Hispanic-Serving Colleges And Universities

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Hispanic-Serving Colleges And Universities Powered By Docstoc
					Hispanics constitute the fastest-growing minority population in the United States.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics represented 12.5 percent of the
national population of 281 million in 2000. This is also a fairly young population: 36
percent of Hispanics are under eighteen years of age, and only 5 percent are age
sixty-five or older. Moreover, only slightly more than half of all Hispanics are high
school graduates, and thus are employed more in service and unskilled occupations
than are non-Hispanic whites. In light of these statistics, Hispanic-serving institutions
(HSIs) have become important colleges and universities for increasing Hispanics'
access to college and improving their economic opportunities. HSIs are still largely
unknown and little understood by most educators and policymakers in the United
States. Although HSIs represent almost 6 percent of all postsecondary institutions,
they enroll approximately half of all Hispanic students in college, granting more
associate and baccalaureate degrees to Hispanic students than all other American
colleges or universities combined. Despite these impressive outcomes, a federal
definition for HSIs exists only in the Higher Education Act of 1965, under Title V, as
amended in 1992 and 1998. The 1998 legislation defines HSIs as accredited,
degree-granting, public or private, nonprofit colleges and universities with 25 percent
or more total undergraduate, full-time equivalent, Hispanic student enrollment. HSIs
with this enrollment must also meet an additional criterion to qualify for Title V funds,
which stipulates that no less than 50 percent of its Hispanic students must be
low-income individuals. The recruitment and retention of Hispanics to college has
been the subject of long-standing concern among educators, policymakers, and
practitioners. Although still largely unknown, HSIs attract and retain Hispanics in
larger numbers than all other postsecondary institutions. Specifically, HSIs educate
over 1.4 million students in the United States, of which 50 percent are Hispanic and
another 20 percent are students from other ethnic backgrounds. In fact, HSIs might
also be called minorityserving institutions, in light of the high percentage of diverse
student populations they routinely educate. The History of HSIs The vast majority of
HSIs were not created to serve a specific population, as historically black colleges and
universities (HBCUs) and tribal colleges were, but rather evolved, starting around
1970, due to their geographic proximity to Hispanic populations and to demographic
shifts. With the exceptions of Hostos Community College and the four-year
institutions of Boricua College and National Hispanic University, HSIs do not have
charters or missions that address distinctive purposes and goals for Latinos. On the
other hand, HBCUs, which were begun as early as the nineteenth century, and tribal
colleges, which were founded after 1970, intentionally serve their target student
populations in accordance with their declared mission statements. However, the
incredibly rapid growth of Hispanic-serving colleges and universities since the 1970s
has conferred on them an ad hoc mission to serve the Hispanic population, and they
are recognized as such by Congress and the Higher Education Act. The designation of
HSIs, and the development of a national awareness of HSIs, is essentially due to the
Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), which was founded in
1986. The concept of linking all colleges and universities serving high proportions of
Hispanics into an association to gain national recognition and resources was the work
of a group of prominent Hispanic educators. Working relationships with corporations,
foundations, and federal government agencies were formed to increase funding and
services to these institutions. These resources led to providing greater professional
growth and development opportunities for Hispanic students, faculty, and
administrators. In forming the HACU, a national office in San Antonio, Texas, and
another in Washington, D.C., were established to parlay the organization into a
national player in the educational, political, and policymaking arenas. As an advocate,
HACU focuses on educating policy-makers and national leaders about Hispanic
educational needs and the resulting economic and political implications for a more
democratic and just society. The rise of HSIs has been rather rapid since these
institutions were first recognized nationally. Their rapid growth stems primarily from
three significant factors. First, the civil rights movement of the 1960s and college
outreach efforts opened up educational opportunities to less traditional college-going
populations, including Hispanics and others from diverse racial and ethnic
backgrounds. This movement was accompanied by the development of federal and
state financial aid that made it possible for more students to go to college. Second,
Hispanic immigration to the United States has increased, especially in large urban
areas and along the southwest border of the nation. Third, Hispanics are continuing to
move into communities where other Hispanics already are established and that are
geographically near higher education institutions. Migration patterns, however, also
indicate that Hispanics are moving into regions of the country where they have not
been before as they seek jobs and more affordable housing.
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