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"As the compositional diversity of colleges and universities changes, the ways we educate and serve students must also shift. Administrators, faculty, and staff must commit to transforming the institutional structures for serving in order to enhance the educational experiences and outcomes of all students. This is what I write about, speak about, and work with colleges and universities to do."

-Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

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Dr. Gina Ann Garcia is a leading scholar on Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), which are colleges and universities that enroll at least 25% Latinx undergraduate students. She is also an associate professor in the Department of Administrative and Policy Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, specializing in Higher Education and Student Affairs. She is a scholar activist committed to disrupting the status quo of postsecondary education by bringing attention to the ways higher education has historically been committed to whiteness and regularly reinforces white narratives and white standards. Connecting critical and organizational theory, Dr. Garcia’s research centers Latinxs and HSIs, and is guided by the principles of equity and justice.


Dr. Garcia’s work has been recognized by major organizations and foundations. She was the recipient of a Ford Foundation postdoctoral fellowships in 2016 and a National Academy of Education/Spencer postdoctoral fellowship in 2017. In spring 2018, she received the Early Career Scholar Award from the American Educational Research Association’s Hispanic Research Issues SIG and in fall 2018 she was the recipient of the Association for the Study of Higher Education’s Council for Ethnic Participation’s Mildred García Award for Exemplary Scholarship (Junior). Notably, she is also the author of Becoming Hispanic-Serving Institutions: Opportunities for Colleges & Universities, published by Johns Hopkins University Press (2019).

Dr. Garcia is a public scholar, committed to advocating with and for HSIs, and with the goal of transforming colleges and universities that enroll the most compositionally diverse students. She delivers public lectures that motivate people to think critically about the role and function of colleges and universities, offers training and workshops to help faculty, staff, and administrators address their institutional practices and approaches to serving Latinxs and other minoritized students, and offers consultations for HSIs that are committed to transforming their institutions.      


As a former student affairs practitioner, Dr. Garcia draws on her own experiences to guide her research and practice. She was the coordinator of a Department of Education Developing HSIs Title V grant at California State University, Fullerton, where she developed retention initiatives for students in science, math, and engineering. She also held a position funded by a National Science Foundation grant, working with community college transfer students who wanted to major in science and math. She graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a Ph.D. in higher education and organizational change, and from the University of Maryland, College Park with a master’s degree in college student personnel. Dr. Garcia is the product of an HSI, California State University, Northridge, and is motivated by her own experiences taking Chicanx Studies courses, as a resident assistant working in residence life, and as a sister of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc.  




Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) are defined by the federal government as not-for-profit, degree granting colleges and universities that enroll at least 25% Latinx students. But beyond the federal definition, there is uncertainty about what it means to serve Latinx students, particularly as HSIs are enrollment driven institutions that lack an historical mission to serve Latinxs. While some argue that equitable graduation rates are evidence of effectively serving Latinxs, others say that HSIs must provide a culturally enhancing educational experience. Dr. Garcia contends that both are important, and complicates this argument in the book.

Becoming Hispanic-Serving Institutions is about three HSIs in Chicago, Illinois. The three are similar in that they are all four-year institutions that meet the eligibility requirement to become HSIs, yet they are extremely different: one is public, two are private; one is medium size, two are small; one enrolls less than 30% Latinxs, one enrolls over 80%; one was established as an English-Spanish bilingual institution; one was established over 100 years ago and enrolled white students for a majority of its existence. Dr. Garcia first argues that HSIs are racialized institutions, stating that they are often compared to racially white institutions, and evaluated for effectiveness within a system that values racially white norms and measures.

Using empirical data, Dr. Garcia highlights the three cases, suggesting that what it means to be an HSI is more complex than those racially white measures. The stories are written in narratives, centering the voices of the faculty, staff, and students within each of the three institutions. In conclusion, Dr. Garcia makes recommendations for research, practice, and policy.


The book is intended for higher education scholars and practitioners. It comes at an important time in history, as the number of colleges and universities eligible for HSI status increases every year. Yet there is a need to understand the opportunities and challenges of becoming an HSI, which the book offers.