$1M gift to advance LatinX Studies at UMass Boston

(From left) Diane and Robert Hildreth sign their $1 million commitment to UMass Boston’s Gastón Institute with Interim Chancellor Katherine Newman.

A signing ceremony and panel discussion was held at UMass Boston on Monday to mark a $1 million donation to the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy from Robert and Diane Hildreth, who were honored for their commitment to UMass Boston and to advancing Latinx student college success.

“Robert Hildreth’s commitment to the lives and futures of LatinX students and community members knows no parallel in Boston,” said UMass Boston Interim Chancellor Katherine Newman.  “His remarkable gift will ensure that the Gastón Institute can continue to contribute insightful research on the issues that matter in the Hispanic community…”

The institute focuses on research and policy in Latinx communities. Since 1989, the Gastón Institute was created by the Massachusetts Legislature in response to a need of understanding about Latino experience in the commonwealth.

In it’s 30th year, the Gastón Institute continues its mission of informing the public and policymakers about issues that are critical to the growing Latino community.

“The Gastón Institute is proud and truly grateful for this remarkable investment and commitment to support Latino students, one of our nation’s most underserved populations,” said Lorna Rivera, director of the Gastón Institute and associate professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Latino Studies at UMass Boston.

The Gastón Institute recently projected that by 2035 the Latinx population in Massachusetts will grow to over 1.15 million and represent more than 15 percent of the population.

In 2017, 19.5 percent of all newly enrolled full-time students at the University of Massachusetts Boston were Latino, and the university is close to reaching the 25 percent benchmark for becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution soon.

“With this generous gift from Robert and Diane Hildreth, the Gastón Institute will further expand our Latino Student Success Initiatives,” Rivera said, “and ensure that UMass Boston will soon become the leading four-year public Hispanic-serving institution in New England.”