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UNC Launching DEI and HSI Inventory to Inform Strategic Planning and Overall Readiness

Students sitting on bench on UNC campus

February 16, 2022

As part of continued work toward becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), the University of Northern Colorado’s HSI working group is launching a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and HSI inventory survey next week. 

The 17-question survey, which will be sent to all employees via email on Feb. 21, is an important tool for continued strategic planning efforts aligned with Rowing, Not Drifting 2030, and the university’s HSI plan.  

The purpose of the inventory is to assess UNC’s current and ongoing DEI efforts and strategies and evaluate HSI readiness across campus. The information collected will be used to create a centralized online database of DEI efforts, develop campus wide training and development opportunities, and identify areas that are essential to creating an environment where being a Hispanic Serving Institution can thrive.   

“This inventory is a crucial first step to provide all of us with a collective understanding of whether our existing policies, programs and practices are effectively serving our students, faculty and staff,” said Tobias Guzmán, vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “We expect this survey will help identify important work that is already taking place at UNC, and identify gaps that we can address. It is my sincere hope that all of our employees take the time to complete the survey as this information is critical to successfully creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone in our university community.” 

The survey will be open until March 14. Results will be presented and discussed during scheduled campus conversations slated for later this spring as the discovery phase of the HSI plan concludes. These conversations will also provide an opportunity for university community members to offer additional feedback about UNC’s HSI progress. Comments collected during these discussions, along with other information collected over the past two years, will inform the next pre-implementation phase of the HSI plan where the university will begin identifying specific working groups across campus to help refine and initiate strategies that align with our efforts to successfully serve our student population. 

Key Discovery Phase Updates 

UNC’s HSI initiative launched in the fall of 2020 with a series of conversations and information gathering sessions within the university community. Throughout the discovery phase, which began in summer 2021, the HSI working group has been focused on achieving several key milestones, including identifying resource needs, facilitating conversations and providing education about HSIs to a variety of internal and external stakeholders, researching exemplar HSI institutions and programs and identifying preliminary strategy metrics and budget needs. Progress achieved during the discovery phase includes the following: 

Aligning HSI key strategies to UNC’s strategic plan 

  • To better prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion goals across the university, including achieving the HSI designation, a division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was formed in fall 2021. Tobias Guzmán, Ed.D., who served as chief diversity officer and interim vice president of Student Affairs, was promoted to vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to oversee this critical work.  

Engaging UNC’s university community 

  • In consultation with the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness and the Social Research Lab, the HSI working group developed a DEI and HSI inventory survey to be distributed to all UNC employees. The survey utilizes thematic categories by examining the CUPA-HR DEI Maturity Index, current academic literature and research and nationwide exemplar practices.    
  • UNC’s DEI division hosted four HSI trainings through the university's UNITE series last fall and has eight more scheduled during the spring semester. More than 190 employees have taken HSI 101: Why Becoming a Hispanic-Serving Institution Matters, which provided information about federally designated HSIs and where UNC is in the process of becoming an HSI. The follow-up HSI 201: Becoming a Hispanic-Serving Institution – ‘Servingness’ in Practice sessions began in early February. There are opportunities to register for both training courses through the spring semester on the UNITE website.   
  • In mid-September the university launched a new HSI website, affirming our intention and progress toward achieving HSI designation. 
  • Latinx art, culture, language, and history took center stage during UNC’s Latinx Heritage Month, fostering discussions and conversations around Latinx heritage. Events included a performance by Afro-Indigenous poet Palaez Lopez, folkloric dancers, an exhibit by Chicano muralist Leo Tanguma and the El Movimiento: The Chicano Movement in Northern Colorado exhibit. 

Engaging community stakeholders 

  • UNC staff presented at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s 2021 Institute for Minority Serving Intuitions. Guzmán presented on Chief Diversity Officers and Minority Serving Officers and Chris Garcia, associate director of Alumni Relations presented a UNC case study on our courageous conversations on the shift to becoming Minority Serving institutions.  
  • Conducted interviews with Colorado media regarding UNC’s efforts to become an HSI. 
  • Co-hosted an event with key leaders in Denver regarding UNC's efforts to become an HSI. 

 Updating administrative procedures 

  • We have contracted with Diversity Jobs (now Circa) to post and share all of our open positions on over 600 diversity sites and 15,000 community organizations, and provided a $500 advertising budget for units on campus to use for paid job placement ads.  
  • The university has developed an implicit bias training for all search committee members that is currently being piloted and will be required effective April 1, 2022. 
UNC's HSI Initiative

The U.S. Department of Education defines an HSI as an institution of higher education with an undergraduate full-time equivalent enrollment of at least 25% Hispanic students. That’s a benchmark the university will likely meet soon as 24.3% of UNC’s undergraduate population identified as Latinx/Hispanic in fall 2021. But UNC's measure of a successful HSI is far more encompassing than enrolling more Hispanic/Latinx-identifying students. The university is focused on identifying strategies that serve our growing Latinx/Hispanic population in a manner that nurtures their sense of belonging and provides them the tools to thrive during their educational journey. Read more about our efforts on our HSI website

— written by Deanna Herbert

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