Symposium to facilitate discussions on what it means to be Hispanic Serving Institution

March 6, 2009 by Mario A. Montes NMSU News Center

What does it mean to be a Hispanic Serving Institution? Why was such a designation established? What should it signify? Who does it represent? These are a few of the questions that the “Hispanic Serving Institution Symposium” will try to answer from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, at New Mexico State University’s Corbett Center Auditorium.

NMSU is designated as a HSI because more than 25 percent of its student population is Hispanic, and the community and state it serves is more than 25 percent Hispanic. It is this designation that prompted a group called HSI Working Group, led by Dulcinea Lara, assistant professor of history, and Dana Greene, assistant professor of criminal justice, both at the College of Arts and Sciences, to explore in a deeper perspective of what the HSI designation means for the university, its students, faculty, staff and the community NMSU serves.

Lara and Greene, in their conversations with other faculty, students and staff, have found there are varying opinions of what it means to be designated a Hispanic Serving Institution. The unclear or non-existent knowledge of this designation has led them and others to seek answers and a better understanding. The symposium would be a first step to “start a broader conversation about multiple kinds of diversity on campus,” Lara said.

“The hope for me is that this is not seen as a Hispanic issue but rather we are a Hispanic Serving Institution and how do we all function within that designation,” she said.

“I think it’s not about just a sense of obligation, or celebration or cultural pride, but how can we make the most of this designation? What could it possibly mean for all of us in whatever capacity we interact and walk in this community,” Greene said. “How can we give it life?”

To learn more about the history of the HSI designation, Tomas Arciniega, a board member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) will recount in his talk titled, “History and Politics Behind the HSI Designation,” the social activism and historical landscape that led to establishing the HSI designation. He will speak from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Margie Huerta, president of Dona Ana Community College, will give an account of NMSU’s HSI story in her talk titled “HSI Locally – NMSU and DACC.” She will discuss how many Hispanic students NMSU serves and speak about how well NMSU is serving them. She will speak from 11 a.m. to noon.

Included in the program from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m., is a group of students involved with “Latinos for EXITO!” who will share their experiences at the university.

There will be open forums at 10:30 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. The second forum will have a panel consisting of Arciniega, Huerta and EXITO students.

The symposium is free and open to the public. It is hosted by NMSU Hispanic faculty, staff and student caucus. Sponsors for the symposium are the Office of the Provost, Office of the Associate Provost, Dona Ana Community College Office of the President and NMSU’s Dance Program.

For more information please contact Dulcinea Lara at (575) 646-3649 or

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