Hispanic Serving Institute Initiative

What is “HSI”?

The term “Hispanic-Serving Institution” (HSI) is a federal designation defined by the Higher Education Act. It requires that institutions be 2- or 4-year accredited colleges, enroll a significant proportion of low-income students, and have 25% of their full-time undergraduate student body be Hispanic. Once an institution achieves HSI status, they are eligible to apply for federal Title III and V funds.

There are more than 500 HSI-eligible institutions in the U.S., but only 12 are also a Tier One Research institution. While they comprise only a small percentage of all institutions of higher education, HSIs enroll about 2/3 of all Hispanic undergraduates in the country. At UNT, 25.7% of the student’s population is Latinx, comprising the largest group of diverse students, followed by 14% African-American, followed by 7% Asian-Pacific Islander and 4% Native America. Of the Hispanic population, 37% of the is Pell eligible, a key requirement to become an HSI-eligible institution.

Why is the HSI designation important to UNT?

As a caring and creative community that prepares students for careers in a rapidly changing world, UNT is committed to serving underrepresented and underserved communities. As a university located in the increasingly diverse region of North Texas, we believe its critically important to expand its resources to serve as a welcoming institution for everyone, and especially for this targeted population who is become a larger part of our student body.

What benefits come with becoming an HSI and diversifying our campus in other ways?

One of UNT’s on-going goals is creating an equitable, diverse and inclusive campus community. Our work to achieve this goal has not gone unnoticed, For the second year in a row, Insight Into Diversity magazine recognized the University of North Texas with the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award.

Achieving our goal of being HSI eligible in the Spring of 2020, means that we are eligible to apply for Title III and VI federal funds to support student success, research and outreach. Although increased federal funding is not the reason, we decided to pursue this goal, these funds are aligned with our efforts to provide additional support and expanded resources to our students, as well as, fuel additional research that helps distinguish this university as one of the best in the country.

Why are we focusing on HSI now?

There are some fundamental changes in the nation’s demography that is creating a perfect opportunity for us to focus on becoming an HSI now.  According to The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, the overall high school student graduates will remain stable of the next decade, but there will be significant increases in the number of Hispanic (by 50%) and Asian/Pacific Islander (by 30%) students.

As you can tell from our Office of Institutional Equity and DiversityAnnual Report, UNT is experiencing continued growth in diverse student enrollments, which is a trend we anticipate continuing to see over the next 30 years.

What is the HSI Initiative?

UNT has formed an HSI Initiative Task Force to develop and guide our efforts.

The UNT HSI Task Force is charged with providing advice and oversight as the institution leverages its HSI status to support and expand initiatives targeted to aid Hispanic students in successfully enrolling in, matriculating, and graduating from the university.  The work of the group will help to develop a holistic approach to serving Hispanic students within the institution.

The UNT Task Force will:

  • Gain a better understanding of UNT’s Hispanic student population by reviewing relevant data, e.g., disaggregated data on Hispanic student enrollment, persistence and graduation; climate survey data; National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), etc.
  • Review initiatives in the UNT Strategic Plan, 2020-2025 that directly focus on improving the educational experience of Hispanic students
  • Identify the needs of Hispanic students by hearing directly from the students
  • Identify best practices and suggest strategies to strengthen developmental education, cohort support programs, and academic advising for Hispanic students 
  • Explore ways to engage faculty in formulating and participating in changes in institutional practice to serve Hispanic and other students
  • Determine if UNT has sufficient resources to address the needs of Hispanic students
  • Identify ways to increase the collaboration with, and facilitate transfers from, community colleges since many Hispanic students begin their education at these institutions
  • Identify possible grant funding opportunities to assist UNT in expanding educational opportunities for, and improve the attainment of, Hispanic students
  • Develop a plan to publicize UNT’s HSI status thereby enhancing the university’s attractiveness to prospective students, faculty and staff
  • Share data on Hispanic students with faculty, staff, and students at least once a year so that they know how students are performing and can become more engaged in institutional efforts

Who is serving on the HSI Initiative Task Force?

The following individuals have been invited to serve on the HSI Initiative Task Force and will begin their work in August, 2020.

  • Leticia Anaya, Senior Lecturer, Engineering Technology
  • Jennifer Cowley, Provost & Vice President of Academic Affairs (co-chair)
  • Alexis Hawkins, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Student Government
  • Erika Woodruff, Ventanilla de Orientación Educativa Officer, Division of Enrollment
  • Candi Harris, Senior Student Success Coordinator, Strategic Retention Initiatives
  • Samuel Manickam, Chair, Department of Spanish
  • Valerie Martinez Ebers, Professor, Department of Political Science
  • Melissa McGuire, Associate Vice President, Student Affairs
  • Tomás Sanchez, Associate Director of Residence Life
  • Shabaz Brown, Interim Director, Multicultural Center
  • Naomi Wood, Assistant Director, Research Development, Research and Innovation
  • Randena Hulstrand, Senior Associate Director of Communications and Publications
  • Joanne Woodard, Vice President of Institutional Equity & Diversity (co-chair)
  • Bob Garza, UNT Alumni
  • Marcos Villarreal, Student Services Coordinator, Multicultural Center

UNT HSI Task Force Charge

The UNT HSI Task Force is charged with providing advice and oversight as the institution leverages its HSI status to support and expand initiatives targeted to aid Hispanic students in successfully enrolling in, matriculating, and graduating from the university.  The work of the group will help to develop a holistic approach to serving Hispanic students within the institution.

The UNT Task Force will:

  • Gain a better understanding of UNT’s Hispanic student population by reviewing relevant data, e.g., disaggregated data on Hispanic student enrollment, persistence, and graduation; climate survey data; National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), etc.
  • Review initiatives in the UNT Strategic Plan, 2020-2025 that directly focus on improving the educational experience of Hispanic students
  • Identify the needs of Hispanic students by hearing directly from the students
  • Identify best practices and suggest strategies to strengthen developmental education, cohort support programs, and academic advising for Hispanic students 
  • Explore ways to engage faculty in formulating and participating in changes in institutional practice to serve Hispanic and other students
  • Determine if UNT has sufficient resources to address the needs of Hispanic students
  • Identify ways to increase the collaboration with, and facilitate transfers from, community colleges since many Hispanic students begin their education at these institutions
  • Identify possible grant funding opportunities to assist UNT in expanding educational opportunities for, and improve the attainment of, Hispanic students
  • Develop a plan to publicize UNT’s HSI status thereby enhancing the university’s attractiveness to prospective students, faculty and staff
  • Share data on Hispanic students with faculty, staff, and students at least once a year so that they know how students are performing and can become more engaged in institutional efforts

Do UNT’s efforts to recruit Hispanic students come at the expense of recruiting students from other backgrounds?

No. UNT is equally committed to recruiting students from all backgrounds, and has also stated a goal of increasing student enrollment and retention of all of our students. We hope that some of the recruitment and retention strategies we employ for Hispanic/Latinx students will help us yield and support more students from other underrepresented groups as well.

How does UNT support our Hispanic students?

UNT already has committed to a wide range of programs within the university and within the community to create a caring and welcoming environment for these.

Here’s a selected list of some of the programs:

  • Pre-College Programs
    • Trio-Talent Search:  Increase the number of college graduates in the Cooke and Denton counties by assisting with academic enrichment, college enrollment, and the financial aid process.
    • TRIO Upward Bound: Increase the rate at which pre-college participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education.
  • College Programs
    • McNair Scholars: A program to prepare juniors and seniors from low income, first generation and/or underrepresented to pursue doctoral degrees.
    • Student Support Services: Federally funded TRIO program designed to increase retention and graduation rates of current UNT students who are low-income, first-generation, and/or students with documented disabilities.
  • New and Current students
    • E-Start: This is a 5-week summer residential program that offers newly admitted first year students an opportunity to build community, become acquainted with campus, and earn up to six (6) hours of graded credit before the Fall semester begins.
  • Campus and Community Activities and Associations

    Full list of Campus and Community Activities and Associations
    • Association of Latino Professionals For America
    • Folklórico de North Texas
    • Hispanic Student Association
    • Latin Dreams
    • Mueve
    • National Association of Hispanic Journalists
    • National Association of Hispanic Professional Engineers
    • Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Sciences (UNT SACNAS)
    • UNeTe, (Latin faculty/staff alliance)
  • Fraternities/Sororities
    • Omega Delta Phi Fraternity, Inc. (ODPhi)
    • Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc. (LTA
    • Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Inc. (KDChi)
    • Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc. (Gammas)

Go to UNT’s Division of Institutional Equity and Diversity to learn more about our other initiatives.

Commitments for advancing UNT as an HSI

In the summer of 2020, President Smatresk committed to the Moving Forward Together plan, which advances UNT as an inclusive campus. Below are specific examples of the investments that UNT is making in advancing our university as an inclusive HSI.

  • A new student services coordinator position in the Multicultural Center is being hired and will focus on supporting DACA/Dreamer affiliated students.
  • The recent hire (November 2019) of Cesar Quizada in the Multicultural Center will enhance the units efforts to serve Hispanic/Latino students, including providing oversight for the Latin Dreams living-learning community in the Crumbley residence hall. Students will be participating in Dr. Valerie Martinez-Ebers Latinos in Politics course.
  • CARES funding has been committed to supporting UNT as an HSI. This includes financial support for Latin Dreams. Latin Dreams participants will receive micro grants (up to $1000 per academic year) for competition of student success activities at UNT. Funding support for the Division of Institutional Equity & Diversity to support recruitment and retention of minority male students. 
  • CARES Act funding will support pre-college visits for Calhoun Middle School 8th grade students and participants of Latinas in Progress during the 2020-21 academic year.  Denton ISD’s Calhoun Middle School has a high percentage of Hispanic and Black students.  For Fall 2021, a $2500 scholarship will be available for a Latinas in Progress participant who has been accepted and enrolls at UNT.
  • The Latino Advisory Committee has been meeting over the past two years and is forming a Latino Alumni Network.  This is a joint effort with the Division of Institutional Equity & Diversity, the Division of Advancement and UNT Alumnus Bob Garza. The Latino Advisory Network will be officially launched in the near future. 
  • Damian Torres, director of the UNT Multicultural Center, has been appointed to serve on the board of the Texas Men of Color Consortium. 
  • All incoming students participate in a diversity and inclusion curriculum as part of new student orientation, beginning in the Summer of 2020.
  • All faculty and academic staff will be participating in a new professional development program focused on diversity and inclusion, beginning in the Fall of 2020.
  • Faculty Search Committee training is required of all search committee members, beginning in the Fall of 2020.