Pursing Excellence: CSU’s Mission to Become a Hispanic-Serving Institution

In CSU’s Effort to Serve Hispanic/Latiné Students, the University Must Center Faculty Success

Colorado has the 8th largest Hispanic/Latiné population in the United States and is currently 22.5% Hispanic/Latiné. Since 2000, the Hispanic/Latiné population has grown 72%. The median age of Hispanic/Latiné Coloradans is 29 years old, compared to 41 for White non-Hispanics, accounting for a substantial portion of Colorado’s young people. Additionally, 31% of the school-aged population in Colorado is Hispanic/Latiné, and 20% of Hispanics/Latinés are 10 or under. Truly, the future of Colorado is one that increasingly centers on young Hispanic/Latiné individuals!

Colorado State University has not kept pace with the growing diversity of the state or the nation. In fact, CSU was more representative of the state of Colorado in 1990 than in 2024 (see Table 1 below)! There are national implications for the gap in Hispanic/Latiné degree attainment as well. For the United States to regain the top ranking in the world for college degree attainment, Hispanics/Latinés will need to earn 6.2 million degrees by 2030.

Hispanic Serving Institutions: Meeting the Needs of Hispanic/Latiné Students

Maintaining the normative university standards that systemically inhibit the progress of a diverse and intersectional Hispanic/Latiné students no longer serve the progress of post-secondary institutions in the U.S., including CSU. Striving to become a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) will redefine what it means to serve minoritized students. A collective of activist scholars engaging critical HSI work have defined servingess as “understanding and enacting an anti-racism approach towards cultivating a campus culture and climate which affirms and validates minoritized students to create a sense of belonging and community through culturally enhancing, equitable approaches that offer transformative experiences leading to both academic and non-academic outcomes. Servingness must also integrate notions of whiteness, coloniality, and anti-blackness in our practice, teaching, and research” (used with permission from one of the scholars, Susana Muñoz, 2022).

Racialized minoritized institutions, such as HSIs, that are committed to increasing access to students of color, simultaneously improve commonly measured student success outcomes. While the racialization of post-secondary institutions has historically erased the rich diversity within minoritized populations, Hispanic/Latiné students represent a wide and complex range of social and ethnic backgrounds that intersect with multiple identities, such as gender, sexuality, immigration status, first-generation status, age, socioeconomic status, religion, and physical/mental abilities. Successfully enrolling and graduating Hispanic/Latiné students while enacting a culture that enhances their education and experience will not only attract Colorado’s largest growing student body to CSU, but it will also position us as a leading land-grant institution of our nation. Moreover, HSIs generally enroll a larger percentage of Black and other non-Black students of color, low-income students, and first-generation students.

The Role of Faculty in HSI Servingness

In Garcia’s framework for understanding servingness in HSIs, compositional diversity and culturally relevant curriculum are centered. This means faculty success must also be centered. Student success and faculty success cannot be divorced. In fact, research shows that students spend more hours per semester with faculty than any other members of the student success ecosystem. All students, and especially students from minoritized backgrounds, benefit from a diverse faculty. In fact, evidence indicates that undergraduate student persistence and graduate rates improve when they have opportunities to engage with diverse faculty. As such, efforts to become an HSI cannot be divorced from faculty success! In an effective strategy, efforts to serve Hispanic/Latiné must be reinforced with efforts to recruit, retain, and support faculty across the university. Only when we invest in our students and faculty can CSU succeed at becoming a Hispanic serving institution.


Author Information: This blog post was authored by Shannon Archibeque-Engle. Shannon is the Associate Vice President for Inclusive Excellence and a member of the Faculty Success team.