A community college Hispanic-serving institution: The effect of an HSI designation on organizational identity

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Carter, Todd L.
Patterson, Jean A.

Most community colleges receiving the Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) designation have no specific mission to serve Hispanic students. A lack of attention to assisting organizational members with what Hispanic-serving means can lead to confusion and members hanging on to previous organizational identities and practices. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore how receiving an HSI designation affects the identity and practices of a community college. A social constructionist view of organizational identity theory was used to examine administrator, faculty, and staff perceptions of organizational identity and transition to an HSI. Study participants included eight administrators, eight faculty, and seven staff from a Midwestern community college HSI. Some participants were present before and during the time the college received the HSI designation while others were employed after receiving the designation. Ten years of institutional documents covering the HSI transition period and 40 individual interviews were analyzed for common identity themes and indicators of a commitment to serving Hispanic students. The organizational identity labels emphasized a caring atmosphere, recognition as a quality institution, financial stability, being student-centered, and serving a diverse student population. Participants attributed no meaning to the HSI designation; however, the identity labels did have meanings associated with being Hispanic-serving. A "serving all students" ideology and the current political climate toward immigration, affirmative action, and public education were barriers to adopting an HSI identity. Researchers should consider unplanned organizational identity change when investigating development patterns in HSIs.

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Thesis (Ed.D.)-- Wichita State University, College of Education, Dept. of Counseling, Educational Leadership, Educational and School Psychology