The University of Central Florida has joined a new, national consortium that will advance scholarship of Latinx students and the field of Latino studies, and an alliance that supports the growth and success of women and Latinos in computing fields.

The consortium includes 16 U.S. Hispanic Serving Institutions that are top-tier doctoral universities with very high research activity, as designated by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The “Crossing Latinidades: Emerging Scholars and New Comparative Directions” initiative is the first of the consortium and was just awarded a three-year, $5 million grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support its mission of increasing the number of Latinx students pursuing terminal degrees and advancing to careers in academia.

The initiative has three main components, including support and training for students as they develop their dissertation proposal; research working groups that will train graduate students, support junior faculty, and advance knowledge of Latino Humanities; and a web portal where faculty and students of all the consortium’s universities can network and collaborate on ongoing Latino research studies. The initiative is led by the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC).

UCF also recently became a member of the Computing Alliance of Hispanic-Serving Institutions, which was awarded a three-year, $2.9 million grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation. Their work supports the growth of underrepresented and underserved student populations, particularly women and Latinos, in computing fields by advancing a research-based framework that attracts and supports students through the completion of graduate degrees. UCF is one of 15 member institutions, and the effort is led by the University of Texas at El Paso.

“The opportunities these organizations present for our students and faculty underscore the value of UCF’s designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution.”  — Alexander N. Cartwright, UCF president

“The opportunities these organizations present for our students and faculty underscore the value of UCF’s designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution,” says UCF President Alexander N. Cartwright. “The designation opens doors to new funding and partnerships that benefit our campus community, our region and our state.”

For Crossing Latinidades, President Cartwright has committed university funds, in addition to the grant, to support select doctoral students for two years whose research supports the mission of the initiative. This money will waive tuition and fees for these students. Additional money also will support faculty who lead a research working group in support of the initiative.

“This is a powerful opportunity for UIC and our partners to leverage our strengths in research and our commitment to educating and empowering Latinx students, as we develop a new generation of Latino researchers and scholars and prepare them for faculty positions,” UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis says. “This important Mellon award launches our efforts with the first cohort in the humanities, while at the same time, it gives us the opportunity to address critical research questions related to our local Latinx communities, consistent with our roles as anchor institutions in our cities and our regions.”

As part of the Computing Alliance of Hispanic-Serving Institutions, UCF will join a network of institutions working to address barriers to student success among underrepresented populations in computing and STEM fields. The NSF-funded initiative of the alliance will work to ensure more undergraduate students of underrepresented and minority populations are exposed to research as a career pathway; more of these students participate in extensive research opportunities that can translate into a graduate education; and evidence-based support structures are developed that best help Hispanic students succeed in their graduate studies.

“We are very excited for UCF to join the Computing Alliance of Hispanic-Serving Institutions, as they receive extended grant funding from the NSF,” says Gary Leavens, professor of computer science. “Thanks to this NSF grant, we will be promoting computer research to our students, which will help them advance both their careers and the field of computing.”

Grants for both the consortium and alliance initiatives begin Oct. 1.