Invited Speaker Presentations


Serving Latinx Students at a PWI through Strategic Prioritization, Equity-Minded Leadership, & Understanding Climate

Presenters: Jesse M. Bernal, Vice President for Inclusion and Equity & Executive Associate for Presidential Initiatives, Grand Valley State University

As a predominately white institution, Grand Valley State University has recognized both the moral and strategic imperatives to create a learning environment that both attracts and retains Latinx students. Data-driven efforts over the last decade have resulted in a 25% increase in Latinx student enrollment, with an 83% retention rate. Latinx graduation rates have increase over 16% in the last four years, making Grand Valley the third largest producer of baccalaureate degrees of Latinos in Michigan. The Latino Student Initiative, launched in 2010, as a university-wide strategic priority focuses on equity-minded strategies in leadership that clearly articulate an institutional focus and intentionality on practices that support Latinx students. In 2019, Grand Valley was among nine universities in the nation, and the only PWI, to receive Seal of Excelencia from Excelencia in Education.

About Jesse Bernal

Jesse M. Bernal, Ph.D. is the Vice President for Inclusion and Equity & Executive Associate for Presidential Initiatives at Grand Valley State University. Dr. Bernal joined Grand Valley in 2015 and oversees the university’s coordinated efforts to advance diversity and campus climate. The Division includes oversight of Civil Right compliance functions, including ADA, Title IX, and Affirmative Action, social justice education, and social justice student service centers including Disability Support, LGBT Center, Center for Women and Gender Equity, Multicultural Affairs, and Campus Interfaith Resources, as well as the Kaufman Interfaith Institute, a K-12 Pathways to College office, and community engagement and employee relations functions. In 2019, Dr. Bernal’s responsibilities were expanded to support strategy, engagement, and innovation for the Office of the President. Dr. Bernal is also an adjunct faculty member in the Adult and Higher Education Program graduate program. He serves on several local, state, and national organizations’ boards and committees, including Hispanic/Latino Commission of State of the Michigan, Grand Rapids Public Museum, West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, National Association of Chief Diversity Officers in Higher Education, among others. Prior to arriving at Grand Valley, Dr. Bernal served as a senior diversity officer at Santa Clara University and at the University of California Office of the President, as well as other academic and student affairs roles in the UC system. He received his Ph.D. from UC Santa Barbara, and continues his research on education policy and law, organizational climate, and inclusive hiring.


View the Full Program


About the Conference

The annual AHSIE Best Practices Conference provides practitioners from current and emerging Hispanic Serving Institutions a forum through which they can share ideas, build partnerships, and influence the development of policies designed to increase student success and institutional effectiveness.

Learn more


Session Types for Everyone

Session types for this year’s conference include: Featured Topic Institutes; High Impact Practices Presentations; Community of Practice Workshops; Special Topic Sessions with Invited Speakers; and Keynotes.

Learn more