President Barack Obama has proclaimed Sept. 14-20 as National Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) week. According to the proclamation, Hispanics are projected to account for almost one-third of our Nation's population by 2060 and ensuring they have access to the best education possible is important to securing America's success.

The current enrollment at the University of New Mexico consists of 11,235 Hispanic students---41 percent of the total UNM population.

As the state’s only flagship institution, UNM is not only an HSI, but also boasts the Carnegie distinction of being a Very High Research Institution, and is extremely invested in providing programming that fits with these designations.

“UNM is only one of four institutions countrywide designated as both Hispanic Serving Institutions and Very High Research,” said Eliseo “Cheo” Torres, vice president for Student Affairs. “This puts us in a very unique position in the way we are able to recruit, retain, serve and graduate our students.”

The Division of Student Affairs currently offers many programs and services, which directly correlate to our unique distinctions including: STEM UP, STEM Gateway and STEM Collaborative. Consequently, UNM continues to explore various avenues to enhance the work that can be accomplished at our university, and has organized deans, faculty and staff to review the goals of UNM as a HSI, the Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) in the Future committee. 

The committee is charged with developing an institutional plan to bring UNM to the forefront as an HSI leader, which has an inclusive, collaborative and successful program to address the needs of Hispanic students. The committee is looking at addressing issues such as advocating for Hispanic students through the UNM HSI goals; establishing UNM as the leading HSI across the country; and expanding on current structure and leverage existing resources in a collaborative effort. 

As part of National Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week, Obama is asking public officials, educators and all the people of our nation to celebrate with appropriate programs; ceremonies and activities that promote the many ways higher institutions and their graduates contribute to our country. 

Obama refers to the higher education systems as one of the “crown jewels” of our nation, and believes that investing in it is a hallmark of America. To that end, the Division of Student Affairs is doing its part to ensure the success of our students.

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Democratic Hispanic Task Force, made the following statement recognizing the immense contributions of Hispanics to the United States:

"This month, we celebrate the extraordinary contributions made by the Hispanic community and their role in building a more vibrant and prosperous America. These contributions continue to enrich New Mexico's history, culture, and economy.

"We also recognize the important role Hispanic-Serving Institutions in New Mexico have played in educating our students, training our workforce, and inspiring the next generation of leaders. I remain deeply committed to fighting for the issues that matter most to New Mexico's Hispanic community and expanding opportunities for a bright future."

Sen. Heinrich is a cosponsor of the Hispanic Heritage Month Resolution, to recognize Hispanic Heritage Month beginning Sept. 15, 2015, and the Hispanic-Serving Institutions Resolution, to designate the week beginning Sept. 14, 2015, as National Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week.

Hispanic-Serving Institutions are non-profit, degree-granting institutions with at least 25 percent of full-time students that are Hispanic. In school year 2013-2014, there were 23 Hispanic-Serving Institutions in New Mexico, including the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University.

During that same year, there were 409 Hispanic-Serving Institutions nationwide. Hispanic-Serving Institutions represent just 12 percent of all non-profit institutions of higher education across the country, yet serve nearly 60 percent of all Hispanic undergraduate students, enrolling more than a million Hispanic undergraduates in 2013

Visit the AVPSS website for more information on specific HSI-focused programs.