2-"Writing Our HSItory," The Project

Thomas O'Donnell, Ph.D., Principal Analyst, Office of Academic Diversity

As we noted in our first post of this series, the University of California, Davis will soon reach the enrollment threshold necessary to apply for designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) with the Department of Education. This will be a historic moment for UC Davis, one that will see the culmination of many years of hard and deliberate work. UC Davis will be one of fewer than 20 R1 HSIs in the nation (4 of which are within the UC system–Riverside, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and Irvine). Further, we will be one of the highest enrollment universities–in any of the Carnegie classifications–for Hispanic-identifying undergraduates. 

Chicanx.Latinx Group Photo 2022

In addition to the important funding support that will soon be available as a result of our HSI designation, it will create an opportunity to reposition UC Davis as an institution that reflects the best thinking of equity in higher education. The Vice Chancellor’s Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is leading in the promotion of this transformation.

This project provides an important avenue to communicate about the past and promise of our journey to becoming a HSI. For decades, “Chi/Lat” students, faculty, and staff at UC Davis have worked to make the campus more accessible and responsive to the needs of its historically marginalized members. It is imperative that we document that story, share it with the campus community, and use it to motivate further change. Content authors and creators (we are soliciting contributions beyond the written word) in this project will research, write/produce, and communicate the history of Chi/Lat students, faculty, and staff at UC Davis, framed by our educational objectives.

The HSI Implementation Taskforce Communications Subcommittee outlined three objectives to help guide this project:

  1. Raise awareness about what it means to be a R1 HSI, especially to highlight the opportunities and benefits of becoming a HSI for all of our students;
  2. Document the long history of Chi/Lat people, struggles, and accomplishments at UC Davis that strengthens a sense of belonging and their contributions to the university;
  3. Promote cultural appreciation through the celebration of important Chi/Lat dates, people, and achievements. 

This project will be led by the Office of Academic Diversity’s Principal Analyst, Thomas O’Donnell (History Ph.D., U.C. Davis, 2018) and assisted by graduate and undergraduate students, and staff, as well as additional contributors that can be recruited from across campus and the community. This team will write short articles (750-1,000 words) or produce audio/visual material on various topics that will be published online, which in turn will be utilized as content to create social media to reach a wide audience, raise awareness, and generate enthusiasm for our HSI Initiative.

We have several intentions–or actions desired on the part of our audience–with this specific project:

  1. Encourage a sense of belonging among UCD community members to help them succeed academically, socially, professionally. This project intends to provide evidence that Chi/Lat community members have a rightful and meaningful place on campus.
  2. We wish to recognize the distance traveled and possibilities for improvement that have been met and overcome; the activism on campus can motivate and inform future activism.
  3. Educate UCD community members about what it means to be a HSI so they will be supportive and proud of our efforts.
  4. Emphasize the importance of UC Davis becoming a HSI to bring status and attention to UC Davis as a leader in higher education equity.

To develop this campaign we will write an institutional history, one that is based on the people that attend/ed, work/ed for, fought against, and ultimately contributed to the creation of UC Davis and brought us to the cusp of a HSI designation.

The Office of Academic Diversity, which oversees the HSI Initiative, has created a list of Suggested Article Topics that continues to grow, meaning there is no shortage of stories that can be told. Articles or related audio/visual content will also be determined by what authors find in the archives and what interests them most. 

As part of the Article Submission Guidelines, we are requiring all articles to include a digital copy of a primary source that the article/content is based upon that can be used to create social media content.

While the success of this project will not depend entirely on our ability to solicit frequent “guest” contributions, we believe that the richness and breadth of stories that can be told will be greatly enhanced by the recruitment of writers outside the Office of Academic Diversity. A number of undergraduate students have expressed interest in publishing articles for this project with only a minimal effort to publicize the opportunity.

This is a multi-year effort, our intention is to end up with a manuscript-length history and that will take time. 

If you are interested in contributing to this project, please take a look at the Suggested Article Topics (or propose your own) and Article Submission Guidelines and then submit your work here for review and consideration.

Read the next article in this series:

Our HSI Vision