Sylvia Hurtado: International Latino Book Award Honors Work on HSIs

HEOC professor and co-editors recognized for new book on potential and importance of Hispanic-serving institutions.

“Hispanic-Serving Institutions: Advancing Research and Transformative Practice” by Sylvia Hurtado (With Anne-Marie Núñez and Emily Calderón Galdeano,New York: Routledge, 2015) was recognized as the Best Academic Themed Book at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards. The awards are sponsored by Latino Literacy Now, in association with Las Comadres Para Las Americas and REFORMA.

Professor Hurtado, who directed the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA and teaches in the division of Higher Education & Organizational Change (HEOC), is an authority on campus climate and diversity within higher education. Her research interests include advancing higher education for underrepresented groups, organizational change, and training a diverse scientific workforce.

“Hispanic-Serving Institutions: Advancing Research and Transformative Practice” was recognized at the International Latino Book Awards event in September at CSU Dominguez Hills. Courtesy of Sylvia Hurtado

“Hispanic-Serving Institutions” is the first overview of HSIs and includes significant research contributions from a dozen Latina/o early career scholars. Hurtado co-edited the book with Anne-Marie Núñez, a HEOC alumna and associate professor at the Ohio State University and Emily Calderón Galdeano (formerly of Excelencia in Education). Contributors include HEOC alumni Marcela Cuellar, an assistant professor in the School of Education at UC Davis, and Gina Garcia, assistant professor in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh.

says that there has been limited research on the growth of these institutions and their significance in higher education, despite the fact that they educate 60 percent of all Latina/o students in higher education.

“One of the biggest research challenges is understanding how these organizations are changing due to Latina/o demographic shifts,” says Hurtado. “HSIs range from research intensive institutions to many regional colleges located near Latina/o communities. They face the challenge of advancing Latina/o social mobility, and that of other underrepresented groups, with fewer resources. Once researchers account for resources, you can see how HSIs are an asset in American higher education.”

Hurtado points out that the 409 HSIs in the nation – which currently comprise 12 percent of all postsecondary institutions – will soon be expanded with another 300 such institutions, which are slated to reach the 25 percent Hispanic enrollment threshold required for federal designation as a HSI.

“HSIs are responsible for the lion’s share of degrees awarded to low-income, first generation, and Latina/o students, and have achieved success in the awarding of STEM degrees among these groups,” says Hurtado. “At the same time, they are criticized for their lower degree attainment rates, as many enroll students that have the most financial and academic challenges. Several scholars in the book write about how faculty and staff in HSIs are working to improve student success. We will see exemplary practices from these institutions in the future.”

Prior to arriving at UCLA in 2004, Professor Hurtado served as director and department chair of the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan. She also served on the Academic Senate’s Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools for the University of California system for six years, chairing changes on admissions review and eligibility to attend California’s public four-year colleges and universities.