SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Salt Lake City Community College, the largest community college in Utah and an emerging Hispanic Serving Institution (eHSI), has appointed its first Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives Director, according to a press release.

Tranquilino “Kino” Hurtado has been appointed as Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives Director in order to prepare the school to become an official HSI.

An HSI is a federal designation given to schools with at least 25% of their student body comprised of Hispanic students. SLCC reported in Fall 2022 that 21% of degree-seeking students identified as Hispanic/Latinx. In addition to the high percentage of Hispanic students, the college has seen a 126% growth in Hispanic/Latinx enrollment since 2005, according to the release.

“It is not a matter of if we become an HSI, rather it is a matter of when,” Hurtado said.

The Hispanic/Latinx community is the fastest-growing minority in Utah and is going to college at higher rates than in the past, the release said.

While some may misunderstand the HSI designation to mean that the school will focus its efforts on one population at the expense of others, Hurtado said that will not be the case.

“The programs we create on behalf of Hispanic students extend to all students. These programs can serve as a working model, paving the path for similar programs for other minoritized students,” Hurtado said.

Not only will the programs benefit all students, but being a part of a diverse student body is beneficial for job applications, Hurtado said. Through his research and experience, Hurtado has found that employers look for graduates with multicultural experience and understanding. The new director believes that the HSI designation therefore will not only bring in funding for new programs but can help students obtain jobs in the future.

Hurtado has a doctorate in education leadership and policy from the University of Utah and has worked at SLCC since March 2021. He previously helped create a program that assists underserved students in the transition from high school to college, the release said.

“The HSI designation is a promise to current and future students and it will attract students and help them find success here—we need to make sure that when they come here, the promise is real.”