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Research / H3ERC Research Initiative 

The HACU Hispanic Higher Education Research Collective (H3ERC)


The HACU Hispanic Higher Education Research Collective was launched in 2004 and received initial funding support from Education Testing Service (ETS).  Under the direction of HACU's Dr. Alex Ramirez, a small group of researchers met in San Antonio in March 2005 to develop a framework for needed research in Hispanic higher education.  Literature reviews were commissioned and produced to be presented at a series of meetings over the summer of 2006 at UCLA, the University of Texas in San Antonio, and ETS headquarters in Princeton, NJ. 

Additional funding was secured from the Lumina Foundation for two further workshops.  The first at the University of Houston, September 11-12, 2007, brought together fifteen researchers and practitioners to develop a set of research agenda around "Student success and engagement in and outside of classroom settings," "Transforming Institutions: making HSIs stellar teaching and learning communities," and "Graduate and undergraduate student success and engagement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields."  The second took place at Montclair State University (NJ) July 16-17, 2008, involving fourteen participants on the theme of "Recruiting, preparing, supporting, and retaining more Hispanics in the teaching profession, and ensuring that all teachers are appropriately prepared to teach Hispanic students in elementary and secondary schools."

The work product of the two workshops that did take place was summarized in "The H3ERC Research Agenda: Impacting education and changing lives through understanding."

During the summer of 2011, HACU's new Director of Policy Analysis and Information, Emily Calderón Galdeano, assumed responsibility for the Collective.  A gathering of researchers took place April 14, 2012, in Vancouver, BC, Canada, at the annual American Educational Research Association (AERA) meeting to update the research community on the project and to make plans for a summer 2012 meeting.  The National Latina/o Education Research, Policy and Practice Initiative meeting took place June 9-11, 2012 in San Antonio, TX, and drew fifty-three researchers and funders for a discussion of key issues in Hispanic higher education research. The H3ERC Research Agenda was presented, the original literature reviews from 2006-2007 were updated and an additional set of white papers and more extensive research projects were commissioned (see links below).

Presentations on the project were made at HACU's 26th Annual Conference in October 2012 and research projects were presented in workshops at HACU's 27th Annual Conference in October 2013. A co-edited book of the literature, topics and research identified through these meetings is in preparation.  The research collective continues to interact via social media.

HACU is grateful to the long-term support of the Lumina Foundation for this project.


The following goals were presented to the Lumina Foundation to guide the work of the project:

  1. Develop a "use-inspired" research agenda for Hispanic access and success in higher education for H3ERC building upon the earlier work.
  2. Garner input and support for the research agenda and H3ERC and explore partnerships with foundations, policy makers and agencies convening them with researchers, policy makers and practitioners to review and discuss the research framework and agenda.
  3. Provide the foundation for the NICHE (National Innovation Center for Hispanic Education) web portal by piloting collaborative online tools, resources and strategies for:
    1. Developing the research agenda;
    2. Building the research collaborative and within it learning communities of practice, partnerships of researchers, policy makers, practititioners and foundations;
    3. Sharing research, data, practices, policies, problems and solutions; and
    4. Promoting and supporting a culture of research and innovation.

The H3ERC Research Agenda (click here)

Literature Reviews

"Hispanics and Higher Education: An Overview of Research, Theory and Practice," Amaury Nora and Gloria Crisp (published 2009).

"Realizing the Potential of Hispanic-Serving Institutions: Multiple Dimensions of Institutional Diversity for Advancing Hispanic Higher Education," Sylvia Hurtado and Adriana Ruiz (updated July 2012).

"Charting a Course towards Hispanic Success in Science, Engineering and Mathematics," Rebecca Villarreal, Alberto F. Cabrera and Katherine A. Friedrich (updated July 2012).

"Overview of Hispanics in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology (STEM): K-16 Representation, Preparation and Participation," Gloria Crisp and Amaury Nora (updated July 2012).

"Hispanics in the Teaching Profession: Demographic Profile and Needed Research," Ana María Villegas (August 2007).

White Papers

"Undocumented Students in American Higher Education," Ryan Evely Gildersleeve and Susana Hernandez (July 2012).

"The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics," Susana Hernandez and Ryan Evely Gildersleeve (July 2012).

"Future research on Hispanic students: What have we yet to learn and What new and diverse perspectives are needed to examine Latino success in higher education?" Amaury Nora and Gloria Crisp (July 2012).

"Hispanic Student Participation and Success in Developmental Education," Amaury Nora and Gloria Crisp (July 2012).

"Hispanic Transfer in 2-year Hispanic-Serving Universities," Anne-Marie Nunez, Gloria Crisp and Diane Elizondo (July 2012).

"Hispanic-Serving Institutions in the U.S. Mainland and Puerto Rico: Organizational Characteristics, Institutional Financial Context, and Graduation Outcomes," Anne-Marie Nunez and Diane Elizondo (July 2012).

"The Latino/a Health Professions Pipeline: An Overview," Mayra Olivares-Urueta (July 2012).

"Lost Among the Data: A Review of Latino First Generation College Students," Nicole Alia Salis Reyes and Amaury Nora (July 2012).

"Leading the 21st Century Demographic: Multi Context Theory and Latina/o Leadership," Fernando Valle and Cristobal Rodriguez (July 2012).

Research Projects -- Initial findings were presented at the 2013 HACU Annual Conference in Chicago, IL. Below are the research abstracts, as these projects are still in progress and pursuing publication.

  • "Stigma Associated with Undocumented Immigrants' Unauthorized Status and its Impact on Higher Education Access," H. Kenny Nienhusser, Blanca E. Vega and Mariella Saavedra.
  • "A typology of Hispanic-Serving Institutions: Student, financial, and community contexts," Anne-Marie Nunez, Gloria Crisp and Diane Elizondo.

Although Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), institutions that enroll at least 25% Latino students, are increasing in numbers, research about these institutions remains limited. For example, research is inconclusive as to whether Latino students in HSIs have different outcomes from their counterparts in other institutions. One reason for this is that HSIs are diverse, including public and private 2-year and 4-year not-for-profit institutions. Furthermore, they have distinctive institutional characteristics from those typically emphasized in institutional typologies such as Carnegie classification system. To understand better the heterogeneity among HSIs based on their unique institutional qualities, this study developed a typology of HSIs that takes into account their distinctive structural, demographic, financial, and community context characteristics. Using cluster analysis to examine a census of U.S. mainland and Puerto Rican 2-year and 4-year HSIs in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we identified six types of HSIs. This typology provides a foundation for building a more institutionally relevant way of classifying HSIs and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs). It can inform future research about HSIs’ organizational identities and effects on student outcomes. Furthermore, this study’s findings can guide practices to examine HSIs’ peer institutions and institutional performance in more contextually appropriate ways.

  • "P-20 Latina/o-Centric Leadership Models in Education," Cristobal Rodriguez, Fernando Valle, Juan Gonzalez, Michelle Espino, Enrique Aleman, Ignacio Hernandez and Sabrina Zamora.

A Latina/o community-based and Latina/o-centric leadership framework is critical for the preparation and practice of current and future educational leaders across levels, contexts, and roles. It is critical to connect Latina/o student experiences and those of their communities and families to capture missed opportunities in P-20 educational environments. This work provides various forms of empirical evidence to inform and improve preparation, practice, and policy for the success of our Latino/a students across the P-20 pipeline.

H3ERC is an ongoing project.

Please join us in carrying forward this important work by giving us your input on:

  • improving and updating the research agenda
  • updating the literature reviews
  • providing access to the most current and relevant research, practice and policy impacting Hispanic higher education.


Dr. John Moder
COO and Senior Vice President