UCF has joined 19 of the nation’s top research universities to form a new alliance dedicated to increasing opportunities for historically underserved student populations.

The Alliance of Hispanic Serving Research Universities aims to double the number of Hispanic doctoral students and increase the number of Hispanic faculty at member institutions by 20%.

The 20 universities represent every university that has been both categorized as R1 (very high research activity) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education and designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education — which UCF was recognized as in 2019.

The new partnership builds on UCF’s support for the success of Latina/o/x students and faculty. Last year, UCF was one of 10 institutions awarded the Seal of Excelencia by Excelencia in Education, the nation’s premier authority on efforts accelerating Latino student success in higher education. UCF and eight other members of HSRU Alliance also have the Seal of Excelencia.

“At UCF, we want to empower students and faculty from every walk of life to unleash their potential,” says President Alexander N. Cartwright. “We are proud to join the new alliance, which — combined with our status as an HSI and Seal of Excelencia recognition — continues to illustrate our commitment to student success. We know that when we focus on inclusive excellence, we incorporate more people — their ideas and their talents — to innovate, to create and to solve society’s grand challenges.”

In 2021, Hispanic Outlook magazine ranked UCF among the top schools for awarding bachelor’s and master’s degrees to Hispanic students, as well as across several disciplines — including No. 9 for computer and information sciences and support services — and for overall enrollment. In Fall 2021, more than 19,600 students at UCF identified as Hispanic or Latina/o/x, accounting for about 28% of the student body.

“Leveraging partnerships at the local, state, and national level are key to our success as an HSI,” says Cyndia Morales Muñiz ’13EdD, director of HSI Culture and Partnerships. “Our participation and commitment to this Alliance positions us to maximize our HSI designation in a way that meaningfully serves students and faculty through collaborative grant writing, research and teaching.”

With the new partnership, UCF strengthens its focus on increasing the number of Hispanic students earning doctoral degrees, as well as the number of Hispanic faculty members. In the fall, 272 UCF doctoral students, or 12%, identified as Hispanic or Latina/o/x. About 8% of UCF faculty identified as Hispanic or Latina/o/x.

“Faculty who share racial/ethnic and lived experiences of minoritized students are seen as mentors, role models, and professionals to be emulated,” says Andrea Guzmán, vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “Being a member of the HSRU Alliance will allow UCF to continue to support Hispanic/Latina/o/x students by increasing representation inside of the classroom and working together to identify effective student success strategies.”

HSRU Alliance universities are engaged in thousands of research projects in the arts and humanities, STEM, health sciences, social sciences, and other fields with world-changing outcomes. In 2020, the combined research spending of these universities totaled more than $5.9 billion.

“Hispanics are the largest minority group in the United States and are now 17% of the workforce, yet they continue to be underrepresented in higher education. No group is better positioned than we are to expand the pathway to opportunity,” says Heather Wilson, president of The University of Texas at El Paso and chair of the HSRU Alliance. “We believe we are stronger together than as individual institutions acting alone.”

Higher education makes a positive impact on lives by helping break the cycle of intergenerational hardship. UCF has held a long-standing commitment to closing achievement gaps across race, class, and economic inequalities. As a result of the university’s success in its social mobility efforts, UCF was ranked No. 2 in the nation for social mobility impact by Education Reform Now and among the top public universities for social mobility, graduate indebtedness, and graduation and retention by U.S. News & World Report.

Recognizing UCF’s significant strides in reducing barriers for students to reach their potential, last year author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett, invested $40 million in the university. The unrestricted gift will strengthen proven pathways to opportunity — fueling student success, academic excellence and faculty research for generations.

Prior to the formal announcement of the HRSU Alliance, the universities began working together on several initiatives. The first project, funded by a $5 million grant from the Mellon Foundation, will conduct cross-regional research and train doctoral students in Latinx humanities. A second initiative, which is funded by $3 million from the U.S. National Science Foundation, expands opportunities for Hispanic students in computer science.

Universities in the Alliance include:

Arizona State University

City University of New York Graduate Center

Florida International University

Texas Tech University

The University of Arizona

The University of New Mexico

The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at El Paso

The University of Texas at San Antonio

University of California, Irvine

University of California, Riverside

University of California, Santa Barbara

University of California, Santa Cruz

University of Central Florida

University of Colorado, Denver

University of Houston

University of Illinois Chicago

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

University of North Texas