10:52 AM

What Is Hispanic-Servingness, Anyway?

Fall 2022 President’s Distinguished Lecture Series Opens With ‘Hispanic-Serving Institutions Past, Present, & Future’


By Marie Jacinto

Presenter Dr. Anne-Marie Núñez put that question to the test during the first lecture of the Fall 2022 President’s Distinguished Lecture Series on Sept. 19, entitled “Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) Past, Present, & Future,” as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Núñez, Executive Director, Diana Natalicio Institute for Hispanic Student Success, The University of Texas at El Paso, was joined by Dr. Patrick L. Valdez, Former Chancellor and Professor of Education, The University of New Mexico–Taos, for the presentation. In introducing the two luminaries in the area of Hispanic student success, President Blanchard stressed the importance of this topic for UHD, which is an HSI with a student body that is 53% Hispanic. Dr. Daniel Villanueva, Vice President of Enrollment Management, acted as emcee for the event.

Valdez spoke on the history of Hispanic-Serving Institution policy formation, noting that the Higher Education Act of 1965 was created to open the halls of higher education to a diverse set of students who had been historically underrepresented at postsecondary institutions. With a number of trailblazers leading the way over the years, it was not until 1992 that the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) served as a leader in the effort to persuade Congress to formally recognize HSIs and target federal appropriations to these institutions. Created in 1986, HACU is the membership association for HSIs.

Núñez defined “Hispanic-Servingness” as an organizational identity that not only promotes Hispanic student’s outcomes but does so in ways that affirm and support Hispanic students’ cultural and familial backgrounds. Student success must go beyond individual responsibility to focus on organizations and systems of higher education. She suggested that multidimensional student success could be fostered through these means:

  • Academic (curriculum, collaborative learning, peer tutoring, research experiences)
  • Financial (scholarships, internships, on-campus jobs)
  • Social (relational pedagogy, validation, confianza)
  • Cultural
  • Career (professional clubs, internships, conferences)

Núñez and Valdez agreed that student success for HSIs varies from institution to institution because of cultural diversity within the Hispanic community, and ultimately, success boils down to each institution understanding and truly serving its students.

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.