The HSI research group was first called to existence on Feb. 8, 2017 when Dr. Karin Scarpinato from the Division of Research invited possible interested people to a meeting to discuss its formation. In April of 2017, Ramírez traveled to Las Vegas to attend a conference on Hispanic-Serving Institutions Educators to learn about the major players and topics surrounding HSIs. Following a report on the visit, the group was reconvened in the fall of 2017, and Vásquez-Colina was designated as new co-chair joining Ramírez in this leadership role.
The university received designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the United States Department of Education in February of 2017. Prior to the designation, FAU was ranked No. 31 in “The 50 Top Ethnically Diverse Colleges In America” by Best College Reviews, and received a $4.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to increase the number of degrees awarded to Hispanic and low-income students in computer science, computer engineering and electrical engineering fields.
Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) are colleges and universities with an enrollment of at least 25 percent full-time Hispanic undergraduate students. HSIs are themselves part of a larger designation, Minority Serving Institutions, which emerged in response to the historical trend of underrepresentation of minorities in higher education. HSIs in particular have been significant in elevating Hispanics educational access and workforce prospects since they were first eligible to receive federal funding in 1992. Indeed, although only 11% of all postsecondary colleges and universities in the United States are designated as HSIs (Galdeano & Santiago, 2014), more than half or 59% of all Hispanics enrolled in U.S. colleges attend Hispanic-Serving Institutions (Santiago, 2013).