The virtual “California Briefing on 25 Years of HSIs in Accelerating Latinx Student Success” on March 2 highlighted how Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) have impacted the success of Latinx students in California and across the nation, particularly through increased graduation rates.
A collaboration between Excelencia in Education, California State University, California Community Colleges and California State University, Northridge, the briefing included CSUN President Erika D. Beck, who urged stakeholders to support Latinx students, who comprise 50.2 percent of CSUN’s student population.
“The imperative for our work is underscored by this particular moment in time, as we navigate multiple intersecting crises that have highlighted the historic and persistent inequities in our communities of color across multiple dimensions, including higher education,” she said.
CSUN is No. 4 on Excelencia’s list of the Top 5 Institutions Awarding Bachelor’s Degrees to Hispanics in the United States. Beck was unequivocal about the need to remove any and all barriers students may face during their academic journey.
“We know that administrative barriers to student success are real, and students have no agency to remove them,” Beck said. “When we can illuminate those barriers, we can remove them and, when we are intentional in our efforts and measure impact, we can scale what works and sunset what does not.”
Deborah Santiago, CEO and co-founder of Excelencia, provided context about HSIs and shared interpretations of the data that Excelencia has gathered over the past 25 years. Santiago said, Excelencia’s research found that:
- The number of HSIs in California has increased by 300% in the past quarter-century.
- 90% of degrees earned by Latino students in California are completed at HSIs.
- HSIs account for nearly 50% of California’s total higher education institutions but enroll nearly 90% of Latino undergraduates.
After sharing data and examples from the California research, Santiago introduced California State University Chancellor Joseph I. Castro and asked what action he would recommend to new U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona — recently appointed by the Biden administration — to work toward equity.
“The No. 1 thing on my list is getting the DREAM Act passed,” Castro said. “That affects so many of the students that we serve here in California. Passing the DREAM Act will also open doors for those Dreamers who hesitated to apply to college, and it will be a powerful signal that equity exists for them.”
During the event’s welcome remarks, Excelencia’s co-founder and President Sarita Brown welcomed new U.S. Senator and San Fernando Valley native Alex Padilla, who said he was “particularly proud of CSUN” and declared his support in achieving Excelencia’s mission.
“It is imperative that we close the graduation equity gaps,” Padilla said. “Today’s briefing is a reminder of our collective call to action, and you have my pledge to be a committed partner in our nation’s capital.”
The briefing also included remarks and discussion from California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Oakley, CEO of The Trade Desk Jeff Green, and CSU Trustee and President of the ECMC Foundation Peter Taylor.
In closing, President Beck shared that she remains hopeful in our future and noted, “We have an unstoppable force of leadership at our fingertips — each other.”