MSU Denver is ahead of schedule in reaching its goals to become a Hispanic Serving Institution.
As stated by the U.S. Department of Education, an HSI is defined as an eligible school that has an enrollment of at least 25 percent Hispanic undergraduate students based on full-time enrollment.
“Our average student doesn’t quite go full-time. They take about 11 credit hours,” said Judi Diaz Bonacquisti, associate vice president for enrollment services. “We have to be at 25 percent full-time enrollment, not 25 percent of head count,” she added.
MSU Denver’s Hispanic students make up at 18.1 percent full-time enrollment and 19.5 percent of head count, Bonacquisti said.
According to the Department of Education’s website, the Hispanic Serving Institutions program provides grants to assist HSIs to expand education opportunities for and improve the attainment of Hispanic students.
A college or university that has been designated an HSI by the federal government is eligible for additional grants and funding that may be used for a variety of different goals, but MSU Denver wants to make sure that an HSI designation would help the school as a whole.
“The policies that we put into place would be beneficial to all students, not just Hispanic students,” Bonacquisti said. “The moneys are not set aside so that they only help Hispanic students, staff or faculty.”
MSU Denver’s mission is to serve the Denver Metro area, Bonacquisti added. “Ninety-seven percent of our students come from the state of Colorado; 92 percent of them come from the seven-county metro area — by taking a proactive role in becoming an HSI, we’re really fulfilling our mission.”
According to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, one of the initial advocates of HSI designations and funding, there are currently seven HSI schools in Colorado — one of which is the Community College of Denver.
As stated on HACU’s website, in 2012, $100.4 million was appropriated for the HSI undergraduate program. They have recommended $175 million be appropriated for fiscal year 2013.
MSU Denver has been making big strides in serving the Hispanic community lately. The university has even been designated an emerging HSI, according to Bonacquisti.
“We developed a strategic enrollment plan by which we would become an HSI after ten years,” she said.
According to the Office of Marketing and Communications, Fall 2011 Latino enrollment was 18.2 percent, a level the college didn’t expect to reach until Fall 2012.
“In a lot of ways, [becoming an HSI] could be an economic driver for our state,” Bonacquisti said.