The U.S. Department of Education has named the University of California, Irvine a Hispanic-serving institution for 2017–18, meaning that fully one-quarter of undergraduates identify as Latino and that half of all students receive financial aid.
The designation builds on UC Irvine’s recognition earlier this year as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institution, demonstrating the university’s dedication to providing a world-class education to every qualified student.
HSI and AANAPISI are part of a federal program to help universities support first-generation and low-income students. They increase UC Irvine’s eligibility for funding and grants from the departments of Education, Agriculture and Housing and Urban Development that can be used for a variety of purposes: to boost financial aid and other student services, to purchase scientific and laboratory equipment, for faculty development and to improve classrooms.
“This milestone validates our commitment to diversity and aligns with our aspiration to be a national leader and global model of inclusive excellence,” said UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman. “This program enables UC Irvine to serve as an engine of social mobility for all Californians and empowers us to create a more brilliant future for everyone in the state.”
UC Irvine’s current Hispanic enrollment is 25.7 percent, double what it was a decade ago, and the campus received more Chicano/Latino freshman applications for the 2017–18 academic year (23,463) than any other UC school.
“Latino students represent some of California’s most talented and promising high school graduates, chiefly from Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties,” said Douglas Haynes, UC Irvine vice provost for academic equity, diversity and inclusion. “This impressive growth signifies the aspirations, dedication and achievement of Latino students, families and communities. We are a Hispanic-thriving institution, first and foremost.”
Besides the Hispanic portion, UC Irvine’s student population is 38.6 percent Asian, 14.1 percent Caucasian and 2.9 percent African American. Half of all undergraduates are the first in their families to attend college.
“As a public institution, our undergraduates reflect the community,” Haynes said. “When you see UC Irvine, you see California as it is today.”
A Hispanic-thriving campus
UC Irvine offers guidance and resources to high school students throughout the region, advising them on courses to take and assisting with the college application process.
One focus is Santa Ana, a predominantly Hispanic city, where the Anteater Academy — a college prep program and small learning community — has been established at Santa Ana Valley High School. Its graduates have been admitted to some of the nation’s elite universities — including UC Irvine — and are now pursuing careers in a wide range of professions, including law, medicine, engineering, computer science, economics, architecture and criminal justice.
On campus, UC Irvine invests in Hispanic student success through scholarships, internships, mentorships and leadership development via programs such as SAGE Scholars. And with its world-renowned faculty, the Department of Chicano/Latino Studies provides undergraduates with chances to examine the historical and contemporary experiences of Americans of Latin American origin.
UC Irvine also offers numerous access, support and enrichment programs for Hispanic students and is home to more than 25 Latino student organizations, ranging from Ballet Folklorico to the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science.
“I believe that UC Irvine is a Hispanic-thriving institution because there are so many opportunities and support systems to help us get connected on campus and succeed,” said Estrella Estrada, a senior in psychology and social behavior. “While at Santa Ana College, I was in the Transfer Mentor Program, which helped build my confidence that I could get into a UC school and would do well when I got here. Through my SAGE Scholars internship, I’ve built relationships and developed skills that are valuable for achieving my career goals after graduation.”
UCI is only the second member of the prestigious Association of American Universities — which includes the country’s leading research institutions — to have HSI status. The New York Times in 2015 ranked UC Irvine the No. 1 school in the nation for doing the most for low-income undergraduates