Oscar Dubón chairs UC Berkeley’s Hispanic-Serving Institution task force

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Oscar Dubón, the UC Berkeley vice chancellor for equity and inclusion, is chairing a task force this semester in an effort to become a Hispanic-Serving Institution, or HSI, in the next decade.

The task force was first appointed in September of last year. There are 27 members, which include undergraduate and graduate students, staff, faculty and administrators. The two co-chairs are Dubón and Kris Gutiérrez, professor of language, literacy and culture at the Graduate School of Education. 

“As the oldest and most established public four-year institution in the state, it is critical for UC-Berkeley to advance talent development among a greater share of students of color, especially those that have been underrepresented in the student population to date,” Dubón and Gutiérrez said in an email.

According to Dubón and Gutiérrez, the task force’s objective is to develop an outline to guide UC Berkeley to gain an HSI designation. The task force will present recommendations to Chancellor Carol Christ later this year.

The co-chairs added that HSIs are required to have at least 25 percent Latinx undergraduate full-time equivalent student enrollment, be an eligible public or private nonprofit institution of higher education, offer academic programs that are two years or longer that lead to a degree, be accredited by an agency or association recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and have a high enrollment of students in need.

Nick Araujo, a fourth-year student and Chicanx Latinx Student Development intern at the UC Berkeley Division of Equity and Inclusion, said UC Berkeley is the only UC that is not considered an HSI or is an emerging-HSI. He added that although enough Latinx students are accepted into UC Berkeley, only three out of 10 students choose to come.

“The question is how are we getting the students to come to our campus?” Araujo said. “Berkeley has a legacy of being harmfully rigorous and we don’t have enough resources to help the retention rates of underrepresented students … I know it seems as if it’s pursuing a quota, but it’s also an opportunity to redefine campus culture.”

Dubón and Gutiérrez said in an email that they are confident that the campus will be able to meet the requirements to gain HSI designation by 2027. They said in the email that UC Berkeley has already made important investments and development strategies through efforts that include the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the Division of Equity and Inclusion.

According to the two co-chairs, the initiative could potentially close equity gaps for all students. Gutiérrez added that “serving” in an HSI goes beyond the federal definition and that HSIs must create structures to support the academic and non-academic development of Latinx students.

“The Chancellor and the task force can foster leadership and decision-making efforts that will serve and support Latinx populations both within and beyond the institution,” Gutiérrez said in the email.

Thao Nguyen is a schools and communites reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @tnguyen_dc.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly attributed Nick Araujo as saying UC Berkeley is the only UC campus not considered a Hispanic-Serving Institution. In fact, Araujo said UC Berkeley is the only UC campus not considered a Hispanic-Serving Institution or emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution.