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MSU Denver retains Hispanic-Serving Institution designation

The Early Bird spoke with Manny Del Real, Ph.D., to learn more about the HSI process and how the recognition has impacted MSU Denver.

By Lindsey Coulter

March 15, 2021

Manny Del Real, Ph.D.Metropolitan State University of Denver’s request for Hispanic-Serving Institution designation has once again been approved.

The University will retain its HSI status, allowing the institution to pursue a variety of grants under Titles III and V programs, including Title V - Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Title III - Part F - Hispanic-Serving Institutions STEM and Articulation, and Title V - Promoting Postbaccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans. The designation also makes the University eligible for a waiver of the nonfederal share-matching requirements under the Federal Work Study Program, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program and the TRIO Student Support Services Program under Title IV of the Higher Education Act.

Manny Del Real, Ph.D., executive director of HSI Initiatives and Inclusion, joined the University in 2020, accepting a position that was created to ensure that MSU Denver sustains designation, among other roles. The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council HSI Committee, which he co-leads with Ally Garcia, Ph.D., assistant dean/director, TRIO SSS, focuses on the following objectives:

  • Stay current with and examine issues, trends and advocacy pertaining to HSI initiatives, programs and services.
  • Gain awareness around laws, regulations and policies that have potential impact on HSI funding and designation.
  • Strengthen process and criteria for the identification and prioritization of HSI grants.
  • Research and benchmark HSI effective and impactful practices for consideration.

The Early Bird spoke with Del Real to learn more about the designation process and how the recognition has impacted MSU Denver.

Early Bird: How has achieving HSI designation benefited the University and our students?

Del Real: Achieving HSI designation highlights a 12-year initiative that came to fruition in spring 2019. As a result of federal designation, MSU Denver is eligible to competitively apply for federal grants aimed at supporting our students and the University. For example, the Department of Nutrition was awarded a $2 million Post-baccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The primary objective of that grant is to increase the number and success of students who come from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds to enroll and succeed in the post-baccalaureate dietetics degree program.

Last June, MSU Denver also received approximately $1,065,000 from the HSI/MSI CARES Act as a Covid-19 grant. These funds have been used to support student online tutoring, students’ classroom support with teaching and learning assistants, the Transfer Peer Mentoring Program and faculty participation in an academic-year course provided by the Association of College and University Educators to explore a wide range of teaching issues, tools and ideas, including inclusive pedagogy in a remote teaching environment.

Early Bird: How has MSU Denver’s Hispanic-student enrollment changed since we first earned designation? Has this designation impacted student diversity?

Del Real: Since designation, MSU Denver’s Hispanic/Latina/o/x student enrollment has continued to increase. In fall 2020, MSU Denver served 5,843 Hispanic/Latina/o/x undergraduate and graduate students (31% of the student population), more than any other college or university in Colorado.

I would agree that this designation has had an impact on diversity. In fall 2020, MSU Denver’s student population included 8,591 undergraduate students of color (48.4% of the total student population). Retaining this designation is also critical to achieving one of the goals under the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion pillar of the University’s 2030 Strategic Plan: to become a model Hispanic-Serving Institution for higher education.

Early Bird: What is involved in maintaining/retaining HSI designation?

Del Real: Every year in early winter, Michael Benitez, Ph.D., vice president for Diversity and Inclusion, and I determine through the federal Grant Eligibility Application if MSU Denver is eligible to apply for a new Title III or Title V grant in the next fiscal year. An institution is determined eligible in one of three ways: via pre-eligibility based on National Center of Education Statistics data, Application or Exemption Request.

An institution is determined to be pre-eligible if its Pell Grant recipients and core expenses are equal to or above the current year’s threshold. Due to reporting timeline constraints, the most recent data extract is always two years old, so this year’s application was based on 2018-19. Since MSU Denver met the pre-eligibility requirements, we were determined eligible, and no further action was necessary.

In the event that MSU Denver did not meet the pre-eligibility requirements, we were prepared to fill out the application that allows us to provide additional and/or updated information that may cause our numbers to meet threshold requirements and therefore be determined eligible. We’d like to give a special thanks to Elizabeth Jinks, director, Office of Sponsored Research and Programs; Ellen Boswell, director, Institutional Research; Michelle LeBoo, associate director, Financial Aid – Reporting and Communications; Liza Larsen, controller; and Sean Petranovich, Ph.D., director of Data and Analytics, for collecting the 2018-19 data that is required for the application.

Topics: Academics, Diversity, Excellence, Funding, Grant, Hispanic Serving Institution, Inclusion

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