Hispanic Serving Institutions develop educators

By Francisco Ramos, Andrés Castro Samayoa, Alice Ginsberg, and Marybeth Gasman

According to the U.S. Census, the United States will be a “minority-majority” country in 2050. As the ethnic and racial composition of students in U.S. higher education continues to diversify, it is critical that we take a moment to pause and reflect on the integral role that Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) play in recruiting, training, and producing future teachers of color. (Title V of the U.S. Department of Education categorizes a higher education Hispanic Serving Institution as one that has a total Hispanic student population of over 25% at the end of the award year immediately preceding the date of application.) HSIs play an important role in educating Latino youth — the largest, youngest, and fastest growing population in the U.S. Currently, there are over 370 HSIs; at least 68% of those are community colleges.

According to Núñez and colleagues (2011), Latinos who attend HSIs, when compared to their non-HSI counterparts, are more likely to be first-generation, male, older, and have higher grade point averages and educational expectations. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that HSIs conferred a total of 144,016 bachelor degrees in 2013. Of the total number of degrees conferred, approximately 24.7% went to men of color, with a total of 789 being in education.

Degrees conferred at Hispanic Serving Institutions (2013)

Total degrees conferred


Degrees (BA) conferred in education


Degrees (BA) conferred to traditional minority group individuals


Degrees (BA) conferred to men of color


Degrees conferred to men of color in education (BA, first major)


The figures presented are promising. However, there are other dynamics that help explain the retention and success of Latino students at HSIs: campus outreach programs, initiatives and organizations. At New Mexico State University, for example, ENLACE (Spanish for “to weave together”) is a university based organization that brings together community partners, parents and public schooling stakeholders to create and support a campus culture that is more responsive, accountable, accessible, and supportive of Latino students’ educational success.

Particularly, ENLACE has three programs: Parental Engagement, Si Se Puede and Academic Curricula for Excellence (ACE) Curriculum, and EXITO! Each program is designed to engage parents and school children in the local community through their first year in the university. Among first-year college students, ENLACE has a retention rate of 100%. According to Bordes and Arredondo (2005), campus initiatives such as ENLACE are invaluable because they play a significant role in addressing the cultural and linguistic needs of Latino youth before and after they arrive to the university. In this way, they directly speak to issues of persistence, diversity and retention that confront students and universities alike.

As the ethnic and racial composition of students continues to shift, we must remember the importance that HSIs play in responding to issues of diversity in the teaching profession. As we continue to elevate the profile of HSIs’ contributions to teacher education, we are reminded of a lingering question: How are teacher education programs reflecting the diversity of the student population? In our research at the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions, we evidence how institutions, such as HSIs, must continue to play a central role in the education of future teachers of color in order to create favorable educational leaders supporting aspirational Latino youth.


Bordes, V. & Arredondo, P. (2005). Mentoring and 1st-Year Latina/o College Students, Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 4 (2), 114-133.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2013). Degrees conferred at Hispanic Serving Institutions. Washington, DC: Author.

Núñez, A-M., Sparks, J., & Hernández, E. (2011). Latino Access to community colleges and Hispanic-Serving Institutions: A national study. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 10 (1), 18-40.

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