UO moves toward becoming an Hispanic-serving institution

Article first appeared in Around the O on April 26, 2023

The University of Oregon is making significant strides towards becoming a designated Hispanic-serving institution with the release of a comprehensive report and the recent appointment of a special adviser to lead the initiative.

A federal designation would allow the UO to access federal funding to expand educational opportunities and improve academic outcomes for Latinx students and other underrepresented students.

The HSI Task Force, appointed by the provost in February 2022, has released a report detailing the institution's progress and recommendations to achieve Hispanic-serving status. The federal designation is available to colleges and universities that enroll at least 25 percent Latinx students.

Hispanic-serving institutions and other minority-serving institutions were created to encourage institutions, especially predominantly white institutions, to better serve students of color. It also aims to expand and enhance the academic offerings, program quality and institutional stability of the colleges and universities for the benefit of all students.

The report, "Report on the University of Oregon Becoming a Hispanic-Serving Institution," outlines the efforts made by the task force and provides a roadmap for the university's ongoing journey to become a designated institution.

One of the highlights of the report is the steady progress in increasing Latinx enrollment at the UO over the past few years, with 15.3 percent of the undergraduate student population in fall 2022 identifying as Hispanic or Latinx. The report acknowledges that while progress has been made with Latinx undergraduate enrollment, work remains to be done to reach the 25 percent threshold for Hispanic-serving status.

The report outlines a set of recommendations that would help UO receive the designation, including revising and refining data collection, expanding outreach efforts to Latinx communities, and developing a comprehensive and clear support system. The report also emphasizes the importance of hiring and investing in diverse faculty members and staff, creating an implementation task force, and hiring someone to lead the work.

The provost has appointed Laura Pulido, professor of indigenous, race and ethnic studies, to serve as special adviser to provide leadership on the initiative by conducting campus and external engagement and convening an implementation team to explore, develop or implement, as appropriate, the recommendations found in the “Report on the University of Oregon Becoming a Hispanic-Serving Institution,” published by the task force last month.

“Pulido’s appointment is a critical next step in UO's efforts to become an HSI as we work toward our commitment to greater diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Janet Woodruff-Borden, interim provost and executive vice president. “Through her leadership of the task force, Pulido has shown herself to be a thoughtful, dedicated and collaborative administrator. This inclusive approach will be essential to helping the University of Oregon become more than an institution that simply serves our Latinx and but enables them, and all of our students, to thrive.”

Woodruff-Borden said the initiative is not only important for the institution but also essential for the Latinx community as well as Oregon itself. Latinx residents are the largest community of color in Oregon, and Latinx students are currently underserved by the UO and Oregon higher education in general. The Hispanic-serving designation would provide much-needed resources to support their success, which the university believes would help the state's economy and overall well-being.

“I am very much looking forward to building on the work of the HSI task force.” Pulido said. “The task force did a tremendous job of assessing the possibilities and challenges, and this appointment will enable the UO to develop the capacity to move to the next level.”