Becoming a Recognized Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI): Institutional Culture & Title V

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Villarreal, Rebecca C.
Drezner, Noah D.
The purpose of this study was to understand the influence of institutional culture at an HSI on the Title V program. The findings highlight the forces that influence the process of securing, evaluating, and sustaining Title V grants. Drawing upon Kuh and Whitt (1988) and Tierney (1988; 2008), a single-site case study was constructed to explore all phases of a Title V grant cycle at a four-year public HSI. Data from 18 semi-structured interviews and over 20 institutional documents were used to investigate the institution and its Title V program utilizing the layers of institutional culture, such as external environment, mission, individual actors, and subcultures. While Kuh and Whitt (1988) and Tierney's (1988; 2008) frameworks capture most of the findings, several aspects of institutional culture emerged that were not fully integrated into either framework. Most notably, race and ethnicity was central to all aspects of institutional culture and were added as a crosscutting layer. Additionally, external forces such as state-level policy changes or clarification of accrediting agency regulations directly influenced various stages of the Title V program. The new frame for analyzing institutional culture at HSIs situates the institution and its individual actors within the surrounding region and illustrates how external forces influence the various layers. This study contributes to a growing body of research on HSIs and adds to our understanding of federal support for these institutions through Title V.