Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) status is a designation conferred by the US Department of Education (US DOE) upon institutions – at the institution’s request - at which 25 percent of undergraduate full-time equivalent students identify as Hispanic. Salem State currently serves an over 20 percent Hispanic* student population, and demographic trends indicate that its student population will be 25 percent Hispanic by the year 2025. Once this metric is met, Salem State intends to apply for the UsS DOE’s HSI designation.
Institutions designated as HSIs serve students of all backgrounds and belong to the larger group of Multicultural Serving Institutions (MSI). The HSI designation is a public affirmation that in addressing the needs and expectations of all students, the institution has made a commitment to intentionally and systematically including Hispanic students in its efforts.
Salem State is currently classified by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) as an emerging HSI based on its student demographics.
*We use the term “Hispanic” throughout this page because it reflects the official federal term for the designation we are pursuing. We realize, however, that the word “Hispanic” is not inclusive of all Latin American identities and experiences, nor does it account for the rich differences among them.
Throughout the university’s written materials, we use a variety of terms for different contexts, including Latino, Latina, Latine, Latinx, Afro-Latino, Afro-Latina, Afro-Latine, Afro-Latinx, and more specific references such as Dominican, Guatemalan and Puerto Rican. Part of becoming an HSI involves engaging in ongoing conversations about terminology and identity within our community. We look forward to continuing this dialogue.
A Focus on Servingness
Advancing the ability to serve all students well, and anticipating future needs in doing so, is a basic function of public higher education.
Salem State is proud of its diverse student population, 40 percent of which identify as students of color. Our focus on “servingness” means that we strive to ensure each student has the resources and support to explore their interests and passions, succeed academically, and grow as an individual. This commitment will continue to guide us as we approach HSI status.
By focusing on how to best support the needs of a growing Hispanic student population, Salem State will engage in best practices that support all students. To aid with these efforts, HSIs are able to apply for federal funding through Title III and Title V grants. These grants are open exclusively to officially designated HSIs to expand educational opportunities for Hispanic students, while enhancing academic offerings, programmatic quality, and institutional strength to the benefit of all students.
Producing equitable outcomes while increasing overall degree attainment is the top policy and performance priority for Salem State’s governing body, the Massachusetts Board and Department of Higher Education. Massachusetts BHE was the first state higher education authority in the U.S. to make equity the top statewide policy and performance objective for a public higher education system.
“Equity is more than simply creating a level playing field; it requires a concerted and intentional effort to remove barriers and obstacles that hinder the success of students that heretofore did not have these advantages.” – Massachusetts Board of Higher Education
Elisa Castillo, PhD, of Salem, will be the first to fill a new senior level role created by Salem State University to prepare the university to better serve students of color. Castillo has been named assistant vice president of Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and Minority Serving Institution (MSI) initiatives, a role she assumed in July of 2023. Read more on Dr. Castillo's new role.
Salem State’s inclusive excellence office is coordinating efforts, with the help of faculty fellows Professor Yvonne Ruiz (faculty fellow for HSI preparedness), graduate students and student employees.
Among efforts to pursue HSI status, Salem State community members have attended conferences hosted by the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institution Educators (AHSIE) and Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). Last academic year, students, faculty and staff came together to review best practices and create recommendations for how SSU can best serve our students, as we become an HSI-MSI.
Workshops and Resources
Learn more about some of the ways in which Salem State currently connects with its Hispanic communities.