Spirit Of Collaboration Serves

Administration September 2021 PREMIUM
Latinx Students At UC Santa Bárbara

Written by Dr. Lupe Navarro-Garcia Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Academic Support Services Division of Student Affairs University of California Santa Bárbara

Valuing both innovation and tradition, the faculty, staff and student community at UC Santa Bárbara are collaborating to create a place of welcome, and to offer high impact practices for BIPOC student communities. UC Santa Bárbara is proud to hold designations both as a Hispanic Serving Institution and an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution. Following a year and a half of remote instruction, students will return to campus this fall for in-person learning. On a campus where almost 40% of undergraduates are first-generation college students, Belinda Robnett, Vice Chancellor of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion states, “the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted the Latinx, African-American, Native American and other underserved communities who will have experienced economic instability and increased emotional stress.” Our efforts to date have been designed to ease the burden for students, and address their needs through a variety of new initiatives.

Pandemic Response

Like those of many higher education institutions across the country, UC Santa Bárbara’s COVID-19 protocols have needed to be nimble. We are prepared to address immediate public health guidelines and any respective changes. In addition, UC’s systemwide vaccine policy requires that all UC employees and students receive COVID-19 vaccinations, with the exception of those who have received approved exemptions/deferrals.

To address the disproportionate needs faced by members of our student community, Student Affairs’ Basic Needs partnerships with Associated Students, Graduate Student Association, and other campus partners have been active during the entirety of the pandemic to support students who are experiencing financial, food and/or housing, and technology challenges during remote instruction. Relief and supplemental grants and other aid efforts were provided for graduate and undergraduate students in partnerships that included the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships and the Graduate Division. To date, campus partners have implemented a grocery delivery program, provided over 450 computers to students needing devices, and provided over $69,000 in technology support mini-grants (WIFI hotspots, etc.), and other grant funds to support pandemic-related financial emergencies.

Student Services

Our fall quarter officially launches on September 20, 2021 with the formal New Student Convocation for incoming fresh and transfer students. The campus also will hold a number of annual events that highlight our Latinx traditions.

Bienvenida, held by Residential & Community Living, brings together our Latinx community for networking opportunities that focus on making new connections among incoming and continuing students. Featuring culturally inspiring welcome addresses, entertainment and traditional food, it also includes a campus fair that introduces the student body to student service departments and Latinx-related student organizations.

Celebración de La Familia, a signature event held by department and student organization partners, takes place during Parent and Family Weekend. Celebrating the champions and support systems who motivate our Latinx students to persist and succeed, this festivity includes entertainment and delicious gastronomía. It also cultivates a connection to the community, and sense of belonging at the university.


To address Latinx and other communities’ needs related to the return to campus and in-person instruction, our existing efforts will be joined by new initiatives for graduate and undergraduate students.

Orientation and Transition Programs: Our services to new students have expanded to include the 2nd Year Summer program, which serves to welcome continuing students who had not yet had the opportunity to come to campus. For Latinx families, our campus also piloted Saturday Orientation sessions in Spanish via Zoom. These included an academic and student service overview, student panel, housing presentation and virtual campus tours.

Town Hall: Faculty and staff of color from the Chicano Studies Institute and Center for Black Studies Research will co-host a “return to campus” town hall for Latinx and Black students. As Professor Inés Casillas, chair of the Chicano Studies Institute noted, the best way to welcome students back to campus is to openly discuss the physical and emotional transition regarding remote instruction and the return to campus.

Class Pages: Student Engagement & Leadership and campus partners will engage Latinx students through official "Class Pages" hosted on UC Santa Bárbara’s official online co-curricular hub, Shoreline. Cohorts 2022, 2023, 2024, and 2025 will have a respective community page. They will connect over the summer in a virtual space, and through in-person specialized programming when the fall term commences.

Second-Year Flocks: The Office of the Dean of Students and campus partners will engage students who joined the campus community in fall 2020 through a unique cohort initiative aimed at introducing them to campus. “Second-Year Flocks” aims to connect students to each other and to the larger community. Staff and peer moderators will convene the small groups to help the second-year cohort navigate the transition and ongoing adjustment to university life.

Graduate Student Mentorship: The campus’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the Graduate Division launched the Graduate Scholars Program–Thriving in the Academy Graduate Student Initiative. It will enhance cultural capital by building both a cohort among Latinx and other underrepresented graduate students, and networks and research collaborations among Latinx/underrepresented faculty and graduate students. Mentoring families, led by a doctoral student who has advanced to candidacy, will provide academic and career support and peer-mentoring to graduate scholars (first- and second-year doctoral students).

With the beautiful Pacific Ocean as our backdrop, the leadership, dedication and scholarship of our students, faculty and staff provide dynamic energy to the campus community. Our history of academic and holistic support for students, balanced with advocacy, innovation and service, has built a strong infrastructure of support for Latinx students. It is in this spirit of collaboration and commitment to serving our students that we will approach the fall quarter and the “regathering” of our community.

Author Bio: Focusing on the academic success and retention of students, Dr. Navarro’s work has centered on inclusion, advocacy, and support for diverse communities. She spent two decades counseling first-generation students, and her work expanded to work with campus partners to oversee new initiatives. These efforts led to new departments and resource centers for student veterans and undocumented students, and most recently, working with student leaders and administrative partners to launch UCSB’s new Office of Black Student Development. 

 A member of the Division of Student Affairs’ Executive leadership team, she is the highest-ranking Latina in the division. She participates in the operational, budget and IT strategic planning for 27 departments; 8 of which she directly oversees. Her functional duties for the division also include assessment, emergency planning, and mission continuity.

 Dr. Navarro holds a Bachelor and Master’s degree from UC Santa Bárbara. Her Doctorate degree is from UCLA in Educational Leadership. She is also a mother to two children.


Share with:

Product information

Post a Job

Post a job in higher education?

Place your job ad in our classified page on the HO print & digital Edition