The CU’s campuses in Denver, Anschutz, obtain federal recognition as Hispanic Serving Establishments
The University of Colorado Denver, along with the CU’s Anschutz Medical Campus, has received state recognition as a Hispanic Serving Institution, making it the third and final school on the downtown Auraria campus to be recognized for its commitment to Latino students will.
A Hispanic serving institution is a college or university with a high concentration of students with financial need and a student population that is at least 25% Latinos. The federal designation enables institutions to apply for multi-million dollar grants that can benefit the entire campus.
“That’s the bureaucratic formula,” said Antonio Farias, Denver University Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Justice and Inclusion. “I’m more interested in the human formula, which is not about numbers. How do students find CU Denver to be a place they belong? The word “belonging” is very powerful for me. It means more than just convenience. It means connection, co-creation and it means control. That you are an active, young agent of your own destiny and your education. “
CU’s Denver and Anschutz campuses are the first research universities in the state to receive this status. Ten other higher education institutions across Colorado are already HSI certified, including Metropolitan State University and the Community College of Denver on the Auraria campus. Adams State University and Colorado State University Pueblo have also received HSI status.
According to a press release from CU Denver, the surge in Latino students makes sense given Colorado’s demographics. By 2050, Colorado’s Latino population is projected to reach more than a third of the total population and workforce
“The institution embraces the changing landscape by introducing new policies and faculty appointments that focus on diversity, equity and inclusion that create a culture of belonging,” the press release said.
CU Denver Student Union President Chris Hilton is the embodiment of a Hispanic student drawn to the university’s commitment to access and equal opportunities.
The 31-year-old nontraditional student started at CU Denver about a decade ago before life got in his way, and left university after a semester. Right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hilton was intrigued by a CU Denver public health series of lectures he attended and learned about the language and history of pandemics from professors at CU Denver. The series was so interesting for Hilton that he re-enrolled and is now studying public health.
“That designation is the official title for what we’ve always felt,” said Hilton. “We’re a diverse campus and having something that on paper says 25% of your student body is Hispanic and it fits our feelings, it fits the community we come from, I think it’s really exciting . And who can say ‘no’ to get more scholarships. “
Farias said the HSI designation will open the door to grants from the federal government and organizations like the National Science Foundation. Farias said the university intends to look into scholarships that will help remove barriers for students and give them more opportunities and resources to succeed.
“Part of what a true Hispanic serving institution becomes is to change the way we look at our students,” said Farias. “Students come to us exactly as they should be. You don’t come with a deficit. Some of this is a realignment of how we look at students and think that there is nothing wrong with them. The old model says students are broken because they’re poor, Hispanic or a first generation college student, and that’s an antiquated model that stigmatizes them and says they’re not worth it … That gives us time rethink our performance education and services and remove barriers. “