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SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake Community College is taking steps to better serve its growing Hispanic student population by appointing Tranquilino "Kino" Hurtado as its first Hispanic-serving institution initiatives director.
The college is among a majority of Utah higher education institutions that are aiming to become a Hispanic-serving institution. The federal designation requires at least 25% of full-time students be Hispanic and opens the door for additional federal funding, typically for student success and retention.
SLCC's Hispanic enrollment outpaces other Utah colleges and universities, making it a likely candidate to become Utah's first Hispanic-serving institution. As of fall 2022, 21% of SLCC students were Hispanic. The college is currently the state's only emerging Hispanic-serving institution, which is defined as a college or university with 15-24.9%.
"It is not a matter of if we become an HSI, rather it is a matter of when," Hurtado said in a press release. "Now consider the Latinx population is headed to college at higher rates than ever, yet the equity gaps will continue to exist unless we adapt to the needs of this population. It is important for high school students to become college ready, but it is equally as important for colleges to become student ready."
Hurtado will coordinate the college's efforts to prepare for Hispanic-serving institution status, including both academic and nonacademic programs. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in education leadership and policy at the University of Utah and has helped SLCC create a summer bridge program to that has served historically underserved in the transition from high school to college.
"Kino's work experience and his Ph.D. pursuit will help keep the college current in best practices for becoming an HSI and continuing to build equitable and inclusive practices in higher education for all," said Juone Kadiri, vice president for institutional equity, inclusion and transformation. "We're really excited to have him on our team in this new role."
Hurtado said the college's Hispanic-serving institution-related efforts will benefit a variety of students, not just Hispanic students.
"These programs can serve as a working model, paving the path for similar programs for other minoritized students," he said, adding that students from all racial backgrounds benefit from a diverse environment. "It is essential that we take a hard look at the data and leverage this designation to improve academic and nonacademic outcomes for Hispanic/Latinx students. This means closing equity gaps for this population while still serving all other students at a high level."