Data: University sees increase of Latinx undergraduate, graduate representation; faculty lags behind

by Michael Cline, Assistant News Editor

San Diego State has seen a double-digit increase in the percentage of Latinx undergraduate and graduate students over the last 15 years, according to data from the university’s Analytic Studies & Institutional Research.

The same department also shows a modest increase in Latinx tenured and tenure-track faculty in the past five years, although representation remains less than 10% among all university faculty.

The increase comes as the university launched a Latinx Resource Center earlier this semester and established a Hispanic Serving Institution Affairs under the Division of Diversity and Innovation to examine the university’s responsibility in meeting its goals of enrolling and enhancing the outcomes and educational opportunities of Latinx students.

The Analytic Studies & Institutional Research dataset, which lists enrollment data by ethnicity dating back to fall 2004, shows Latinx representation for undergraduate students was 20% during that semester. 

Latinx students today represent more than 30% of the university’s undergraduate student population.

The university currently meets the requirements — as defined in the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act that reauthorized the Higher Education Act of 1965 — of being a Hispanic-serving institution, because more than a quarter of its students are from a Latinx background.

SDSU was first designated a Hispanic-serving institution by the Department of Education in 2012. The designation provides the university with access to additional grants and scholarships.

For graduate students from a Latinx background, enrollment increased from 13.8% in fall 2004 to over 27% in the spring 2020 semester.

Data from Analytic Studies & Institutional Research also shows undergraduate enrollment at SDSU’s Imperial Valley campus is predominantly from a Latinx background — more than 91% in fall 2019. 

But headcounts of tenured and tenure-track faculty show Latinx staff make up fewer than 10% of the university’s staff.

The Analytic Studies & Institutional Research dataset for tenured and tenure-track faculty only dates back to the fall 2016 semester, when 8.7% of university faculty members, 69 in total, came from a Latinx background. 

In spring 2020 terms, the number of Latinx faculty increased by just 10, equalling 9.4% of all faculty members.

The Daily Aztec could not find data on Imperial Valley campus faculty demographics.

Although 2020 Census data has yet to be collected and published, 2018 estimates of California’s demography show the Latinx population to be 39.3% of the state’s nearly 40 million residents. 

SDSU President Adela de la Torre convened a task force in spring 2019 to examine the university’s role as a Hispanic-serving institution, as well as gather findings and recommendations on how the school could better serve the population.

The task force examined the university’s demographic and financial data and surveyed faculty, staff and students on their experiences on campus.

A report released by the task force in February detailed six recommendations for the university to better serve the population. 

  • Expanded Support for Employee Resource Groups
  • Clear Communication of Hispanic-Serving-Institution Identity
  • Professional Learning on Latinx Issues
  • Enhanced Recruitment and Retention Efforts for Latinx Faculty and Staff
  • Leverage Accessible Hispanic Serving Institution Research Funds
  • Leadership in Meso-American and Transborder Studies

Chair of Hispanic Serving Institution Affairs Dr. Roberto Hernandez will present the task force’s full recommendations in a virtual town hall on April 22.

Editor’s note: The Daily Aztec’s use of the term “Latinx” was chosen in line with language used across many university programs in reference to people of Latin American descent. The term is not gendered in an effort to be inclusive of all identities that fall under this ethnicity.