The University of Central Florida has been designated as a "Hispanic-Serving Institution" by U.S. Department of Education officials, which allows it to compete for federal grants that would expand opportunities for Hispanic and low-income students.
To qualify as an HSI, an educational institution must have a minimum Hispanic enrollment of 25 percent. Federal officials confirmed last week that UCF's Hispanic enrollment among undergraduates is 27.5 percent of the student population, or more than 16,000 students. The percentage of Hispanic enrollment at UCF has climbed steadily since 2014, when slightly more than 21 percent of students identified as Hispanic or Latino.
UCF now joins multiple colleges and universities in Florida qualified as HSIs, such as Valencia College, Florida International University and Miami Dade College. More than 490 educational institutions in the U.S. are designated as HSIs.
"This designation is a recognition of who we are," UCF President Dale Whittaker says in a statement. "To UCF, being Hispanic-serving is about more than enrollment – it's about outcomes. We are proud of our growing diversity and even more proud of the impact it has on our university and Central Florida community."
Cyndia Morales Muñiz, UCF’s assistant director of Hispanic initiatives, will be taking the lead on submitting HSI grants with support from the UCF Office of Research. The university will hold two information sessions for the community to propose projects for consideration on Feb. 6 and Feb. 7, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on both days at the Barbara Ying Center in Room 140. Those who would like to be considered part of the submission team should email [email protected]
Morales Muñiz says some of the funding could be used to support recruitment and retention of Hispanic faculty; promote graduate education; and expand research and partnership opportunities in Latin America.
"We are excited about competing for these funds to enhance the great work that is already being done at UCF, but we are more excited about the large breadth of diversity in our student body that makes every UCF Knight better," Morales Muñiz says in a statement.