebrating Hispanic Serving Institution Week, and National Hispanic Heritage month, we acknowledge the importance of hard work,” he said, “Particularly when opportunities are given to the younger generations by improving access to education. Many of our graduates are first generation students whose parents never had the chance to go to college. These students make their families proud, and it is always heartwarming to see them all celebrate together their son’s and daughter’s achievements.”
Vicéns actively seeks out ways to enrich students’ lives both on and off campus. “As a representative of a Hispanic Serving Institution, it means the world to me to deliver opportunities to students to attend events that are meaningful,” said Vicéns, “The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities is one of those National Conferences I proudly take students to every year. The conference brings the best of the attendees, regardless of where they come from. It provides a bonding experience with their communities and helps open their eyes to professional opportunities in fields they may not have thought they could excel in.”
[Cutline: WNMU is proud to serve as a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution.]