Texas State marks 10 Years as Hispanic Serving Institution
Whether you say diez años or 10 years, for Texas State University the decade-long designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) has become a point of pride.
The U.S. Department of Education designation requires a minimum enrollment of at least 25% undergraduate Hispanic students to qualify. As of fall 2021 approximately 44% of incoming first-time Texas State students are Hispanic, said Nick Weimer, associate dean of University College Compliance, Assessment, and Sponsored Programs.
“That is our largest cohort of Latinx students yet,” Weimer said, adding that the figure represents a large growth in Hispanic enrollment from the original 25% achieved in 2010.
“It means a lot,” said Dr. Victoria Black, associate dean of Student Services. “HSI was a strategic goal, a successful one. Texas State became HSI eligible in fall 2010, two years prior to the strategic goal of achieving HSI status; and we received our official designation in 2011,” Black said.
Dr. Toni Moreno, assistant director for Hispanic and First-Generation Student Retention in Institutional Inclusive Excellence for Student Initiatives, agrees that Texas State has embraced its designation identity. What HSI has “meant for all our students is enrollment at an institution reflecting the demographics of Texas,” she said. “Being an HSI means we value, support and embrace Hispanic students, their identities and cultures.” Moreno works alongside Sylvia Gonzalez, director, Title III STEM Impact & Title V Project Maestros, overseeing a majority of the HSI programming.
The HSI designation was created to target federal appropriations for competitive funding programs assisting institutions with at least 25% Hispanic enrollment. Since receiving the designation, Texas State has received more than $48.7 million in awards from HSI targeted programs at the Department of Education, National Science Foundation, Department of Agriculture, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Department of Defense, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
“Attending Texas State means our Latinx students are attending a majority-minority institution,” said Moreno, who is credited by university leadership for elevating and advancing the school’s HSI status.
Black said that in the decade since achieving HSI, the true impact of its programs, funding, enhanced academic offerings and research opportunities can be measured and quantified. “The HSI designation has evolved. It is shaping our institutional identity; it’s providing opportunity for access and it’s about celebrating familia y cultura,” she said.
Black sees the tangible results whenever she speaks with students drawn to Texas State by the HSI designation. “Texas State will help them become leaders among the fastest growing ethnic population in the United States,” she said.
Ten years as an HSI is cause for celebration; a weeklong celebration. This includes a symposium, a community day, and a 10th anniversary banquet; all taking place in September during Hispanic Heritage Month.
Among the programs that have really impacted first generation college graduates, according to Weimer, is the Personalized Academic and Career Exploration (PACE) program. The PACE Center provides all first-year students with a network of dedicated faculty, staff, and student mentors/coaches to support their transition into college life. The program supports nearly every incoming Hispanic student in their first year at the university through academic advising, career counseling, and peer mentoring. Weimer said this approach has been effective in supporting underrepresented student success.
“These programs are all doing amazing work on our campus to serve traditionally underrepresented students and faculty,” Weimer said. “We are transforming the lives of all of our students, and their families and communities.”