A new program launching in fall 2016 aimed at helping students succeed by matching them with peer mentors is just one of the many examples of the University of Central Florida’s commitment to diversity.

CREAR (College Readiness, Achievement and Retention) Futuros, which means “To Create Futures” in Spanish, pairs students with knowledgeable and highly trained student mentors who will introduce them to campus resources, provide tips on stress and time management, and offer insights on how to make the most out of their time at UCF. The Latino Faculty and Staff Association is running the program with support from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

UCF is always looking for ways to become more diverse and inclusive, one of President John C. Hitt’s five goals.

UCF’s commitment led Insight for Diversity Magazine to recognize the University of Central Florida as one of seven Diversity Champions nationwide.

Those honored “exemplify an unyielding commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout their campus communities, across academic programs, and at the highest administrative levels.”

“We consider UCF a national leader in diversity and inclusion,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity. “As a Diversity Champion school, UCF has developed an overwhelming number of successful strategies and programs that serve as models of excellence for other institutions of higher education.”

This fall, a record 43 percent of UCF students are minorities.

UCF established an Office of Diversity and Inclusion in 1994 to collaborate with members of the UCF community to advocate for and educate about the university’s goal of diversity and inclusion. The office conducts more than 300 workshops on 120 related topics each year. It also manages professional development and student development programs such as the Leadership Enhancement Program for members of the UCF faculty and staff and the LEGACY Leadership and Mentoring Program for students, which focuses on scholarship, identity development, leadership, career development and community service. The office also coordinates the UCF Summer Faculty Development Conference diversity track on curriculum transformation and organizes the annual Diversity Week celebration in October.

“UCF provides extensive educational and support services to our students, staff and faculty,” said Karen Morrison, UCF’s chief diversity officer. “This year’s #RespectUCF campaign and innovative programs promoting cultural competency, collaboration and personal accountability for an inclusive environment demonstrate UCF’s success and its continuing pursuit of excellence as a higher education diversity and inclusion leader.”

Many other departments and student organizations enhance the welcoming environment at the university through programs focused on college readiness and access. Some of them are:

  • Seizing Opportunities through Achievement and Retention Program (SOAR) This six-week summer bridge program serves students from underserved and underrepresented populations as they make the transition from high school to college.
  • Pegasus Success Program – This program assists students with bridging the gap between the life they had in high school and the life that stands before them as a UCF college student.
  • First Generation Program – This program assists first-generation students by providing guidance and resources to promote their self-esteem, confidence and academic achievement.
  • Brother to Brother Program (B2B) – B2B is intended to increase the retention and graduation rates of multicultural and first-generation men on campus. The program includes workshops and social events.
  • MASS Mentoring Program – Peer mentors provide support services, financial literacy education, coaching, leadership and direction to students.
  • Knight Alliance Network – The Knight Alliance Network helps students from foster care make a healthy transition to become successful students at UCF.
  • Student-led groups hold multiple workshops and other activities that encourage cultural diversity.

    The other universities recognized as Diversity Champions this year are: Florida State University, Columbia University, Kennesaw State University, Pennsylvania State University, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Texas Tech University.