By Alan Chavoya, graduate assistant in the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion
On Sept. 12–13, Dr. Gina Ann García, a leading scholar on the organizational culture of Hispanic-Serving Institutions, gave a series of presentations to the Marquette community on culturally enhancing practices. García, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Administrative and Policy Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, uses critical race theory, organizational theory and student development theory with a strengths-based orientation to better understand issues of diversity and equity in institutions of higher education.
During her visit — which came nearly a year after delivering a keynote address, Decolonizing HSIs, at Marquette’s inaugural HSI Day of Reflection — García offered insightful presentations and met with administrators, faculty, staff and students to discuss Marquette’s own HSI initiative.
Highlights of García’s visit included her guest lecture to students in the Student Affairs in Higher Education graduate program and her workshop, “Incorporating Culturally Enhancing Practices in the Classroom.” Approximately 50 faculty, staff and administrators attended this workshop to learn about the most effective ways to “serve” Latinx and other minoritized students at HSIs. The workshop focused on classroom practices, including curriculum and pedagogy, to engage minoritized students and enhance their racial, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds while incorporating their ways of knowing.
Prior to her departure, García also met with the University Leadership Council and delivered a powerful presentation that highlighted the importance of decolonizing HSIs. This is a process whereby an institution recognizes the historical colonialism on which the political, economic, and social subjugation of racially, culturally, and ethnically minoritized people is grounded, and takes intentional steps to uncouple their organizational structures, policies, and practices from ways of operating that continue to marginalize students of color. According to García, it is only through decolonization efforts that an HSI can secure liberation, justice and equity — outcomes, she reminds us, that correspond to Marquette’s Catholic, Jesuit mission and values.