UC's Santa Barbara campus recognized for Latino enrollment

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GOLETA, Calif. (AP) — The University of California, Santa Barbara, has become the fourth UC campus and the nation's first major research university to be recognized for having a student body that is at least one-quarter Hispanic, university officials announced Wednesday.

The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities has designated UCSB as a "Hispanic-Serving Institution," a label that could make the school eligible to compete for a share of the $98 million in grants the federal government reserves for schools with large Hispanic enrollments.

UCSB enrolls about 21,700 undergraduate and graduate students at its campus perched above the Pacific Ocean in Southern California. The laid-back location has contributed over the years to its reputation as a party school, but the university has gotten more competitive and diverse in recent years as the state's college-going population has grown.

Chancellor Henry Yang said the percentage of Hispanic undergraduate and graduate students at UCSB grew from 11 percent in 1994 to 27 percent last year. The university gives new students a resource guide highlighting the campus' efforts to attract and retain Latino students, such as its Ph.D. program in Chicano Studies that was the first of its kind in the U.S.

"This milestone achievement reflects our vision and decades of collaborative effort and commitment to enhance excellence and diversity," Yang said. "Our faculty, staff, students, and alumni work tirelessly to make UC Santa Barbara a place that welcomes individuals of all backgrounds, and with this designation, we celebrate our shared commitment."

UC Riverside was the first University of California campus to secure the designation, followed by UC Merced and UC Santa Cruz. System-wide, Hispanics made up 18.5 percent of all UC students in 2013, the most recent year for which statistics were available. The Irvine and Davis campuses are on track to have student bodies that are more than 25 percent Latino next year, UC officials said.

Fifteen of the 23 California State University campuses also have been designated as Hispanic-Serving Institutions.

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