Date of this Version
Review of Higher Education, 39(2), 312-315. doi: 10.1353/rhe.2016.0008
Institutions, just as the people who create them, inevitably change. What we believe describes and drives that change and what it means for everyone involved depends largely on our values and points of reference. In this edited volume, Núñez, Hurtado, and Calderón Galdeano invite readers to question prevailing ontological and epistemological assumptions regarding one of the most widespread, but least understood, institutional changes in higher education in the United States: a proliferation in the number of colleges and universities designated by the federal government as Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) that has coincided with the remarkable growth in the Hispanic population. In contrast to fellow Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs; e.g., Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Tribal Colleges and Universities), HSIs were not founded—with only a few exceptions— to serve any particular group at all. Rather, all not-for-profit institutions of higher education can receive a federal HSI designation when they cross the threshold of 25% Latina/os among enrolled students, regardless of whether or not they choose to embrace that designation. This process is playing out among all sectors, sizes, and types of postsecondary institutions throughout the United States. Núñez, Hurtado, and Calderón Galdeano report that the 370 current HSIs represent 11% of all U.S. colleges and enroll 18% of all college students, a number set to increase with another 277 emerging HSIs (colleges with between 15% and 24% Latina/o student enrollment) that researchers have identified (Calderón Galdeano & Santiago, 2014). Yet their numerical growth and ubiquity, the authors of this book contend, contrasts sharply with how little we know of their diversity and potential to transform the national higher education landscape.