Lecture explores University’s Latino heritage

Allyson Brantley, assistant professor of history, lectures on the historical transformation of the University of La Verne on Tuesday in the Quay Davis Executive Board Room. She spoke about the divide between cultures in the local community before the college was founded. / photo by Litsy Tellez
Allyson Brantley, assistant professor of history, lectures on the historical transformation of the University of La Verne on Tuesday in the Quay Davis Executive Board Room. She spoke about the divide between cultures in the local community before the college was founded. / photo by Litsy Tellez

Ramon Morales
Staff Writer

Allyson Brantley delivered a presentation titled Which Roads Lead to an HSI? The Palomares Colonia, Demographic Shifts, & the Transformation of the University of La Verne before about 35 community members Nov. 26  in Quay Davis Executive Boardroom, with some joining on Zoom.

Brantley talked about how the University of La Verne became an HSI, or Hispanic Serving Institution. For HSI designation, more than 25% of the institution’s undergraduate student body must identify as Latino or Hispanic. 

She covered where the foundational roots started, and some of the discussion around the school since its beginnings. 

“As a historian I was interested in historicizing the process,” Brantley said. “How did we get from a Brethren institution founded in 1891 to this HSI institution today?”

Brantley explained the processes that allowed the University to become an HSI. From the relationship with the local Latino community, and how the institution has been shaped by regional and national demographic changes.

Brantley explained how it all started with the Palomares community, the original community here in the local area, when the citrus industry began booming in Southern California. The Citrus industry began to gain traction in La Verne and they were in need of workers. The skilled immigrant workforce of the local community is what created that initial connection with the institution.

Brantley talked about the local surrounding community and how the Hispanic and Latino community has evolved. It all began with the citrus workers, but now like much of Southern California, there is a large Hispanic population.

There were educators who were highlighted who taught at the Palomares School, and they were part of the community the entire time.

After explaining some of the history, like the population of Mexican immigrant workers, the evolution of the community through its educational process, and how there have been programs to help the school with the Hispanic community, Brantley explained how the University finally crossed that threshold to become an official HSI.

The school celebrated being an HSI in 2014.

“I remember saying we are a Hispanic Serving Institution, and we need to be loud and proud,” said University President Devorah Lieberman, who attended Brantley’s lecture. 

Lieberman said it is something for the University to be proud of. 

“There was always a conversation of us being an HSI, the language was here, even though it took us a long time to make it public,”  said Zandra Wagoner, University chaplain, who also was in the audience. 

Some in the community believe the University of La Verne crossed the needed threshold in 1992, others officially recognize it at different times, but it is clear that the University’s message is, that it is indeed an HSI, and that is something they should be proud of.

Ramon Morales can be reached at ramon.morales@laverne.edu.

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