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Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies

Seton Hall University Joins Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU)

Wide shot of SHU campusIn a significant move to foster diversity and inclusivity, Seton Hall proudly announces its membership in the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). This decision aligns with the institution's commitment to becoming a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI). Interim Provost Erik Lillquist emphasized the University's dedication to continue creating a welcoming environment for all stakeholders, promoting our Catholic values in service of a diverse community of learners.

"Membership in HACU yields significant benefits for our Hispanic students and the University as a whole," said Erik Lillquist. "The association provides scholarships and internships for Hispanic students, advocates for them in Washington, D.C., and offers best practices on how Seton Hall can optimize their experience on campus."

The HSI initiative is crucial amid shifting demographic trends, with a rising number of underrepresented diverse students pursuing higher education. According to Hunt Institute data (source), more than 30% of the nation’s elementary and high school students will be Hispanic by the year 2030, and the University's strategy aims to recruit, retain, and graduate a larger proportion of these students, recognizing their contributions to campus diversity and overall excellence.

"Seton Hall was established in 1856 as a home for people who otherwise would have had no access to higher education. They were mostly immigrants or first-generation Americans — students who had the will to work hard and needed only an opportunity to learn and excel," said Katia Passerini, Ph.D., interim president of Seton Hall. "Membership in HACU adds a new dimension to our legacy of opening doors for deserving students."

Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) is a federal designation requiring institutions to enroll at least 25% Hispanic undergraduate students, with a significant proportion qualifying as low-income. Achieving HSI status makes institutions eligible for federal Title V funds. Becoming an HSI aligns with the University's mission of serving underrepresented and low-income students. Diversifying the campus enriches the educational experience and prepares students for a globally interconnected, multicultural society by fostering innovation, creativity and intercultural skills essential for addressing complex societal challenges. Moreover, increased diversity enhances employability, with employers seeking candidates with global knowledge and social responsibility. While federal funding opportunities arise with HSI status, the University's pursuit of diversity transcends financial incentives.

Our membership in HACU signifies our ongoing dedication to creating a campus community that reflects the richness of the world around us. "By embracing diversity, we foster innovation, creativity and intercultural skills, which are essential for addressing the complex challenges of our society," said VP of Student Life and DEI Committee Co-Chair, Monica Burnette.

Demographic projections indicate a rising share of students of color, particularly Hispanic students, on the east and west coasts of the country. This trend underscores the importance of proactive measures to engage and support diverse student populations. By embracing the HSI initiative, the University prepares for future educational landscapes while responding to local demographic shifts.

In recent years, the University has undertaken various measures, including the establishment of a University-wide DEI committee, enhanced community outreach, recruitment strategies, curricular enhancements and faculty diversification. There is a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Working Group that is being formed that will include representation from many divisions, schools and colleges across the University, and that will provide strategic guidance to university leaders on intentional efforts aim to increase Hispanic enrollment, support underrepresented students and create an inclusive campus climate.

The working group will be co-chaired by Ghana Hylton and Lori Tarke, Seton Hall leaders who deeply value the increasing diversity of our University community. Tarke observes, "As a leader for the working group, an American of Cuban heritage, and as the Executive Director of the Joseph A. Unanue Latino Institute, I am excited to bring together our collective Seton Halll University voice. We will work to weave the tapestry of our heritage into the fabric of our student body, faculty and staff. We will elevate our institution into a vibrant hub of Hispanic service, belonging and excellence in education."

As a HACU member, Seton Hall reaffirms its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. By leveraging the collective expertise of HACU and its member institutions, the University seeks to advance its HSI goals and foster a campus where all students feel valued and supported.

For further inquiries about the University's HSI initiative and membership in HACU, please contact Mary Kate Naatus, assistant provost.

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