Faculty, staff, students and other members of the Marquette University community convened last month, to reflect on the first year since announcing that the university will seek the federal designation of Hispanic-Serving Institution. Alan Chavoya, graduate assistant in the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, provided this summary of the day’s events.
Provost Dan Myers kicked off Marquette University’s inaugural HSI Day of Reflection, which was co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Latinx Faculty and Staff Association. His opening remarks provided insight into Marquette’s motivation to seek the federal designation. Jacki Black, associate director for Hispanic Initiatives, then articulated the university’s specific goals and strategies, highlighting the initiative’s centrality to Marquette’s Catholic, Jesuit identity, as well as how it will benefit the entire Marquette community.
To help those in attendance further comprehend the meaning of an HSI and the requirements to become one, this year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Gina Ann García, assistant professor in the Department of Administrative and Policy Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, presented her research on HSIs. At its most basic level, an HSI is a two- or four-year accredited institution of higher education whose full-time undergraduate population is at least 25 percent Hispanic. García’s research, however, shows that what “HSI” really means depends significantly on the practices of individual institutions rather than on simply satisfying the federal requirements.
García developed a model for categorizing HSIs based on student outcomes — GPA, retention, graduation, civic participation, racial/ethnic identity salience, etc. — and organizational culture centered on Latinx students, such as faculty and staff diversity, support programs, and curricular diversity. Like many HSIs across the nation, Marquette could fulfill one of the first three categories: Latinx-enrolling (low outcomes, low culture), Latinx-enhancing (low outcomes, high culture) or Latinx-producing (high outcomes, low culture). But as Myers and Black propose, Marquette will strive for the fourth category, Latinx-serving (high outcomes, high culture). The question García left for those in attendance to ponder was how can Marquette move from Latinx-enrolling to truly Latinx-serving?
The subsequent panel of Latinx faculty, staff, and students and small-group discussions helped address this question. These discussions made it clear that to become Latinx-serving, the entire university must participate. It was encouraging to listen to people from various departments and offices at Marquette speak about ways they have been attempting to implement strategies to improve support for underrepresented students, faculty and staff. The efforts to make Marquette’s initiative successful are coming from many fronts, and if the university continues to develop the energy that was present at the reflection, it will be in excellent shape to not only achieve the federal designation of an HSI, but also to embody its spirit. Much has been accomplished and learned during the first year of this initiative, but in the true Jesuit-fashion, Marquette must continually strive for Magis.