Hispanic Heritage Month: UCI as a Latinx Thriving University

Dear Campus Community,

Hispanic Heritage Month is an occasion to recognize the many achievements of the diverse Latinx community. This year’s observance is mixed with joy and sadness. Death and sickness have visited far too many families while the economic fallout has disrupted countless lives. As the campus carefully begins reopening for the start of the new academic year, let us acknowledge the Latinx employees who are engaged in the essential and honorable work of advancing UCI’s core mission in Irvine and Orange.

The present context underscores UCI’s aspiration to be the nation’s leading Latinx Thriving University. This aspiration emerged out of the Bright Past. Brilliant Future. Strategic Plan in 2015, while an administrative taskforce in 2016 assessed campus readiness to secure federal designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). The resulting report UCI as a Latinx Thriving University in 2016 outlined three inter-related pillars to realize this aspiration.

UCI will:

  • Serve as a pathway to the American Dream.
  • Deploy our mission to promote Latinx intellectual and cultural capital.
  • Transform the professoriate and knowledge workforce of the future.

Below are highlights.

Pathway to the American Dream

For the second year in a row, UCI received more applications for fall admissions from California Latinx high school students than any campus in the University of California. This demand reflects the impressive enrollment growth over the past decade. Between 2008 and 2018, Latinx undergraduate enrollment doubled from 13% to 26%. Based on the 2019 UC Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES), a majority of Latinx students reported UCI was their first choice and that their education was worth it. Latinx student- and staff-led programs play an indispensable role in ensuring UCI as a pathway to the American Dream. These programs range from La Bienvenida (or Welcome), the celebration of Latino Excellence and Achievement in Graduate Education (LEAD), the newly founded Latinx Resource Center, to the UCI Latino Alumni Chapter.

Promoting Latinx Cultural and Intellectual Capital

During the 2019-20 academic year, several Latinx faculty and administrators earned recognition for contributions to their fields and disciplines as well as the campus and county.

  • Anita Casavantes Bradford, Associate Professor of Chicano/Latino Studies and History, was awarded the Distinguished Faculty Award for Mentoring from the Academic Senate based on piloting and leading the First-Generation Initiative. A model for the entire University of California, this initiative matches first generation faculty with first generation undergraduates to help promote student success.
  • Ron Cortez, Chief Financial Officer and Vice Chancellor, Division of Finance and Administration, was recognized by the Orange County Business Journal as the 2020 Chief Financial Officer of the Year.
  • Laura Enriquez, Associate Professor of Chicano/Latino Studies and Sociology, received the Distinguished Early-Career Faculty Award for Research for advancing understanding about the educational, political, and social experiences of undocumented young adults and members of mixed-status families.
  • Maria Rendon, Associate Professor of Regional and Urban Planning, received the 2020 Robert E. Park Award for Best Book from the Community and Urban Section of the American Sociological Association for Stagnate Dreamers: How the Inner City Shapes the Integration of Second Generation Latinos.
  • Nancy Rodriguez, Professor of Criminology, Law and Society, received a $2.7 million grant from Arnold Ventures to conduct the most comprehensive study to date into sources and consequences of prison violence in seven states. Findings from this three-year, multi-strategy investigation will be used to create an evidence-based framework for reducing and preventing incidents of violence.
  • Hector Tobar, Associate Professor of English and Literary Journalism and Chicano/Latino Studies, was named a 2020-21 Radcliff Fellow by the Radcliff Institute Fellowship Program at Harvard University. Tobar is among 42 fellows representing 42 countries, chosen from a pool of nearly 1,400 applicants.

Transforming the Professoriate and Knowledge Work of the Future

  • Record Number of New Faculty – The campus welcomed the largest number of new Latinx faculty in a single year. The nine faculty will join the Schools of Biological Sciences, Education, Medicine, Physical Sciences, Social Ecology, and Social Sciences. Among the new faculty, is Distinguished Professor Edward Telles (Sociology), a leading scholar of race, ethnicity and immigration. His appointment increases the number of Latinx Distinguished Professors to six. In recognition of their exceptional contributions to inclusive excellence, Professors Gustavo Carlo (Education) and Carolina Valdivia (Criminology, Law and Society) received the UCI Chancellor’s Inclusive Excellence Award. This fall, the School of Humanities will launch a multi-year cluster hiring program with a focus on the histories, cultures and literatures of Mexico/Latin America.
  • Continued Graduate Enrollment Growth – UCI had 93 new Latinx graduate students enroll in doctoral programs across the 15 academic schools. These talented graduate students reflect a 14% increase in enrollments from last year, and the third consecutive year of growth. The School of Social Sciences will begin the Enhancing Diversity and Equitable Inclusion Academy. Funded by a five-year $349,000 grant from the UC Hispanic Serving Institution Doctoral Diversity Initiative, the academy’s curriculum will provide participating graduate students with enhanced strategies and career resources for success while promoting a thriving culture across graduate programs.
  • Supporting the Future of STEM at UCI through the Gutierrez Family STEM Fellowship – Inspired by UCI’s designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution in 2017, Arnold and Esther Gutierrez established a fellowship for under-represented undergraduates in STEM. “A lot of my dreams came true thanks to my education,” Dr. Gutierrez said. “I have an appreciation for UCI and a recognition that the institution is making the best effort to help underrepresented populations.” Gutierrez graduated from UCI in 1990 with a Ph.D. Organic Chemistry. In 1992, he began a 15-year career at Gilead Sciences Inc. There he co-led a research group that developed and implemented the full-scale manufacturing process for two drugs, which were later formulated to become Truvada, a single medicine that treats HIV infection and reduces the risks of HIV infection.

Please visit the Office of Inclusive Excellence to learn more about events and programs.

#ActforInclusion

Douglas M. Haynes, Ph.D. (Pronouns: he/him/his)
Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Chief Diversity Officer
Director, ADVANCE Program
Professor of History, Humanities