UNC Charlotte Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber is now among a select group of higher education leaders to join Excelencia in Education’s Presidents for Latino Student Success based upon the University’s history of outreach and program support leading to Latinx student success. Charlotte is the only four-year university in North Carolina to be a member.
"Charlotte is a top choice for Latinx students, and our enrollment of Latinx students exceeds all four-year colleges and universities in the state," said Gaber. "In fact, UNC Charlotte is the No. 1 institution in North Carolina in awarding bachelor’s degrees to Latinx students. I look forward to working with colleagues in Excelencia in Education’s Presidents for Latino Student Success to continue to advance opportunities for our students to excel."
Excelencia in Education, founded in 2004, works to accelerate Latinx student success in higher education to address the nation’s need for a highly educated workforce and promote civic leadership through data-driven analysis of the educational status of Latinx students and promoting educational policies and practices to support their achievement. Presidents for Latino Student Success is a diverse group of college and university leaders committed to ensuring their institutions are thriving learning environments for Latinx students.
CarlosAlexis Cruz, diversity coordinator and special assistant to the dean of the College of Arts + Architecture, is a member of the UNC Charlotte Latinx/Hispanic Faculty/Staff Caucus and the University’s primary liaison with Excelencia in Education. He noted the 2020 census indicated that 15% of Mecklenburg County’s residents identified as Hispanic, a 52% increase in the past decade.
"With the changing demographics for the region, the University must take a more proactive approach in preparing for greater numbers of Latinx students," said Cruz, who also is an associate professor of physical theatre. "Excelencia in Education’s membership includes a number of institutions with some of the largest enrollments of Latinx students in the country, primarily in the Western United States. We have a unique opportunity to learn from these peers and pioneer efforts for Latinx student success not only at UNC Charlotte but throughout the Southeastern United States."
Brandon Wolfe, associate vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, stated the University’s membership in Excelencia in Education is an opportunity to discover new ways in which Charlotte can leverage its efforts to improve Latinx student success at all levels.
"In joining the Presidents for Latino Student Success, Chancellor Gaber reinforces Charlotte’s intentional institutional commitment to serving our Latinx students. It also demonstrates a top-down approach that's often needed to drive and sustain change," said Wolfe. "We must build upon our efforts to create an inviting community for Latinx students and their families and for Latinx faculty and staff. We must set goals to ensure this happens, measure our progress regularly and implement accountability measures that will continue our efforts."
The University’s Latinx population, currently 11.5% of the student population, is expected to increase. Plans are underway to apply for Excelencia in Education’s Seal of Excelencia, which would designate Charlotte among a select group of higher education institutions that go beyond student recruitment of Latinx students to strengthen the University’s capacity to ensure Latinx student success.