Becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution

In April 2007, Metropolitan State University of Denver launched the bold goal of achieving the federal designation of Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), increasing its Latino student enrollment from 13 percent to 25 percent.

The University is quickly making progress toward this goal; by fall 2012, Latino student enrollment hit 19.5 percent headcount, or 4,475 out of MSU Denver's nearly 23,000 students. Ahead of projections, MSU Denver has reached 18.1 percent full-time equivalent (FTE) Latino enrollment toward achieving the 25 percent necessary to earn HSI status.

Because one-in-five Coloradans is Latino and they are the fastest-growing segment of the state's population, it is imperative to increase the educational attainment of Latinos and all Coloradans for Colorado to remain economically and culturally vibrant.

With the largest resident undergraduate student population in Colorado and the highest number of students of color, MSU Denver already enrolls a quarter of the state's baccalaureate-seeking Latino students. If enrollment of Latinos continues to grow at its current rate, the University will achieve HSI status within the next decade. The HSI designation brings benefits to all students and all faculty, with funding available for projects that range from student support programs to classroom technology.

MSU Denver Office of the President appointed the Hispanic Serving Institution Task Force in July 2007 with the explicit goal of determining a recommended path to HSI status. The HSI task force issued its final recommendations in February 2008.

Since 2008, the University has been working to implement the HSI recommendations. New initiatives — including a Latino-specific student recruitment effort, a program to prepare more Latinos to become teachers, a grant to improve the nutrition of Latinos, and the addition of master’s programs to the University’s academic offerings — and newly reinvigorated programs, such as Journey Through Our Heritage and the Excel Program, are examples.

These efforts, among others, have led the University to a key interim step toward its HSI goal: In 2010, MSU Denver was named one of four “emerging HSIs” in the country (among 176 emerging HSIs) by the Washington, D.C.-based educational think tank Excelencia in Education for its successful efforts to effectively serve its Latino students.