Michael Rios, in blue suit, stands for portrait outside Mrak Hall.

A Message from the Vice Provost

October 2022

Last week marked the end of National Hispanic Heritage Month, a time for recognizing the contributions of Hispanic Americans to the history, culture and achievements of the United States.

As you may already know, UC Davis is an emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI). A HSI is a federally-designated institution of higher learning that has a full-time equivalent enrollment of undergraduate of at least 25% Hispanic students. Currently, UC Davis is at 24.1% Hispanic enrollment. 

While we are nearly there, the work to reach HSI status does not end with achieving a number. Providing opportunities for students to succeed is a vital part of this mission, as is creating spaces where individuals can find their community. Programs like the Center for Chicanx and Latinx Academic Student Success provide an affirming home for students. Studies show community engagement and learning also help create a greater sense of belonging among students of color. 

As a first-generation college graduate who is Puerto Rican, and someone who has collaborated with Latinx communities and colleagues in my own scholarship, I am proud to encourage and contribute to diversity, equity, and inclusion in community engagement at UC Davis. That’s why I’m excited that Public Scholarship and Engagement supports programs like the Sacramento Valley College Corps, which engages undergraduates in meaningful work in their local communities, and Public Scholars for the Future, which provides community for graduate students interested in engaged research. 

We must also continue building a diverse faculty who reflect the demographics of our students and the state of California. Only 7% of UC Davis faculty identify as Latinx/Chicanx. Yet in California, 40.2% of residents identified as Hispanic or Latino in July 2021. (These terms have changed over time and reflect the evolution of Latino identity and community in the U.S.) I believe community engagement has an important role to play in serving the Latinx community in California and beyond. Indeed, UC Davis’ strategic plan, “To Boldy Go,” calls for mutually beneficial and impactful partnerships that support our community, region, state, nation and world. The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has a complementary goal of promoting diversity and inclusion in reaching, teaching, public service, and training across neighboring communities. And just last week, UC Davis announced a continued emphasis on diversity in faculty hiring. Community engagement is the linchpin of these efforts. I think we’re at the beginning of something big.


In community,


Michael Rios
Vice Provost, Public Scholarship and Engagement  

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