Alverno College met the enrollment criteria to be considered a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education, a national designation that provides access to federal grants and scholarships to not-for-profit institutions of higher learning that serve a significant population of Hispanic students. Alverno is the first HSI-designated institution in Wisconsin, one of only 14 in the Midwest and one of only 276 in the United States.
To be designated an HSI member, which is part of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), 25 percent of an institution’s total undergraduate full-time equivalent enrollment must be Hispanic. Alverno’s fall 2017 total enrollment of Hispanic students was 27 percent.
“This federal designation validates all that we celebrate most about Alverno College – the richness of our diverse student body and the intentional way in which we seek to build and support our campus community so that it may authentically reflect the world in which we live,” said Dr. Andrea Lee, IHM, president of Alverno. “Alverno’s Latina students and other students of color are among the future leaders of Milwaukee, our region and beyond. As we recognize and embrace our designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, we celebrate in a special way the contributions of Latina students to our vibrant college and look forward to collaboration with other Hispanic-Serving Institutions to support the continued success and educational outcomes of all our students. Most important, we commit to remaining one of Wisconsin’s most ethnically diverse colleges.”
The designation aligns with Alverno’s mission of and commitment to educating an ethnically diverse population of undergraduate women, integral to the college’s success for 130 years. In fall 2013, the percentage of Alverno’s full-time, degree-seeking undergraduate Hispanic students was 19 percent. In fall 2011, it was 16 percent.
According to data from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, 10.2 percent of metropolitan Milwaukee’s population in 2014 was Latino, an increase of 213.3 percent from 3.6 percent of the population in 1990.
The designation not only allows the college to apply for new federal grants, but it benefits all Alverno students. A student does not need to be Latina/o to apply for a HACU scholarship. HACU scholarships are for all students attending a HACU institution. Federal agencies that provide grants and scholarships to students at HACU institutions include the departments of Agriculture, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Students can use these funds for scholarly opportunities like student travel, study abroad and internships.
“This designation greatly enhances our ability to carry out our mission of preparing women for personal and professional distinction and meaningful engagement with the world,” said Jennifer Flamboe, Ph.D., chair of Alverno’s World Languages department, director of the college’s Healthcare Interpretation Program and a nationally certified healthcare interpreter. “Knowing the Milwaukee Latino community well and having worked closely with Hispanic youth and adults for many years, I am proud to be affiliated with an institution that has such an inclusive infrastructure for supporting these and all of our students.”
Ruth Lopez de Arenas will serve as Alverno’s coordinator of Hispanic outreach and success. An Alverno alumna, she will work to strengthen partnerships with community organizations and prospective students and their families, as well as lead efforts to ensure the academic success of current students. Lopez de Arenas has served as an undergraduate admissions counselor for the college since 2016.
In addition to Alverno’s Hispanic student population, 14 percent identify as Black or African American, 5 percent identify as Asian and 4 percent identify as two or more races. Sixty-eight percent of undergraduate students who started at the college in the fall 2017 semester are first-generation college students.
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