Media advisory: Forum to discuss growing number of Latino college students

Latino students on track to become largest ethnic group at Bay Area universities

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 2, 2014 -- Latino students are the fastest-growing college-going group in the Bay Area and could become the largest ethnic group at local universities by 2020. On Feb. 27, San Francisco State University's Cesar E. Chavez Institute will host a forum to discuss the implications and possibilities connected with this rising student population.

According to Belinda Reyes, associate professor of Latina/Latino studies and director of the Chavez Institute, access to college is improving among Latinos but retention and degree completion remain a concern. The forum will address major challenges to graduation among Latinos, which include college affordability, culturally appropriate student services, campus climates that do not encourage engagement and the lack of Latino representation among faculty, staff and administrators.

The forum will be attended by representatives from Bay Area universities (SF State, Sonoma State, San Jose State, CSU East Bay and UC Berkeley), as well as community colleges, K-12 institutions and nonprofits.

"The goal of the conference is to provide information and bring different perspectives to the conversation," Reyes said. "All of us have a stake in this, and we want to engage with everyone about what we can do as a community to improve Latino student outcomes."

Some local campuses have attained the designation of "Hispanic Serving Institutions" (HSI), meaning that 25 percent of the undergraduate student population identifies as Latino. This designation qualifies a campus to apply for federal funding to support Latino students' needs, another topic for the forum.

"We want to move the conversation beyond getting to the point of becoming HSIs to say, 'Now that we are there, what do we need to do to serve these students?'" Reyes said.

SF State was recently ranked 30th in the nation for awarding bachelor's degrees to Hispanics for the 2012-13 academic year in an annual survey conducted by Diverse Issues in Higher Education. Hispanic students made up 18 percent of the total number of the University's graduates receiving bachelor's degrees that year.


What: Latina/o Students in Higher Education: Identifying Critical Issues and New Possibilities for Bay Area Universities

When: Friday, Feb. 27, 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Where: San Francisco State University, Cesar Chavez Student Center



SF State is the only master's-level public university serving the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin. The University enrolls nearly 30,000 students each year and offers nationally acclaimed programs in a range of fields -- from creative writing, cinema, biology and history to broadcast and electronic communication arts, theatre arts and ethnic studies. The University's more than 228,000 graduates have contributed to the economic, cultural and civic fabric of San Francisco and beyond.