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Diversity and inclusivity efforts at Texas Tech have been aimed at supporting the student body’s minority populations, the biggest of which is the Hispanic student population.

As Hispanic student enrollment has been increasing at Tech over the past few years, so do efforts to provide this group educational opportunities.

Hispanic Outlook on Education Magazine ranked Tech No. 33 for total Hispanic enrollment at four-year schools in its 2020 Top 100 Colleges and Universities for Hispanics list, according to a Tech news release.

In Fall 2019, Tech’s Hispanic undergraduate student enrollment was 9,495, which is 29.56 percent of the 32,125 total undergraduate student enrollment, according to the Tech Institutional Research Factbook. The total number of Hispanic students enrolled that semester was 10,381, which is 26.8 percent of the 38,742 total student enrollment.

These numbers increased by Fall 2020, when Tech’s Hispanic undergraduate student enrollment reached 9,846, which is 29.6 percent of the 33,269 total undergraduate student enrollment, according to the Factbook. The total number of Hispanic students enrolled this semester is 10,992, which is 27.26 percent of the 40,322 total student enrollment.

Tech was designated a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in 2019, according to the Tech HSI website. This designation requires a university to maintain a Hispanic undergraduate student enrollment that is more than 25 percent of the total undergraduate students enrolled.

As a HSI, Tech is eligible for as much as $8 million in U.S. Department of Education grant funding that can be used to help increase retention rates among Hispanic students, according to the Tech HSI website.

The Hispanic Outlook on Education Magazine list also recognized other efforts in educating Hispanic students and helping them graduate.

Along with the No. 33 ranking for enrollment, Tech also ranked in three top-10 categories, which include being No. 3 in architecture, No. 5 in human sciences and No. 9 in agriculture, according to the news release. Tech also ranked No. 36 in the top 100 schools for total bachelor’s degrees awarded and No. 58 in the top 100 schools for total master’s degrees awarded.

Simply being recognized for Hispanic student enrollment and for these different efforts to better serve the Hispanic campus community could impact Tech in different ways as well.

Paul Ruiz, lead administrator in the Tech Office of Institutional Diversity, said demographics is one reason Tech being recognized for these efforts is important. He said Texas is a majority-minority state, and the fastest growing segment of society in Texas is the Hispanic population.

“I think any institution of higher education that’s looking to be relevant in the future is going to be focused on the fastest growing segment of the student population, which is Hispanics,” he said.

At Tech, there are a lot of programs, academic courses and resources that are focused on Hispanic culture and the Hispanic student population that are offered to all students, Ruiz said. There also are multiple student organizations that consist of a large number of Hispanic student members.

“From all of those different ends, the student services, the student organizations and the academics, there’s a lot of focus on not just Hispanic students, but events that appeal to, you know, people interested in Hispanic culture,” he said.

In addition to the resources available on campus, Tech’s reputation compared to different institutions in the nation is another factor that could further spotlight its HSI status and contributions to the Hispanic campus community.

Tech is a Research I (R1) university, which is a doctoral university where research activity is very high, according to the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

There only are 16 R1 institutions that are HSIs, Ruiz said. R1 institutions are the top institutions in the country regarding academics and reputation, so the university is lucky to be considered an R1 institution that can collaborate with other R1 HSIs.

“They’re working at building a coalition of R1 institutions that are HSIs for us to promote our status as a HSI,” he said. “So, I think that when you’re one of 16, that really kind of puts you in some rarefied air.”

Through this coalition, Ruiz said there can be opportunities for these institutions to exchange graduate students, visit each other’s campuses and utilize programming that can build upon Tech’s HSI status.

“It looks like a great group of organizations that are looking to turn this HSI status into a real plus not just for the institution, but for the students as well,” he said. “We talked a lot about the kinds of things we can be doing for undergraduate students and graduate students as well as faculty and staff.”

Being a HSI allows Tech to have these relationships with other institutions, which will hopefully benefit Tech students and faculty, Ruiz said.

“I think we got several areas of the university that are kind of plugged in and making strides with respect to taking advantage of our HSI status,” he said.

In addition to collaborating with other institutions and other campus programs, Ruiz said Tech Undergraduate Admissions has focused on the growing Hispanic student population on campus.

Jason Hale, executive director of Tech Undergraduate Admissions, said there are several factors that have contributed to the growth of the Hispanic student population on campus. As the demographics in Texas have changed, he said the department wants to ensure the campus is reflective of the demographics in Texas.

“Undergraduate Admissions has tried to make sure that we’re diversifying our student body,” he said. “We’ve had some specific outreach and recruitment efforts to attract Hispanic students to Texas Tech University.”

It is important for Hispanic students to know that they will have a place here at Tech, Hale said. Along with providing access to the institution, he said letting students know what services and support systems are available on campus is another part of the department’s strategy.

With Tech being a quality research institution and other programs the university offers, Hale said it lends itself to more exposure. Students of all backgrounds are drawn to Tech.

To ensure students understand what programs are available and how different they are compared to other institutions, Hale said the admissions team works with academic colleges on campus. By strengthening partnerships with other entities on campus, he said Undergraduate Admissions gains connections they can refer students to for more information.

“The other thing, I think, we’ve been very intentional was our community outreach and making sure that we were involved in the community,” he said regarding efforts to reach more prospective students, especially Hispanic students.

Undergraduate Admissions has tried to provide prospective Hispanic students across the state with opportunities to communicate with an admissions counselor, Hale said.

“We, over the last few years, have strategically placed admissions counselors in some of the areas where there’s a high population of Hispanic students,” he said.

Alesi Hernandez, vice president of HSS and a senior construction management major from Odessa, said with increasing Hispanic student enrollment on campus, current and prospective students may perceive they are included at Tech.

“It definitely gives them some kind of voice to feel like they’re being heard,” she said.

It is important that not only Tech is recognized as a HSI but also as one of the leading universities for educating and graduating Hispanics, Hernandez said.

“I feel like one of the main factors for prospective students who decide on choosing the university is they want to see more people like them,” she said.

Priscilla Colmenero, president of the Tech Hispanic Student Society (HSS) and a senior accounting major from Caddo Mills, said Tech being recognized for its inclusivity efforts for Hispanic students helps people fully realize these efforts and influences them to attend Tech.

“But when they hear that Texas Tech is a HSI and then now that Texas Tech is recognized as one of the leading universities for Hispanics to go to, that makes it even better,” she said.

At other universities, Hispanic students may not feel as included as they would at Tech, Colmenero said.

“[The recognition] makes them want to reach out to more organizations, be a part of Texas Tech because they feel like Texas Tech is inclusive with the Hispanic community,” she said.

In addition, the enrollment and recruitment efforts consisting of diversifying the campus may have other impacts as well.

Ruiz hopes Hispanic students will choose Tech for an excellent education, he said.

“I think that the numbers are helping us focus on that group that will be leading this state in the very near future,” Ruiz said.

Whether it be campus opportunities or the growth in Hispanic student enrollment, Ruiz said the recognition of university inclusivity efforts for Hispanics will have a lasting impact.  

“Certainly, it’s something that we should be proud of,” Ruiz said, “and I think it’s certainly something that sets us up for success in the future.”

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