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UC Merced Joins In Celebration of Hispanic-Serving Institutions

September 20, 2010

UC Merced Joins In Celebration of Hispanic-Serving Institutions

UC Merced is celebrating its
Hispanic Serving Institution(HSI) designation and recognizing the contributions of its Latino community as part of National HSI Week.

The week, which falls during Hispanic Heritage Month, goes from Sept. 19 through Sept. 25. The week serves as a time to recognize the importance of Hispanic-Serving Institutions, which help make higher education possible for Hispanic students, many of who are low-income and the first in their family to go to college.

UC Merced in April became one of two University of California campuses to earn the HSI designation from the U.S. Department of Education. Faculty members have already begun applying for grants open to HSIs.

The designation certifies an enrollment of at least 25 percent Hispanic students and is critical for obtaining grants and other funding for a variety of purposes, such as student support services, faculty development, laboratory equipment and renovation of instructional facilities. Roughly a third of UC Merced undergraduate students are Hispanic.

President Barack Obama’s budget request for fiscal year 2011-12 calls for $123 million for HSI-designated schools. The U.S. departments of Education, Agriculture, and Housing and Urban Development award grants to HSIs.

In the past year, UC Merced has had many noteworthy accomplishments by Latino students, staff and faculty.

  • In June, six students accepted in the
    Latino Leadership Initiativespent a week at Harvard University, where they learned leadership skills that will help them serve the San Joaquin Valley’s youth. The students are in the midst of organizing a project that will help high school students develop leadership skills. 
  • James Ortez, assistant dean of the
    School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, was selected to be part of the 2010 E. Kika de la Garza Fellowship Program. The fellowship gives recipients the opportunity to work collaboratively with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to gain insight and understanding of the federal government. Past recipients include biology Professor
    Andres (Andy) Aguilarand biology Professor
    Rudy Ortiz.
  • During the summer, undergraduate student Rafael Maravilla helped with a book drive organized by the
    Center of Excellencefor the Study of Health Disparities in Rural and Ethnic Underserved Populations. Maravilla, a Planada native, was among the people who delivered books to the town’s community center. The center will continue its work in the fall by hosting seminars that bring attention to health disparities.
  • A group of UC Merced students successfully advocated for a minor in
    Chicano/a studies. The minor, along with four others, was added to the campus’ list of academic offerings.

Two members of Congress plan to reintroduce resolutions designating the week of Sept. 19 as National Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week and will ask the president to issue a proclamation to observe HSI week nationally.