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.

  • Michael McPherson, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
  • Bob Garza, UNT Alumnus
  • Candi Harris, Senior Student Success Coordinator, Strategic Retention Initiatives
  • Alexis Hawkins, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Student Government
  • Randena Hulstrand, Senior Associate Director of Communications and Publications
  • 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
  • Karen Toussaint, Assistant Professor, Behavior Analysis, Academic Affairs Fellow
  • Marcos Villarreal, Latinx Student Services Coordinator, Multicultural Center
  • Naomi Wood, Assistant Director, Research Development, Research and Innovation
  • Joanne Woodard, Vice President of Institutional Equity & Diversity (co-chair)
  • Erika Woodruff, Ventanilla de Orientación Educativa Officer, Division of Enrollment

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.

  • Planning is underway for a new multicultural center to be constructed near the university union that will support our student body.
  • Damian Torres, director of the UNT Multicultural Center, has been appointed to serve on the board of the Texas Men of Color Consortium.
  • Marcos Villarreal, new student services coordinator in the Multicultural Center was hired in December 2020 and he has made a significant impact on the services provided for Hispanic students at UNT. He is also the coordinator of the new Eagle Dreamers Resource Center. Nearly twenty years in the making, a ‘soft opening’ of the new resource center was held on November 4, 2021. The new resource center will expand resources, programming, collaboration, safe spaces, and training for the UNT community in all aspects of DACA and undocumented status.
  • UNT is an institutional member of both TACHE and HACU.  Institutional membership in these organizations provides UNT students, staff and faculty with access to conferences, workshops, scholarships and other resources. 
  • Cesar Quezda, assistant director of UNT’s Multicultural Center, serves as president of Membership for the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education or TACHE.  Since 1974, this professional association has been committed to the improvement of educational and employment opportunities for Chicanos in higher education and support its membership by providing resources, cariño, and respite.  TACHE’s purpose to provide state, regional, and local forums for the discussion of issues related to Chicanos in higher education and to collaborate with institutions of higher learning to create workable solutions for these issues.  TACHE’s goals are to (1) articulate educational problems, needs, and issues related to Chicanos in higher education; (2) to engage actively in building networks with local, state, and national organizations for the purpose of securing changes in laws and policies detrimental to TACHE’s constituencies; (3) to assist in establishing effective institutional programs and communications to recruit and retain Chicano students, faculty, and administrators in higher education; and (4) to assist in the promotion of the history and culture of Chicanos for educational and public information purposes.
  • The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) represents more than 500 colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher education success in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Latin America, Spain and U.S. school districts.  HACU member institutions represent 17% of all higher education institutions nationwide and are home to two-thirds of all Hispanic college students.  HACU is the only national educational association that represents Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs).  HACU’s conferences and special events each year provide a vital platform for advocacy, information, collaboration, and recognition. These events include the National Capitol Forum on Hispanic Higher Education each spring in Washington, D.C., and HACU’s Annual Conference. Student participation has been an important new dimension in recent years. HACU also hosts a biennial International Conference. Thousands of students benefit from HACU's internships, scholarships, college retention and advancement programs, pre-collegiate support, and career development opportunities and programs.
  • In its second year at the university, Latin Dreams is a residential community that assists in fostering an empowered community that contributes to the successful education, retention, identity development, and the leadership potential of our Latino men at the University of North Texas. This unique residential environment combines curricular and co-curricular activities is designed to enhance each student’s overall college experience. Men will be able to identify and explore what it truly means to be living as a Latino in current America. With the guidance of a mentor, the staff in the Multicultural Center, and the faculty in the Latino/a and Mexican American Studies they will develop their knowledge of Latin Americans in the United States and across the diasporas. With these tools they will be able to create connections with university staff and faculty and explore their leadership capabilities through social and cultural organizations. Students in the Latin Dreams community will also be introduced to a variety of cultural focused programs, community service opportunities, and staff and faculty members that will help connect them and support their growth during their time at UNT. During the 2020-21 academic year, CARES funding provided to UNT as an HSI, included financial support for Latin Dreams. The inaugural cohort of Latin Dreams received $1000 in micro grants for completition of student success activities at UNT.
  • Latinas in Progress is a pre-college program sponsored by the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas (HWNT), which is a non-profit state-wide organization established in 1986. HWNT’s purpose is to "promote the advancement of women in public, corporate and civic life through education, personal and professional development." LIP collaborates with universities and colleges across Texas to prepare program participants who are graduating high school seniors towards achieving their dreams of a college degree. UNT’s Division of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Access (IDEA) and the Division of Enrollment partner with HWNT to host Latinas in Progress when participants tour the UNT campus as a part of their visits to colleges in the DFW Metroplex. IDEA provided six $2500 scholarships for LIP participants who had been admitted to UNT and enrolled in the institution in fall 2021. 
  • The Latino Advisory Committee has been meeting over the past two years and is a joint effort with the Division of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Access, the Division of Advancement and UNT Alumnus Bob Garza. In January 2021, the UNT Alumni Association Board of Directors approved the Latino Alumni Network as a constituent group of the UNT Alumni Association. Creation of this new alumni affinity group was a joint effort of the Division of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Access (IDEA), the Division of Advancement and UNT Alumnus Bob Garza. The newly launched Latino Advisory Network is actively seeking new members.
  • The Inclusive Curriculum process has launched with each academic program reflecting on the ways in which we can create classrooms, classes and curriculum that reflects the ‘serving’ part of our mission as an HSI/MSI.
  • All incoming students participate in a diversity and inclusion curriculum as part of new student orientation, which began in the Summer of 2020.
  • The Anti-Bias and Cultural Awareness program launched in Fall of 2020. This mandatory professional development program is offering a range of programming.
  • Faculty Search Committee training began being required of all search committee members, effective Fall of 2020.
  • The Latinx Student Experience (LSE) workshop was held in September 2021.  Created in response to UNT’s rapidly growing Latinx/Hispanic population, the goal of LSE’s is to develop and foster success, pride, joy, culture, and leadership among first year Latinx/Hispanic students. The LSE weekend retreat allowed incoming freshman and transfer students to meet our Latinx student leaders and create a bond with their peers. LSE student participants were afforded an opportunity to reflect on their journey to UNT and what they want to achieve while matriculating at the university.  The LSE retreat is an opportunity for students to discover potential involvement opportunities on campus, become acquainted with Latinx/Hispanic faculty, staff, and alumni, and start building their college experience at UNT. After the retreat, it is anticipated that participants will leave with a better knowledge of the resources offered to them during their time at UNT, tools for success in their courses, co-curricular connections, all while having a support system, mentorship opportunities, and a second family away from home.
  • UNT and the Consul of Mexico in Dallas are partners in Ventanilla de Orientación Educativa, Erika Woodruff, associate director of Outreach in the UNT Division of Enrollment is the key contact for this effort to enhance recruit and retention of Hispanic students at UNT.  In August 2021, UNT opened a Community GO Center at the Consulate of Mexico. GO Centers are a resource that aids in how students can prepare for college. The GO Center staffs three UNT student employees through the G-Force Mentorship Program, who assist Ms. Woodruff in helping visitors to the Consulate navigate the higher education enrollment process.
  • In October 2021, the Outreach unit in the Division of Enrollment hosted a Spanish Language Parents' Academy (in person) at UNT Hall Park Campus in collaboration with Frisco ISD. While the program had been managed virtually, this was the first time the event was held in person. Over 30 parents visited the possibility to receive more information about financial and UNT resources. Representative of the Consul of Mexico attended the event and lauded UNT’s efforts to serve Hispanic families.