For the seventh consecutive year, UCF has received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award, recognition of the university’s longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

UCF is among 100 colleges and universities to earn the national award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. UCF was selected based on its dedication to inclusive student recruitment, retention, and completion; programming, initiatives, and outreach; and hiring practices.

The accolade highlights the university’s efforts to ensure students of all backgrounds have access to an affordable, high-quality education — including those who come from underserved communities or are first-generation college students.

In Fall 2020, UCF set new records for diversity: 48.5% of students identify as a race or ethnicity other than white, including 27.5% who identify as Hispanic/Latina/o/x.

“The fact that UCF has won the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award seven years in a row speaks volumes about this university’s commitment to helping students from all walks of life achieve their dream of earning a college degree,” says Andrea Guzmán, vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “When we foster an environment of inclusive excellence that values diversity, it’s good for our students, our economy and society.”

The HEED award comes as UCF continues its celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month through Oct. 15, big gains in its national social mobility rankings and prepares for the start of Diversity Week on Oct. 18.

Social Mobility

U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 Best Colleges Rankings put UCF in the Top Performers on Social Mobility category, ranking the university 51st in the nation. In the last two years, UCF’s social mobility ranking has risen 19 spots, up from 62nd in 2021 and 70th in 2020.

The category, which measures the number of Pell Grant-eligible students who enroll and graduate, is important to students’ success in college and beyond. Graduation rates correlate with getting a stable job and better income — two important factors to social mobility. For more than a decade, UCF has worked to ensure students of all backgrounds, including those who are first-generation or from underserved communities, have access to a quality college degree — and the resources and tools needed to succeed. This creates a powerful ripple effect by transforming the future for generations to come.

UCF has a number of programs designed to boost graduation rates and other measures of student success, including:

  • DirectConnect to UCF, which guarantees admission for students who complete a two-year degree at one of six partner state colleges in our region.
  • The new Transfer Connect program, which provides support, engagement, and resources to prospective and enrolled transfer students.
  • The First-Generation Program, where students who are the first in their families to attend college receive guidance and advising from faculty, staff, and their student peers.
  • The TRiO Center, which provides academic support services, opportunities, and resources to students who are first-generation, low-income, and/or have a documented disability.

Hispanic Heritage Month

Events celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at UCF are continuing through Oct. 15, including panel discussions,  student voices, and more to honor the culture of Hispanic and Latino Americans. For the first time, this year’s event is led by the Puerto Rico Research Hub at UCF, which was established by sociology Professor Fernando Rivera.

Activities are varied, ranging from a discussion of the impact of climate change on Latinos to a Latin American/LatinX Film Festival featuring six films.

In 2019, UCF was designated a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education — recognition that Hispanic students make up more than a quarter of the university’s undergraduate enrollment. The designation made UCF eligible for federal funding to strengthen student success initiatives. The U.S. National Science Foundation awarded UCF’s HSI a grant in 2020 to enhance the quality of undergraduate STEM education for Hispanic students, reflecting a commitment to a more diverse and capable science and engineering workforce.

Diversity Week

The 29th UCF Diversity Week kicks off next month and runs from Oct 18-22. This year, the celebration of the university’s diverse community carries the theme “Changing the Narrative,” which encourages us to explore the many facets of diversity, equity, and inclusion and to take intentional action toward building a campus of inclusive excellence.