Mount Mary achieves federal status as Hispanic-Serving Institution

Designation based on enrollment, responsiveness to region’s growing Hispanic populationlatinx-students-at-a-glance.png

Click here to read this announcement in Spanish.

With one in four undergraduate students at Mount Mary identifying themselves as Hispanic, Mount Mary University has become one of only two colleges in Wisconsin to be designated by the federal government as a Hispanic-Serving Institution.

Between 2014 and 2018, Mount Mary’s Hispanic population steadily increased from 15 to 25 percent. Additionally, in fall 2019, approximately 50 percent of new incoming students identified as Hispanic.

This classification by the U.S. Department of Education is based upon an institution’s ability to attract and serve at least 25 percent Latinx students. It provides access to Title V federal grants, as well as funding from other agencies such as the National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

These funds have myriad applications, including educational materials and lab equipment, enhancements to instructional facilities, academic tutoring and support services, faculty development and endowment growth.

This designation also continues to put Mount Mary and Milwaukee on the map in terms of opportunities for upward mobility.

Milwaukee’s growing Latinx population has increased 213 percent between 1990 and 2014, according to a study commissioned by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation in 2016. Alverno College, Wisconsin’s other HSI, received HSI designation in 2017.

“Supporting our growing Latinx population is a regional imperative,” said Mount Mary President Christine Pharr, Ph.D. “Through the learning community that we are building at Mount Mary, we are putting into place our vision for the greater community of Milwaukee, one that is supportive, welcoming and celebrates the richness of diversity.” Latinx Population

Mount Mary provides extensive institutional support to first-generation and low-income students in particular, and is currently utilizing $8.4 million in funding from federal agencies and national organizations to support student persistence and retention.

In addition, Mount Mary’s Latinx Task Force has been in place for four years to identify and facilitate changes to make the campus more welcoming, from translating web pages and admissions materials into Spanish, to customizing tours and visit experiences for Spanish-speaking families.

 With one in four undergraduate students at Mount Mary identifying themselves as Hispanic, Mount Mary University has become one of only two colleges in Wisconsin to be designated by the federal government as a Hispanic-Serving Institution.  “Our success suggests that Mount Mary's academic commitment to the Hispanic community is ongoing and growing,” said Jason Meyler, assistant professor and chair of the World Languages Department. "My expectations are that we will continue to open our doors to communities of diverse backgrounds; we will continue to educate our students with a strong and evolving sense of social justice; and that MMU will continue to play a pivotal role in ensuring equity for our Latinx community as well as any other community with whom we engage." 

Latinx Athletics

In January 2019, Mount Mary University helped form the Hispanic Serving Institution Network of Wisconsin (HSI-NOW), a coalition focused on expanding opportunities for diverse students. The group currently includes Mount Mary University, Alverno College, Marquette University, Milwaukee Area Technical College, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Parkside, Gateway Technical College, Carroll College and Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. 

“We know that the Hispanic population is a vital part of our region's workforce, but Hispanics are underrepresented in high-wage occupations,” said Kim Schultz, interim executive director at Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee. “We need to close a large educational attainment gap in order for Hispanics to have the credentials and skills needed to access those high-wage roles.“Mount Mary is proud to be part of a larger community effort to attract Latinx students to the region, support them throughout their studies, and ‘lift all boats,’ so to speak,” said Gabriela Barbosa, chair of Mount Mary’s Latinx Task Force.

Latinx Graduate students

“By achieving the HSI designation, Mount Mary University is showing their commitment to opening doors for Hispanic students and helping them to achieve success,” Schultz said.

Mount Mary has the highest ethnic diversity index in the Midwest, alongside Robert Morris University in Illinois, according to the 2020 Best Colleges Report by U.S. News and World Report. In the category of social mobility, Mount Mary was the top-rated private institution in Wisconsin and #33 among colleges in the Midwest.