by Chanel Ward
Metropolitan State University of Denver has long been known for its diversity and for being a pinnacle of higher education in Denver’s Latino community for generations, and on February 19th, the University finally earned its Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) status.
“As of the last count, 63.5% of white students have gotten there, but for Latino students that number is 28.6%, and in my view that gap is unacceptable.”
Janine Davidson, MSU President
The federal threshold to qualify for an HSI designation requires that 25% of all students identify as Hispanic, while also being enrolled full-time. That designation has been met and exceeded with 28.4%, which is over 5,400 students, meeting this threshold.
The milestone was celebrated on May 9th, where a mix of students, alumni, activists and both the current MSU president Janine Davidson, PhD and the past president, Dr. Stephen Jordan, PhD formally announced the HIS effort.
Dr. Jordan launched the HSI initiative in 2007, when Latino students made up only 13% of what was then, Metropolitan State College.
Dr Jordan, along with Esther Rodríguez, former special assistant to the president for HSI; Luis Torres, Ph.D., former deputy provost; Judi Diaz Bonacquisti, former associate vice president for Enrollment Services; Angela Marquez, Ph.D., special assistant to the president for HSI; the HSI Implementation Team; and the HSI Task Force were instrumental in the effort.
“I had the opportunity to create the vision and to lead the effort, but this is an effort that was put together by so many people on this campus and in this community,” said Dr. Jordan, about his role in the designation.
“It’s really the people here who achieved that goal,” he said about the over ten-year effort, to which he applauded Dr. Davidson for carrying the torch and creating the Roadways concept.
“The department has widely set a goal to ensure that 66% of the people of the state have some kind of post high school education credential,” said Dr. Davidson.
“As of the last count, 63.5% of white students have gotten there, but for Latino students that number is 28.6%, and in my view that gap is unacceptable,” she asserted.
Dr. Davidson spoke with El Semanario to share what the designation signifies for the University. “This means the accumulation of ten years of effort by an incredibly prescient leadership that came before me that realized that this population is the future of Colorado and that MSU Denver needed to position itself in a way that can really serve that population really well,” explained Dr. Davidson.
“But the other thing about it that I think a lot of people don’t always realize is that by us being designated as HSI, means that 28% of our students are Latino, but the other 72% are not; but what’s good about this, is that it allows us to apply for federal grants and money that will help ALL of our students,” Dr. Davidson added, while calling the designation, “an all around excellent thing for MSU and for our all of our students.”
She also acknowledged the adversities for students in continuing their education.
“A thing that a lot of our Latino students run into, is problems with transferring, and the advising services that you need to really get through the system are there; and so are the grants that you can apply for to really help the university do that better and that will help everybody.”
The financial assistance will help Latino student retention, “that’s the entire purpose of the grants,” Dr. Davidson said, while adding, “assistance from the federal government will enhance our ability to do just that, across the board.”
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock praised the initiative, “it’s all about leveling the playing field for education and helping all our students reach for brighter futures.”
To learn more about MSU’s HSI visit their website at
Chanel Ward is an Independent Reporter for The Weekly Issue/El Semanario.
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