A Critical Look at Perspectives of Access and Mission at High Latinx-Enrolling Urban Universities

  • Desiree D. Zerquera University of San Francisco
  • Tracy Arámbula Ballysingh University of Vermont
  • Emerald Templeton University of San Francisco
Keywords: access; leadership; higher education; mission management



This article examines administrators’ perspectives related to embracing and fulfilling a diversity- and access-centered mission at urban-serving universities with high Latinx enrollment. Considering today’s context of higher education—whereby access and opportunities for Latinx and other marginalized populations has become increasingly stratified—this timely work seeks to foster dialogue regarding how to best uphold an access-centered mission. To achieve this, we framed the study using a critical lens that defines leadership for access as a leadership model that must focus on transformation for the greater good. Our critical lens also critically interrogates the meaning and implementation of “diversity” agendas on America’s college campuses. Organizational sensemaking offers an analytical frame to situate administrators’ accounts and trigger sensemaking processes, particularly with respect to identity and enactment of the environment. The study analyzes interviews with 21 administrators across four urban campuses within the same state and examines the administrators’ commitment to and fulfillment of an access- and diversity-centered mission. The study categorizes the administrators’ perspectives into three key areas: 1) diversity as an assumed identity as a by-product of situation within a diverse region; 2) diversity as a double-edged sword; and 3) enactment of a diversity- and access-centered mission.