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Cal State San Bernardino is a proud Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), with a Hispanic undergraduate full-time student enrollment of 66 percent as of fall 2020, well above the HSI requirement of at least 25 percent.

But being an HSI means so much more than a percentage. It means actively opening the doors to opportunity, providing more accessible support and resources, and ultimately supplying the tools needed for successful careers and fulfilling futures.

“CSUSB being an HSI means that myself, my family, and my community are being represented,” said Suany Echevarria, CSUSB’s ASI vice president of finance and graduate student in the single subject Spanish credential program. “It means that we have a space, an organization and individuals that believe in me and seek to contribute to who I am becoming. It means having the opportunity for mentors that look like me.”

As one the leading HSIs in the country, having earned that distinction in 1994 and every year since, CSUSB continues to focus on growing its efforts and providing a dynamic environment for its Hispanic community and all who attend here. In fact, just last October, CSUSB was listed among the top universities for Hispanics in the nation, according to Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education.

Being an HSI means creating and sustaining essential outreach programs to help young people think of college and their future, such as CSUSB’s Black Brown Young Men’s Conference, an annual event where about 100-150 Latino and African American high school seniors visit the campus to get a taste of the collegiate experience.

It means offering welcoming on-campus spaces such as the CSUSB LatinX Cultural Center, which offers a supportive and inclusive environment for Latinos/as/x and allies providing leadership; the Undocumented Student Success Center, which serves as a place for undocumented students (from throughout the world) and allies to connect with each other regarding immigration, AB 540, employment opportunities and more; and the university’s Association of Latino Faculty, Staff & Students (ALFSS), which has awarded more than $300,000 in scholarships to students and holds Latino graduation celebrations at commencement.

It means having diverse, compassionate faculty who are driven to make a difference, such as Enrique G. Murillo Jr., professor of education, president of the Southern California Consortium of Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and founder and executive director of the highly successful Latino Education and Advocacy Days (LEAD) program.

LEAD, which Murillo founded at CSUSB in 1999, serves as a primary site for a set of innovative and productive programs, publications and events for Latinos and education, with its annual signature summit that has a market reach of more than 300 million households.

“The principal purpose of all the LEAD events/programs are to support closing the achievement gap among low-income, historically underrepresented students and their peers,” said Murillo. “The impact and success of LEAD had to be grounded on collaboration, participation, and outreach. Our work, by necessity, involves significant participation and partnerships in the region and nationally, and strong interactive connections with Latino networks in the U.S., as well as Latin Americans and Indigenous Peoples throughout the Americas and the world.”

And as its founding editor-in-chief, Murillo also introduced the only Tier-1 academic journal housed at a CSU campus: the Journal of Latinos and Education (JLE), which provides a cross-, multi- and interdisciplinary forum for scholars and writers of diverse disciplines who share a common interest in the analysis, discussion, critique and dissemination of educational issues that impact Latinos.

CSUSB is also honored to have associate professor of Spanish Bibiana Diaz, who combines her knowledge of the language and her passion for theater as the faculty advisor of the student group Acto Latino Teatro Universitario (Acto Latino Theater Group), where members got the opportunity of a lifetime when they performed in Colombia.  

“Having the opportunity to participate in such a renowned international festival as in Colombia – it was like a dream come true,” said Diaz, who founded the group for the purpose of fostering interest in Hispanic/Latino language, culture and literature through the presentation of Spanish-language plays to a diverse audience. “And that’s the thing that I most love about CSUSB; they understand that teaching is not only in the classroom. They understand that the teaching goes beyond these four walls.”

Students also go “beyond the four walls” and gain experiences through the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities (HACU) program, in which CSUSB has been a member of since 1991. Under the direction of CSUSB President Tomás D. Morales, the university sends students to participate in the annual HACU conference, which represents more than 500 colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher education success in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Latin America and Spain. Morales, who served as HACU chairman in 2014, was named to the HACU Hall of Champions in 2016 for his contributions to improving opportunities for college students.

Being an HSI also means entering valuable partnerships that help the Hispanic community. For instance, earlier this year, the university joined national higher education leader Excelencia in Education to bring to the public “25 Years of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs),” a major research project.

This effort, supported by CSUSB and other committed institutions from across the United States, has produced a detailed set of analyses to inform educational policy makers, academic researchers, elected officials, and foundations how best to serve Latino students in higher education.

“We are deeply honored to be part of this great project that shows the hard work and dedication of Hispanic-Serving Institutions like Cal State San Bernardino in creating robust and challenging curriculum and programs to help our Latino students succeed academically and in our communities,” Morales said when the partnership was announced.

And because of CSUSB’s work as an HSI, the university has received numerous grants that create significant opportunities, such as the National Institutes of Health’s $871,000 award to CSUSB ASPIRE (Advancing Sponsored Program Infrastructure for Research Excellence), which aims at increasing the diversity of faculty and students engaged in biomedical and biobehavioral research and research overall.

For CSUSB, reaching a certain percentage is just the surface of what it truly means to be a Hispanic-Serving Institution – as its name suggests, the university is here to serve. And the effort never stops –there’s always work to be done and opportunity to grow.

“CSUSB must better and continue to prepare Latino students for tomorrow’s challenges through collaboration and leveraging institutional strengths and resources,” said Murillo. “We must provide a cooperative vehicle to enhance our success in reaching our individual and collective goals, such as developing an intentional campus culture and redesigning curricula, to include more community engagement and/or community-based learning and research, enhance faculty development, and equity agenda in faculty hiring, tenure, and promotion, and nurturing mutual vision and alliance across disciplines, colleges, and/or institutions.”

To learn more about CSUSB’s work as an HSI, visit the CSUSB Hispanic-Serving Institution website.