What is a Hispanic-Serving Institution?

A Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) is an institution of higher education that has an enrollment of undergraduate full-time equivalent students that is at least 25 percent Hispanic. To become an HSI, an institution has to apply for designation via the US Department of Education.

Cal Lutheran reached 25 percent Latina/o in 2013 and obtained HSI Status in 2016. In 2019, more than 37% of our student population identifies as Latina/o. HSI designation provides many benefits, including the opportunity to apply for federal funding. In 2016, Cal Lutheran received 6.1 million dollars in federal HSI Title III grants.

How did Cal Lutheran become an HSI?

There is no recipe to becoming an HSI, however, most HSIs develop because of demographic changes in the areas surrounding the institution. This is unlike Tribal Colleges and Universities and Historically Black Colleges and Universities which were founded to serve their respective populations. An increase in the Latina/o population in both Los Angeles County (49%) and Ventura County (42%), along with intentional efforts to increase the diversity of the student body, prompted Cal Lutheran’s move to become an HSI.

What does it mean for Cal Lutheran to be an HSI? How does this fit our University Mission? How does this fit our Lutheran mission?

At Cal Lutheran being an HSI means taking an internal look at processes and systems in higher education that have disproportionately affected underserved and minoritized groups*. This means, looking at all areas of the University to be more inclusive. In 2017, Inclusion became a major component of our University Strategic Goals; this has allowed Cal Lutheran to grow as a leader in the HSI community and set an example of inclusive excellence. Cal Lutheran’s mission is to help develop leaders for a global society, in becoming an HSI, we honor this promise to students (and their families).  As an HSI, Cal Lutheran provides students a more holistic view of the world enabling them to become leaders in an ever changing and diverse world. As a member of the ELCA, Cal Lutheran embraces the teachings of inclusivity championed by the church.

How do all students benefit from Cal Lutheran’s HSI designation?

HSI designation has given Cal Lutheran, via Title III and Title V funds, the opportunity to better serve Latina/o transfer students, Latina/o students pursuing degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and Latina/o students interested in becoming teachers.

Tutoring and supplemental instruction in the STEM disciplines have been implemented and all STEM students have access to advisors in addition to faculty to guide their careers.

Both Title III and Title V funds have positively impacted curriculum in all areas of study. Faculty, through HSI funding, may apply to receive professional development to incorporate high impact teaching practices, such as active learning and culturally responsive pedagogy.

*refers to Latina/o, Black/African American, Pacific Islander, Native Alaskan, American Indian, and/or low-income students