UNK joins national Hispanic university association

Contact: Juan Guzman, 308.865.8127, guzmanj@unk.edu
Writer: Kelly Bartling, 308.865.8455, bartlingkh@unk.edu

KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney is a new partner in the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. This association recognizes an institution’s commitment to provide a quality education to all students, particularly Hispanics. Membership will expand student opportunities in leadership and scholarship and will demonstrate to others UNK’s service to Hispanic students.

UNK is the first university in Nebraska to join the association. Chadron State College was the first partner member in Nebraska.

The HACU advocates for Hispanic-serving institutions and is a liaison in governmental relations, hosts special events for member organizations to learn more about access and quality of opportunities for Hispanic students, and shares resources, information and expertise with member colleges and universities. It positions itself as the “champion of Hispanic success in Higher education.” It was established in 1986.

Thousands of students from member institutions benefit from HACU with internships, scholarships, retention and advancement programs, pre-college support and career development opportunities and programs.

Juan Guzman, director of UNK’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, said the designation signals UNK’s commitment to diversity and its success attracting and serving increasing numbers of Latino students.

“The HACU membership shows we’re moving in the right direction and gives us opportunity to do more,” Guzman said. “The recognition demonstrates that we are an institution with best practices for our students in programs and academic support.

“This is an opportunity for our students to participate in leadership institutes, benefit from scholarships and have access to internships. They’re happy at the designation and to begin exploring those opportunities .”

UNK’s Hispanic student population (undergraduate and graduate) has grown from 87 students in fall 2000 to 517 in fall 2013. Guzman said UNK’s outreach to young Latino students and their families has grown, with conferences – such as the Nebraska Cultural Unity Conference — community visits, and campus visits. UNK has an active Hispanic Student Association that serves to celebrate the diversity and address the needs of the Hispanic, Chicano and Latino cultures and students on campus.

Membership in HACU is by invitation and levels are based on numbers of Hispanic students served. UNK obtained membership at the Partner Member level: less than 10 percent Hispanic; Associate Member, at least 10 percent Hispanic enrollment; and the highest level: Hispanic-Serving Institution, minimum of 25 percent of total enrollment.

Charles Bicak, senior vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, said the HACU recognition is an important step in national recognition and growth opportunities for UNK and its students.

“I am excited about our partner status and am indeed pleased with the good work that Juan and his staff continue to do with all students and in enhancing diversity across our campus,” Bicak said.