DENVER — Metro State University of Denver has earned the federal designation of Hispanic-Serving Institution or (HSI), by serving about 6,000 Latino students — more than any other higher education institution in the state.
The school said the new status makes them eligible for about $40 million in grant opportunities designed to promote access and increase graduation rates.
“HSIs are higher ed institutions that have a high Hispanic enrollment,” said MSU Denver Special Assistant to the President for HSI Angela Marquez. “They’re located usually in geographic areas that have a high population of Hispanic growth.”
The school said in 2007, President Emeritus Stephen Jordan started MSU Denver’s HSI obtainment efforts by forming a task force to boost the recruitment and retention of Latino students.
In 2008, Colorado's population was 20 percent Latino, while the university’s student body was only 13 percent.
“It just made sense looking at the population trends and also K-12 population to realize that we need to be accessible to the Hispanic population,” Marquez said. “They really wanted to up our recruitment and up those numbers up so we could accurately reflect the population of Colorado.”
In 10 years, the population of Latino students at MSU Denver nearly doubled -- from 2,877 in 2008 to 5,439 in 2017, which is about 25 percent of their total student population and the threshold required for HSI status.
The university has been waiting for the completion of federal processing.
“It says something,” Marquez said. “It says that we’re here to educate the students of Colorado (and) we’re also here seeking out specific opportunities to better retain and also support students to degree completion.”
The designation is given by the U.S. Department of Education where they manage three HSI grant programs:
Each program is created to expand the educational opportunities for Hispanic Americans and other underrepresented populations.
“I’m originally from Nebraska so coming to such a Latino centered city, it was kind of an eye opener,” said MSU Denver sophomore David Bonilla. “Being first generation, it lets me know that there’s an opportunity out there for me to make a name for myself and give me the motivation to keep on pushing to reach to that my father had when he first came to the United States.”