Goshen College is slowly and steadily building up to becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI).
The designation will make GC able to apply for federal funding that could increase resources for intercultural development. Without the HSI status, GC cannot apply for that specific funding.
President Jim Brenneman said, “We have been building the infrastructure and the potential capacity that opens the doors for this kind of growth. We must incrementally keep building the systems.”
GC was the first Indiana college to attend the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) six years ago.
Rebecca Hernandez, associate dean for intercultural development and educational partnerships, said, “We’re definitely leading in noticing a need to serve Hispanic students.”
However, more colleges from Indiana have attended HACU this past year and the competition for Title V funding, the grants for intercultural development programs, is increasing as interest in serving Hispanic populations increases among colleges.
The goal is that in five years, with a two percent increase of Hispanic enrollment each year, GC will be able to apply for the official designation as an HSI and also a Title V federal grant.
This could potentially make GC the first college in Indiana to procure the numbers to apply for this title and grant.
“The hardest part of building anything is construction,” said Hernandez. “But momentum builds momentum and we have momentum.”
Brenneman and Hernandez agree that becoming an HSI is about addressing a positive cultural shift.
GC becoming an HSI would help create a college-going culture in Latino communities and could change “internal systems and structures to have diversity at the institution’s core,” said Brenneman.
Hernandez believes that GC becoming an HSI is important for Hispanic students because they want to see their communities welcomed by the college with authentic actions taking place to include them.
Hernandez said, “The benefit of having more educated Latinos in this community is that young people will see more role models like themselves.”
As an HSI, GC would be eligible to compete for a Title V grant. That money would extend a Lily grant that began a campus-wide transformation in intercultural education, including the creation of the Center for Intercultural and International Education.
With a Title V grant, bridge programs that introduce GC into the community and that support teaching more inclusive pedagogy and learning to professors could be funded.
The next goal, after gaining a 25 percent Hispanic student body, would be to add more diverse faculty and staff to the college.
Brenneman showed an interest in creating a “pipeline” and endowment for GC graduates to come back as faculty and staff through a diverse faculty recruitment strategy.
Hernandez added that it is important to attract diverse faculty and staff by finding “potential where we didn’t see it before.”
However, becoming an HSI is just one strategy of the bigger campus goal: to increase enrollment.
Dan Koop Liechty, director of admissions, agreed that it is reasonable to predict a two percent increase of Hispanic students each year.
Various strategies are being used in order to meet the first incremental goal of a two percent increase each year.
Spanish advertisements, brochures in high schools, summer programs for minority students and an informational radio show are reaching out to a three-county region with pockets of Hispanic populations.
Combined with an increase in bilingual staff and new loan repayment systems, potential Hispanic students are better able to access and afford GC.
Liechty seconded Brenneman and Hernandez in the key point that there is an overall desire to grow in enrollment across the board.
An increasing student body could mean a more linear, or decreasing, Hispanic percentage on campus.
Becoming an HSI is a strategy for “[inviting] the cultural diversity that we all know is good,” Brenneman said, “but it is only one strategy of many strategies for diversification.”