On July 1, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) declared Southwestern University eligible to become a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), making SU the only top 100 liberal arts university to receive such a designation.

The HSI Division of the DOE provides grant funding to higher education institutions to strengthen institutional programs, facilities, and services that expand the educational opportunities for Hispanic Americans and other underrepresented populations. This distinction is a testament to the University’s unwavering commitment to diversity, inclusion, and providing exceptional educational opportunities to students. Southwestern’s HSI designation coincides with its recent acceptance as a member of Excelencia in Education.

“With these achievements, Southwestern solidifies its dedication to serving Hispanic and Latinx students, fostering an environment that celebrates cultural richness and promotes academic excellence,” said SU President Laura Skandera Trombley. “As an HSI, Southwestern will continue to prioritize the success and advancement of underrepresented students, offering a range of specialized programs, resources, and support services to ensure a transformative and empowering educational experience.”

The University has appointed Amalia Merino as the Hispanic student success coordinator and Professor of Spanish Laura Senio Blair as the assistant dean of faculty for strategic initiatives to support and advance Southwestern’s commitment to achieving and maintaining federal HSI status.

As Assistant Dean of Strategic Initiatives, I am committed to harnessing the momentum generated by our HSI designation to enhance affirming experiences for students, staff, and faculty,” said Senio Blair, who will convene a task force this fall to envision how initiatives can be more effectively coordinated. “This collaborative endeavor will play a pivotal role in identifying engaging programming opportunities that align with our DIBE initiatives and priorities, including HSI programming.” Blair will prioritize engagement with the broader HSI community through events and conferences hosted by Southwestern’s HSI consortia partners, specifically Excelencia in Education and HACU (Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities),” and she will collaborate with Sonya Robinson, senior director of Grants and Foundation Relations, to draft multiple grant proposals to enhance HSI-related endeavors. The University has already written its first grant under Title V, Part A of the Higher Education Act, which is a significant asset for admission efforts as it increases federal aid and paid internships for qualifying students.

In addition to making Southwestern the only top 100 liberal arts university in the U.S. News rankings to receive HSI status, SU is also the only Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) school to obtain federal HSI status.