Pockets of Opportunity: An Analysis of Leadership at Two-Year Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs)
Anthony Hernandez

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Research Development Award

Award Year



University of Wisconsin-Madison

Primary Discipline

Given the rapid growth of Latinx college students with some predicting that by 2020 more than 20% of college students will be Latinx, there is a need to understand Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) especially open-access, two-year colleges. Latinx students disproportionately attend HSIs community colleges for a variety of reasons and their poor outcomes is of great concern given the impact on our future workforce. Understanding what leadership looks like at HSIs, how to fortify leadership at HSIs which can, ultimately, improve outcomes for Latinx students, a traditionally underrepresented, underserved minority group, contributes to our social goals of greater equity. A mixed-methods approach is used to investigate leadership at Hispanic-serving community colleges in the Southwest. A case-study approach and descriptive statistics are used to draw from multiple data sources to examine leadership, leadership styles and the impact of such leadership on stakeholders. This also study juxtaposes institutions situated in a socio-political context where no state funding exists for community colleges while the other institutions have a myriad of funding sources and qualitatively different socio-political context. This multi-state study furthers our understanding of challenges faced by leaders at Hispanic-Serving Institution community colleges and offers valuable evidence on how to improve student experiences, retention, graduation, and transition to post-secondary opportunities. The results illuminate the hidden elements of leadership that can make an HSIs successful and provide a new framework for quality that complements measures such as those offered by Aspen Institute, which influence the distribution of recognition and, at times, funding.
About Anthony Hernandez
Anthony Hernandez is a doctoral student with an abiding passion for improving educational opportunities for Latinx students. To that end, he has pursued a doctorate in educational policy at University of Wisconsin-Madison. At UW, he worked for three years at the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, a think tank studying college affordability. There he coordinated national surveys on basic needs insecurity. The first study included 70 community colleges; the second included 66 colleges, about half of which were two-year institutions. Those mixed-methods studies, covered in various media outlets including the New York Times and National Public Radio, raised awareness regarding material hardship in higher education. At UW, he served as Lead Evaluator at Wisconsin Evaluation Collaborative, where he led a two-year evaluation of the USDA's Summer Food Service Program. Before attending UW, at a four-year Hispanic-Serving Institution, he led a Title V grant partnership with a community college. Building a seamless pathway for students to transfer to a four-year college, he recognized that leadership issues significantly affect institutional achievements and student outcomes in ways rarely captured in mainstream literature and models. He completed studies of leadership at Harvard Business School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government that helped him learn to build teams and make people plans that contributed to organizational goals.

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