UCLA’s Latinx Welcome fosters communityAcademicFaculty and StaffStudents
Afternoon sunlight flooded Wilson Plaza as students, faculty and staff wandered in. Accompanied by the sounds of Mariachi de Uclatlán, just about everyone at the 2022 UCLA Latinx Welcome was moving to the music as they lined up for tacos, horchata and dessert. All around the quad, familiar faces embraced and new faces mingled. Creating this type of environment was a big reason behind the event, which was meant to foster a sense of community for Latino students, faculty and staff.
The UCLA Latinx Welcome “Sembrando Comunidad,” which was held Oct. 4, featured several speakers, including Chancellor Gene Block, Dean Adriana Galván, a professor of psychology and the dean of undergraduate education in the UCLA College, and others. The event wasn’t merely a celebration. It was also a part of UCLA’s efforts to earn the designation of Hispanic-Serving Institution, or HSI, by 2025.
“As a public university in California, it’s important that we represent the demographics of the state,” Block told the nearly 1,000 in attendance.
As a Hispanic-Serving Institution, UCLA would be eligible for a range of federal grants to bolster educational programs, research training and academic attainment for Latino, low-income and other underrepresented students. For UCLA to be designated an HSI, 25% of its students must identify as Latino and 35% of all undergraduates must be Pell Grant recipients.
“It’s not just about the number of students,” Block said. “It has to be really an embracing, supportive culture for all of our students and faculty. And in that effort over the last few years we’ve engaged a number of new programs, including programs for adding faculty and postdocs working on Latinx issues, hiring staff to support Latinx students’ success, and offering seed grants for scholarships tied to Latinx populations.”