Making UCI a First Choice for Black Students
Increasing the enrollment of Black undergraduates and graduate students is an essential condition to building a thriving culture for Black people at UCI. Over a ten-year period, enrollments for undergraduates and graduate students have grown, but the proportion of Black students has remained steady or only modestly increased. Unless there is a substantial change in our strategy, the proportion will largely remain unchanged. This will contribute to a profound sense of invisibility and hyper-visibility for enrolled Black students while contributing to Black deserts in our academic programs.
In many ways, the campus is well-positioned to increase the participation of Black students. As a nationally ranked research university, UCI remains one of the most affordable in the United States. Our admissions effort is led by a diverse, seasoned and dedicated team of professionals committed to inclusive excellence. Their outreach efforts have been notable. For three years in a row, UCI has been among the top three UC destination campuses for applications from Black California resident high school seniors. Applicants are drawn to UCI for the reputation of its academic programs, robust co-curricular programs, availability of housing and the beauty of the campus. While the campus extends offers of admission to competitive applicants, our success in yielding Black students has been uneven. There is no doubt that students who are offered admissions to UCI have options at other elite public or private universities, or liberal arts colleges. Like other competitive applicants, there are a number of factors that influence the decision of Black applicants to choose to enroll at other institutions. Among these include the local visibility of the campus, scholarship support, access to preferred majors or schools, to strength of the alumni eco-system among others.
The proposed whole university approach to creating a Black thriving culture will make UCI a far more compelling choice for competitive Black applicants. Building on our existing strengthens, the Black Thriving Initiative commits UCI to creating and sustaining the conditions for Black students to be successful as an integral–not contingent– commitment. Each of the pillar invests in and is invested in this outcome. The Culture Change pillar confronts anti-Blackness as a pre-condition to creating a thriving culture. Rather than Black students bearing this burden, all campus members are expected to participate in changing the culture where-ever teaching, learning, discovery, healing and creativity takes place throughout the university enterprise. This commitment extends to leveraging our research and teaching to advance the understanding of the Black experience and the drivers of well-being. This pillar ensures that UCI will be at the forefront of generating scholarly insights and interventions, innovation and creative expressions, and public policy solutions while providing students with a wide variety of curricular and co-curricular opportunities to learn, study and contribute to advancing a Black thriving society. The final pillar–linking UCI’s future as a public research university to the success of Black communities—brings the initiative full-circle. The campus must engage with Black communities throughout the state and nation to raise awareness about our commitment to the success of talented Black students, communicate research and creative activity that advances the Black experience and drivers of well-being, and partner with community and national organizations to promote a thriving society for Black people.
The broad commitment of the Black Thriving Initiative will also contribute to improving the participation of Black students in our many doctoral and professional programs. Like our undergraduate enrollments, those for Black graduate students have increased overtime. Still, the total enrollments remain small and dispersed unevenly across the 58 doctoral and professional programs. These programs need to leverage existing programs and pilot others to increase overall enrollments—by expanding outreach to grow applications while continuing holistic review in the admissions process. Among existing programs include UC-HBCU Initiative; UC HSI-Doctoral Diversity Initiative; California Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; Summer Institute for Emerging Managers and Leaders (UC Business Schools); UCI Diverse Educational Community and Doctoral Experience (DECADE); Graduate Division & Office of Inclusive Minority Serving Institution Fellowships; the Office of Access and Inclusion (Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Donald Bren School of Computer and Information Science); Outreach, Research, Training and Minority Science Programs (Biological Sciences); Primary Care in the Latino Community (PRIME LC, School of Medicine); and Leadership Education to Advance Diversity for African, Black and Caribbean (LEAD-ABC, School of Medicine).