AIC as an Emerging Hispanic Serving Institution

Crowd gathered to celebrate Hispanics day

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AIC is committed to meeting the needs of its diverse student body, which includes a significant and expanding proportion of Hispanic and Latina/o/x students. In line with this commitment, the College is actively working towards obtaining a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) designation, which reflects its dedication to supporting communities that have been traditionally underserved. In seeking HSI status, AIC is driven by several goals: improving student enrollment and retention rates, enhancing the overall value of an AIC education, and ultimately serving the community more effectively. This designation will empower AIC to equip students with the essential skills needed for success in the global job market.

What is a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI)?

The term “Hispanic-Serving Institution” (HSI) is a federal designation defined in Title V of the Higher Education Act. The designation applies to accredited, non-profit institutions of higher education with a full-time undergraduate student population that is at least 25% Hispanic or Latina/o/x. To be designated an HSI, an eligible institution must also enroll a significant number of low-income students.

As of the 2021-2022 academic year, 572 institutions of higher education in the United States (including Puerto Rico) have been designated as HSIs by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU).

What is an emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution (eHSI)?

An “emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution” (eHSI) is an accredited, non-profit institution of higher education with a full-time undergraduate student population that is 15-24.9% Hispanic or Latina/o/x. The term is used to denote institutions that are on the path to achieving the HSI designation.

As of the 2021-2022 academic year, 400 institutions in the United States, were classified as eHSIs by HACU. AIC is among these institutions.

What are the benefits of achieving the HSI designation?

Obtaining the HSI designation will make AIC eligible to apply for additional federal grant funding under Title V. If awarded, the funding will assist AIC in strengthening programs, facilities, and services in ways that expand opportunities for Hispanic, Latina/o/x, and other underserved student populations. This aligns with AIC’s strategic goal of creating a transformational community that embraces diversity and fosters a sense of belonging for students of all backgrounds.

Why is the HSI designation important to AIC?

AIC is geographically located in an area with particularly large Hispanic and Latina/o/x populations. According to the most recent census, approximately 47% of Springfield residents identify as Hispanic or Latina/o/x, and this number is increasing. In fact, between 2010 and 2020, Springfield’s Hispanic and Latina/o/x populations collectively increased by approximately 8 percentage points. Similar trends have been documented in other cities and towns that AIC serves, such as Holyoke, Brockton, Hartford, and New Britain.

AIC enrolls a significant and growing percentage of Hispanic and Latina/o/x students (22.7% as of the 2021-2022 academic year). Given the high percentage of Hispanic and Latina/o/x students that AIC serves, the College is developing strategies to address and honor their needs, challenges, assets, and achievements . Obtaining the HSI designation supports these efforts.

Achieving this designation not only makes AIC eligible for increased funding, but also challenges AIC to be more intentional, creative, and holistic in its approach towards supporting Hispanic, Latina/o/x, and other historically underserved groups.

What are the benefits of becoming an HSI for students of other backgrounds?

While HSI status is based on AIC’s Hispanic and Latina/o/x enrollment, the benefits of achieving the HSI designation will extend to students of all demographic backgrounds. While a portion of any federal funding awarded may be used for initiatives that specifically serve Hispanic and Latina/o/x students, AIC recognizes that improving these students’ experiences also requires improvements to our campus as a whole. For this reason, initiatives will strengthen programs, facilities, and services that touch the lives of all students on campus.

Of importance, the process of achieving HSI status will challenge AIC to examine existing practices and develop new and more effective strategies for inclusion. The inclusive strategies that emerge from the HSI process will be used not only to improve the experiences and educational attainment of Hispanic and Latina/o/x students but will also serve as a blueprint for better serving other historically underserved populations. Pursuing HSI designation will therefore improve AIC’s overall diversity and inclusion competency in ways that benefit all members of the AIC community.

While obtaining the HSI designation requires AIC to recruit and enroll more Hispanic and Latina/o/x students, the College remains committed to recruiting and enrolling students of all demographic backgrounds in order to maintain the diverse environment that makes AIC so unique.

Why is AIC seeking HSI status now?

AIC has been classified by HACU as an emerging HSI since 2015. Since that time, AIC’s Hispanic and Latina/o/x enrollment—like that of American postsecondary institutions generally—has grown. This continuing demographic shift calls for higher education institutions to increase their focus on how to best serve Hispanic and Latina/o/x students. For this reason, AIC formed an HSI Committee to explore the possibility of pursuing HSI status and consider the ways that AIC can strengthen its commitment to Hispanic and Latina/o/x students. The College’s current efforts to become an HSI are the culmination of this groundwork, and are consistent with the goalsof the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging.

How close is AIC to becoming an HSI?

According to the list of emerging HSIs published by HACU in 2023, as of the 2021-2022 academic year, 22.7% of AIC’s full-time undergraduate student body identified as Hispanic or Latina/o/x. As of the spring 2023 semester, AIC estimates that the percentage of Hispanic and Latina/o/x full-time undergraduate students is 23.6%. This means that AIC must increase its Hispanic and Latina/o/x enrollment by less than 2 percentage points to  be designated an HSI.

What does AIC plan to do to increase the number of Hispanic, Latina/o/x and other underrepresented students who enroll and complete their degree at AIC and achieve the HSI designation?

  • Strengthen and enhance current offerings and services in ways that promote the academic success and socioemotional wellness of AIC’s students;
  • Create a more positive, inclusive, and identity-safe climate through programs that improve underserved students’ sense of belonging; and
  • Explore evidence-based professional development opportunities for faculty and staff that are inclusive with regard to race, ethnicity, culture, language, and other dimensions of human identity.

For questions related to eHSI designation, please contact:

Carmaris Denson

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