© 2022 Boise State Public Radio
NPR in Idaho
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Join us on July 7 for a community conversation on issues and ideas from the Magic Valley Latino/a community.

College Of Southern Idaho Becomes State’s First Hispanic-Serving Institution

College of Southern Idaho
College of Southern Idaho

The College of Southern Idaho in the Magic Valley recently became the state’s first Hispanic-Serving Institution.

The designation comes from the U.S. Department of Education and it means at least a quarter of full-time students enrolled at a higher-education institute are Hispanic. About 26% of students at CSI are Hispanic.

“We’ve got a growing Hispanic population in the Magic Valley,” said CSI President Dean Fisher. “We’re pleased they’re seeking to enroll at the College of Southern Idaho and very pleased that we can serve them.”

The classification allows CSI to apply for more federal grants that can help it better serve its Hispanic students, but also the whole student body.

CSI has been on the path to becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution for a while. Chris Bragg, Dean of Institutional Effectiveness and Communication, said the increase in the number of Hispanic students at the college has largely mirrored the overall growth in the Magic Valley.

According to the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs 2021 data profile, south-central Idaho is 25% Hispanic, making it the region with the highest proportion of Hispanic residents in the state.

In 2014, CSI’s student population was about 20% Hispanic, Bragg said.

Margie Gonzalez, the executive director of the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, said some prospective students are likely introduced to CSI during the state’s largest Hispanic youth leadership conference, which has been held on the Twin Falls campus for the past few years.

“I think that’s also helped students look at themselves on the campus and it’s been very encouraging,” Gonzalez said.

Though the college’s language of instruction is English, Gonzalez and Fisher said it’s made an effort to make materials, including admission, enrollment and other outreach information, available in Spanish. That’s helpful for families, Gonzalez said. Similarly, several college divisions have Spanish-speaking staff.

After CSI, College of Western Idaho and College of Eastern Idaho have the highest proportion of Hispanic students among higher education institutions, according to the Commission on Hispanic Affairs.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio