NAU achieves status of Hispanic-Serving Institution

Hispanic student in lab

Northern Arizona University now meets U.S. Department of Education Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) criteria and has earned recognition from the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) as an HSI.

The designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution gives NAU greater access to grants, including Title V, which provides funds to expand educational opportunities for, and improve the attainment of, Hispanic students. This designation denotes that a college or university’s Hispanic enrollment makes up at least 25 percent of its total enrollment and is a recognition of the diversity of its student population.

“This is an exciting development for NAU and one we have worked hard to achieve over the last few years,” said NAU President Rita Cheng. “The HSI recognition underscores our commitment to underrepresented populations and providing increasing levels of access to these students. We are proud of attaining this distinction, as it reflects positively on our staff and faculty and institution overall.”

NAU’s population has strong rates of diversity (overall 39 percent) and first-generation (46 percent), and these designations allow the university to receive the support to serve the needs of all students. Latinos make up nearly 30 percent of Arizona’s population, and NAU is working to not just enroll Hispanic students but also to offer support and celebrate students’ degree completions and success after graduation.

NAU-Yuma, which has a student body that is 79 percent Hispanic, has been an HSI since 2007 and has received Title V funds to support students since receiving the designation. NAU has made strong gains among Hispanic students in pursuit of a higher education degree, including these highlights:

  • Hispanic enrollment grew from 16 percent in 2011 to 25 percent in 2020. In fall 2020, NAU enrolled 7,378 Hispanic students statewide. At NAU-Yuma, the Hispanic student population is 79 percent, growing 10 percent in the last 10 years.
  • In August 2019, Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education magazine ranked NAU among the nation’s top 100 institutions for Latinos.
  • In fiscal year 2019-20, NAU celebrated the graduation of 1,686 Hispanic students, accounting for 22 percent of NAU’s statewide graduates.
  • In the 2020 issue of Diverse Issues in Higher Education, NAU ranked in the top 100 degree-producers for Hispanic students, including three undergraduate degrees in the top 10; 6 in the top 15; 23 in the top 100; and 12 graduate degrees in the top 100.
  • In May 2020, NAU entered a partnership with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) to promote academic cooperation and human capital development through research and education.
  • The Center for Materials Interfaces in Research and Applications (¡MIRA!), established in 2019, launched its ¡MIRA! Scholars program this fall supporting undergraduate research. ¡MIRA! continues to open doors for Latinx/o/as pursuing STEM degrees.
  • In 2019, the Victoria Foundation awarded T. Mark Montoya the Dr. Alfredo G. de los Santos Jr., Outstanding Latina/o Faculty: Service/Teaching in Higher Education Award.
  • In 2019, ¡MIRA! director Jennifer Martinez was awarded the Pete C. Garcia Victoria Foundation award.
  • In 2018, faculty members Gabe Montaño and Yvonne Luna received service teaching awards from the Victoria Foundation.
  • In 2017, the Victoria Foundation awarded President Cheng the Advocate for Educational Diversity Award for her support of Latino and Hispanic students.
  • In 2019 NAU-Yuma received a $2.7 million award from the Helios Education Foundation to create a collaborative initiative to help high school students transition to college and graduate prepared for successful careers in the workforce.

This academic year, 2,000 Hispanic students are earning their degrees at NAU.

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Margarita Báuza | NAU Communications