The Hispanic population is one of the fastest growing demographics in the United States. About 17% of university students are of Hispanic decent, which is a 13.6% increase from 1972. However, Latina/-o faculty make up only 4% of the total higher education faculty. The leadership pipeline for Hispanic faculty is lagging due to missing support and understanding of their culture.
Hispanic faculty is an underserved community within higher education. Their unique perspectives are often aimed at local Latino communities and their needs. Due to biased institutionalized norms Hispanic faculty tend to align their research with national/international popular issues to gain acknowledgment and career security. Consequently, local nuance-based knowledge is ignored, which prohibits Latino leadership preparation and institutional outreach.
Hispanic Serving Institutions
Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and Latina/-o faculty have high potential to (re-)shape the academic work environment. HSIs prepare, develop, and retain Latina/-o leaders and scholars. HSIs begin to grow in numbers, however, many institutions receive the designation based on Hispanic student enrollment and not on their mission to develop programs.
However, persistent racial and dominant ideologies prevent critically empowering and preparing educational leaders to serve in Latino communities, which improves access and equity in Higher Education Institutions. Simultaneously, all other educators and researchers need to consider their work contribution to Latino communities, since the enter Higher Education community needs to reshape the archaic conception of academia’s representation.
Support for Latina/-o Leadership
As we mentioned in our previous article, underrepresented groups take on the majority of service tasks and outreach. Hispanic faculty have the potential to promote cultural, linguistic, and historical connections for Latino communities and serve their local population. Nonetheless, the support to encourage multicultural leadership cannot rest upon their shoulders alone.
We encourage Higher Education Institutions to broaden their borders into surrounding communities and to support positive change and problem solving from communities to schools and universities. This way institutions can help to create an infrastructure that supports Hispanic future leaders and higher education professionals.
This infrastructure must take into consideration that there is an inherent diversity among the Hispanic community. Therefore, the group cannot be generalized into a simple program. It is necessary to expand the Latina/-o narrative to include an understanding of unique Hispanic identity. While institutions mention a dedication to issues of access broadly, these programs did not prioritize Latino/a students but certainly included and benefited them.