At the University of California, Irvine (UCI), we acknowledge the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in advancing our mission as a public research university proudly serving the residents of Orange County and the state of California. One of our recent major milestones was the designation in February 2017 from the U.S. Department of Education as an Asian American and Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI), giving UCI the rare distinction of being an elite research university and a Minority Serving Institution. 

Being named an AANAPISI is a reflection of UCI’s purposeful vision to elevate the student experience and aligns with our aspiration to be a national leader and global model of inclusive excellence – a community where all expect equity, support diversity and practice inclusion. It also demonstrates our commitment to making a world-class education available to all qualified students, enabling UCI to serve as an elevator of social mobility for first generation, low-income, high-achieving students. When it comes to doing the most to help students achieve the American dream, no university matches UCI. For the second consecutive time, the campus

ranks #1 on The New York Times’ Access Index of U.S. universities, based on their commitment to economic diversity.

As a public research university, our student population reflects the community. One out of every five residents countywide is Asian American or Pacific Islander (AAPI), representing 20.8 percent of the population. Orange County is home to the third-largest Asian American population in the U.S., including the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam, the second largest Korean community outside of Korea, as well as Chinese, Pakistani, Indian, Sri Lankan and Japanese residents, while Pacific Islander communities include Hawaiian, Marshallese, Samoan, Tongan, Guamanian and Papua New Guinean. At UCI, AAPIs comprise 38.6 percent of the student body.

We continue to build and fortify our capacity to be responsive to the needs of these communities. Among the elite doctoral granting institutions in North America, UCI is one of the few to hold an AANAPISI Title III grant. This grant supports the academic-focused initiative

DECADE PLUS – Diverse Educational Community and Doctoral Experience: Partnering in Leadership for Undergraduate Students. The program is designed to foster the next generation of leaders through peer mentors and graduate student leadership coaches. DECADE PLUS aims to ensure undergraduate success in scholarship renewal and degree completion while also enhancing the professional skill set of our graduate students.

At the center of our mission to understand experiences, develop teaching and strengthen our connections with the surrounding communities are the School of Humanities Department of Asian American Studies and Center for Critical Korean Studies, as well as the UCI Library’s Southeast Asian Archive. Established in 2002, the Department of Asian American Studies is

one of four in the University of California system. The faculty, who are drawn from arts, humanities, social ecology and social sciences, mount an interdisciplinary academic program that explores the cultural, political and artistic aspects of these diverse communities. Led by principal investigator Kyung Hyun Kim, professor of East Asian languages and literatures, the center was launched in 2016 in response to students’ surging interest in contemporary Korean popular culture and to leverage our faculty proficiency in Korean studies. Administered by UCI’s Humanities Commons, the center will develop innovative interdisciplinary programs, provide research grants for cutting-edge books/monographs and essays, hire leading postdoctoral students in critical Korean studies and invite scholars from around the globe to share their research on the nation.

Created in 1978 to share the experiences of the large number of refugees and immigrants from

Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, the Southeast Asian Archive features government reports and surveys, personal and family papers, refugee orientation publications, posters, photographs and other materials. The collection documents the social, cultural, religious, political and economic aspects of the lives of these diasporic peoples as they resettled in a new country and culture, and also tells the story of the development and progress of new ethnic communities.

“Increasing  the number of Asian American and Pacific Islander students who enroll at UCI is one thing,” said Douglas Haynes, vice provost for academic equity, diversity and inclusion. “It’s quite another to serve them, which is the reason I’ve established a campus-wide AANAPISI task force to provide enhanced educational opportunities and support to help ensure their academic success and ability to pursue the lives they want to lead after graduation.”

For more information, please see our video here.

Akil Vohra, UCI alum and WHIAAPI Director of Strategic Initiatives, speaks at “Advancing Inclusive Excellence: UCI as an AANAPISI,” April 20, 2017. Courtesy of Joseph Morales.

 

Article published in August Newsletter released by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

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