Being a Hispanic Serving Institution

Date: October 15, 2015
To: 
Campus Community
From: Paul J. Zingg, President
Subject: Being a Hispanic Serving Institution

As most of you know, one of the most important priorities for our campus is to increase our awareness, knowledge, and appreciation of diversity, and become a more inclusive university. In that light, I’m very excited to share with you news of our progress toward becoming a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). The primary qualification is to have at least 25 percent of student enrollment be Hispanic. We have reached and exceeded that mark – it stands at approximately 28.5 percent this fall – and so we are preparing an application to the Department of Education that includes other campus-based data that will qualify us. While we are already considered HSI by the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities, the federal status will give us access to grants that can help fund a number of areas, including internships, equipment and facilities, professional development and research.

I’m delighted to announce that Teresita Curiel, Assistant Director of Admissions and Outreach, has agreed to serve in a new role as Assistant Director of HSI Initiatives. She will manage our process of gaining federal HSI status as well as apply for grants and oversee other related HSI projects and opportunities that will develop. She will also work closely with our University Diversity Council and Chicano/Latino Council, who have done much of the preparation work to get us to this point. Please join me in congratulating Teresita and supporting her work in this important new effort.

We have long anticipated the changing demographics of our student population; as I mentioned in my fall Convocation address, with 58 percent of our first-time freshmen identifying as students of color – compared to 22 percent a decade ago – the change has arrived. It is gratifying to be able to serve a diverse student body, reflecting the diversity of our state and, indeed, the world; yet there is much work that lies ahead of us. Graduation rates differ for many students of color compared to whites, and while we have halved the so-called achievement gap between these populations, it still stands at 10 percent. Even though faculty and staff groups such as the Black Faculty and Staff Association and the afore-mentioned Chicano/Latino Council are doing outstanding work serving students, the campus must do more to recruit faculty and staff of color to our campus, which is so important for our increasingly diverse student body.

In our aspirations for a diverse and inclusive campus where all can succeed, expectations must remain high. It is one thing to qualify as a Hispanic Serving Institution, but it is another to embrace the intent; what would it mean to be truly Hispanic serving? It is in our nature at Chico State to be on the forefront of change in higher education.  We have been a trail-blazer with programs such as EOP, CAVE and CLIC; we strive for the same with newer programs like REACH (Raising Educational Achievement in Collaborative Hubs), which won an award from the National Network for Educational Renewal on campus earlier this month. It is equally our nature to be committed to our service area. As some of you are aware, the North State trails most of the rest of the state in college-going rates. We have exceptional programs like Upward Bound and Educational Talent Search serving these students, and we hope with our HSI status we can do even more for the Hispanic/Latino/Latina population of the North State. But it’s important to add that our commitment to them is no greater than the other underrepresented and underserved populations in the region; whether it is Native American, African-American, Hmong, Sikh, veterans, the LGBTQ+ community or other groups, we must provide a pathway to an undergraduate degree for them.

I will be back in touch with more updates on our diversity efforts in the coming weeks. Thank you for all you are doing to make Chico State a welcoming and success-oriented university for everyone.