[soundcloud url=https://soundcloud.com/theucipodcast/aanapisi /]
About 39 percent of UCI’s total student population identify as Asian American or Pacific Islander. As we wrap up Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the UCI Podcast explores the meaning behind UCI’s federal designation as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution, commonly referred to as “AANAPISI.” UCI’s AANAPISI status is fairly unique among the UC campuses and members of the Association of American Universities (AAU).
In this episode:
Dr. Joseph Morales, the associate director of strategic initiatives and partnerships in the Office of Inclusive Excellence discusses this federal designation and what it means for UCI and for students.
To get the latest episodes of the UCI Podcast delivered automatically, subscribe at:
From the University of California, Irvine, this is the UCI Podcast. I’m Sheri Ledbetter. Thank you for joining me for this episode. We’re going to explore what it means to be an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander serving institution, also referred to by the acronym AANAPISI. Given that May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. And combined with the current social environment that has found the Asian American community, the focus of negative sentiment and activity, we wanted to explore UCI’s AANAPISI designation and what that means for the university’s Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. I recently sat down for a discussion about UCI‘s federal AANAPISI designation with the Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships in the Office of Inclusive Excellence Joseph Morales. Dr. Morales has been with UCI since 2016 and has been instrumental in maintaining and developing this designation at UCI. Welcome Dr. Morales.
Thank you. Thank you. Sheri.
Let’s back up a little from the AANAPISI status for a moment. UCI is a Minority Serving Institution, meaning we have both the Hispanic Serving Institution designation and the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution designations, the AANAPISI. Why did UCI pursue both of these?
Thank you so much for that question. Yes, it is. UCI is a dual designation, a Minority Serving Institution. We are an AANAPISI, an Asian-American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution, and we are also a Hispanic Serving Institution. So, both of these designations were listed in the strategic plan that UCI released in 2016, Bright Past. Brilliant Future. These designations were listed as goals to ensure that the campus is positioned to serve the entire state. But I mean, I think I would look back more as well on historical context, higher education in California. The University of California, founded in 1868, as well as UCI founded in 1965 were founded as predominantly white institutions. And I would say that reflected the demographics of the state. In 1960 Clark Kerr’s California master plan for higher education really articulated a commitment to access to higher education in California.
When you pair this with the civil rights act of 1964 I think it opened the door to a democratization of higher education which student movements mobilized for in the late sixties. For example, that there were liberation front strike movement at San Francisco State and Berkeley. But then when you see some reaction to this in the state, you have 1978 decision on the Regents of the University of California versus Bakke, which introduced the notion of reverse discrimination. And also in 1996, you have California Proposition 209, which was a prohibition on considering race and gender preference, for example, in admissions. So, I think that, you know, there’s sort of a pendulum of sorts, which is swinging. In 2007, you have UC students again, mobilizing and I would say even before that in the late 1990s also, the third world liberation front strike movement part two where they were fighting again in response to Prop 209.
But in 2007 you have the count me in campaign which is very pertinent to AANAPISI designation. So the count me in campaign was really a mobilization of students to dis-aggregate Asian American, Pacific Islander data. So, in the aggregate the data is just collected as one, you know, a one unit AAPI. But when you disaggregate the data in our case, we can, dis-aggregate into 17 Asian-American ethnicities and six Pacific Islander ethnicities. You can see the Asian-American Pacific Islander communities in a, in a broader sense. And you know, that’s that I think brings us back to AANAPISI on our campus because as AANAPISI we leverage disaggregation as a way to make sure that we’re not only serving all – the entire state – but serving all AAPI students as best we can.
Sure. Wow. That’s really great history. Thank you for sharing some of the notable historical things that have happened to kind of bring us to where we are today. I want to focus, and that was a great transition. I want to kind of focus on mainly on the AANAPISI designation and in doing some homework, it it’s notable that about 39% of UCI’s total student population – that’s a, that’s a graduate and undergraduate identify as Asian American or Pacific Islander. And also UCI is fairly unique among the UCs and also the Association of American Universities for having this status. So how long has UCI had the AANAPISI status and what does that mean for us?
So, this spring will be UCI’s fifth anniversary as a federally recognized and AANAPISI. In a technical sense. AANAPISI designation means that UCI meets financial criteria relating to the number of students who receive financial assistance, as well as the campuses core expenses. And on the other hand that UCI has an enrollment of undergraduate students that is at least 10%. It also means once the campus establishes eligibility, that the campus can compete for federal grants. For example, in 2016 the campus received an AANAPISI grant to support a partnership between the divisions of graduate and undergraduate education. But as I mentioned in response to your last question, I, I think it means it can mean much more because as an AANAPISI we are positioned to, to I would say to challenge the model minority myth, right?
We have, we did a self-study in anticipation of AANAPISI designation, and it was an opportunity for us to ask who, who AAPI students that UCI are, whether or not the campus is serving them, and how we can improve. And so, as a result of that study it, it is clear because we are able to disaggregate that some AAPI students are, are excelling, are doing fantastic while others are experiencing challenges. And so, I would say that AAPI student success at UCI is uneven. So that’s something that, that is an opportunity for us to push against the model minority myth, find, find ways to scaffold success for all AAPI students. So, in response to that question as well, I would say that you know dual designation, I think within the UC system has been a matter of discussion.
As far as I know you UCI is the only UC to fully pursue both HSI and, and AANAPISI designation while some UCs are technically eligible to be AANAPISI, I I’m unaware of any other UC pursuing the grants. And, you know, I would say that even if an institution isn’t pursuing a grant, they can still develop the campus in the spirit of AANAPISI, I mean, find ways to serve all AAPI students. And, and amongst the you mentioned the Association of American Universities. There are 63 of these so-called elite research universities. And within that group only three institutions have ever held AANAPISI grants: first University of Maryland at college park and University of Minnesota, I believe has had more than one now and UCI. And so that’s an opportunity as well for us to push against you know, to really push, push debates about what, you know, what counts as academic excellence. How do we make academic excellence inclusive.
Yes. So, it’s interesting too, that about the survey and then sort of the exclusivity of this designation. How do we use, how does UCI use our AANAPISI designation fundamentally?
Well as I mentioned I think you know, the task force that produced that AANAPISI report was very important and understanding of course, who AAPI students at UCI are and also identifying gaps and more importantly, how we can improve. And so, you know, in that respect, I would say some of the things that we learned is that you know, the campus can leverage dis-aggregated Asian-American Pacific Islander data to scaffold success. We can also improve coordination between the campus AAPI outreach and student success initiatives. With that, that includes working, you know, this involves, you know, building bridges across different units on campus, I would say as well. For example, inclusive excellence, partnering with you know, many other units on campus. And we can also recognize, validate and promote the diversity of academic excellence of AAPI students, staff, and faculty at UCI.
So, in other words, I think it’s really an opportunity to sort of move beyond the federal definition, which is based on undergraduate enrollment and think about the campus in terms of its entirety enterprise wide, how can we serve all AAPI students across students, staff, and faculty? And you know, this also is an opportunity for the campus to, to, you know, to, to fulfill its mission as a research university as well. My colleagues in the UC HSI initiative have a term that they have developed called the Hispanic serving research institution. And so, in this case, I, I think it’s, it’s applicable as well, pertinent to talk about an Asian-American Native American Pacific Islander serving research institution. I mean, we can be an AANAPISI and a research institution, and I think developing that across all levels of the campus ecosystem is critical.
Yeah, I agree. I agree. That’s great. Interesting. And I wanted to ask what, you know, for at the student level, you know, we’re talking about some administrative things and some other sort of university things, but what, what should our students know about UCI being AANAPISI? How does that impact them? Right. So the environment for, for this population of students is really, can be really volatile particularly in the last year. And is there an intersection between this designation and, and what they need to know or what, you know, how they can how they can understand it and how it’s helpful really, to all students, but in particular to this population.
Yeah. No, thank you so much for that. You know, sadly this year and this is our fifth anniversary of being AANAPISI, but it’s also a, you know, a call to confront anti-Asian sentiment. UCI has a documented history of building inclusive communities and, and I, I would highlight the Cross-Cultural Center which, you know, has a storied history. And so, you know, I, I would say that as an AANAPISI, you know, UCI is in a position to support all AAPI folks to bring their whole self to campus. There’s a number of different types of programs that the, that the Office of Inclusive Excellence has, has partnered with many other units on campus. I mean, we can’t do it alone, you know, in, in one way, I think the AANAPISI designation is a way to build community across the campus. And I would say that, you know, if, if any students have any other ideas, I’m always encouraging them to bring me, you know, tell me some opportunities for partnership across campus that you see.
I can give you some examples. We’ve partnered with national organizations such as AAPI Scholars to provide college access programming at UCI. And I mean, that has brought hundreds upon hundreds of families to campus where, you know, it’s been an opportunity to demystify the college going experience and the application process especially for first-generation AAPI students. We’ve also partnered as an AANAPISI with local campuses, for example, Irvine Valley College and Coastline Community College. And so this has really been an opportunity for us to build what we called a the OCN, a PZ consortium. And so, in a sense, it was for us, you know, to, to focus on building pipelines between the community college and UCI. And I would say that was fortunately for us, when we hosted the AANAPISI Western regional conference, it was an opportunity for us to also co-host a, an annual Asian-American Studies Conference.
And so, it brought together the AANAPISI folks along with Asian-American Studies folks. And so it was a really great opportunity to build bridges. I would say regionally, locally, nationally. So, for students, I think there’s really wonderful opportunities to participate in these events to network. When we first became an AANAPISI, for example, we, we brought UCI alumnus Akil Vohra, who was director of strategic initiatives at the white house initiative on Asian American Pacific Islanders. And Akil came and presented you know, the significance of, of dis-aggregated data the importance of advancing inclusive excellence amongst AANAPISIs at UCI. So that was a really interesting opportunity as well for folks to, to network with alums. But I would say there’s also just, you know, on, on the ground, you know, as an AANAPISI there are scholarship opportunities for students through the Office of Financial Aid in particular, our partnership with the AAPI Scholars there is an AANAPISI specific scholarship.
And so, because we’re AANAPISI, our students are eligible to apply every year for that scholarship. So there’s financial opportunities. I think there’s career opportunities, there’s social opportunities there’s health shown intellectual opportunities you know, partnering with many of my colleagues around campus I’ve learned so much especially about the movement to create the Department of Asian American Studies here at UCI, which I would say ingeniously called “bad-ass,” the Beginnings of Activism for the Department of Asian American Studies. And so learning about how community has been challenged and created. And I would say going back also to the Cross-Cultural Center, you know, the imperative for connecting community and wellbeing and the designation, you know, which is acknowledges the diversity of AAPI communities at UCI and locally, nationally. It’s really a special opportunity, I think for UCI to, to develop as a research university and create knowledge and to do the things that are most important for the state and to advance students who haven’t had access up until now to provide that opportunity for them to, to come to college, to create a space, a home away from home.
And, and, you know, I would say to advance themselves career wise and personally, and professionally, and their whole self. Bring their whole self to campus this is where they can be
Amazing, really thank you for breaking that down for us. And, you know, it’s more than just a designation. It’s more than just the ability to apply for grants that there’s the consortium, there’s the, there’s the opportunity for connection and, and all of those things. That’s really important. And I really appreciate you breaking that down for us. Thank you again.
If I could say one more thing about the designation too. So, you know, the designations, I think, you know, first, you know, they make you eligible to pursue grants. There’s not a, you know, pipeline of money coming from the federal government. It makes us eligible to pursue grants, to focus on areas that we need to build capacity within the campus. But also, the grants when we do receive them are not only, or specifically for Asian American Pacific Islander students, they are for all students, the AANAPISI designation serves all students at UCI. You know, as an AANAPISI, all staff and faculty can pursue different AANAPISI grants. So it’s not just for AAPI students in the end, you know, given the, the technical definition the technical definition has within it, that, you know, the, the campus must serve a certain percentage of low income students. So the idea is, you know, sooner or later with these grants statistically, the funds and programs will touch a variety of students. And so AANAPISI designation really serves all students. It serves all AAPI students, but across the board is for the entire campus.
I am so glad you provided that clarification because it really is a benefit to the entire UCI community. And if you don’t know that much about it, it’s easy to have the perception that, oh, I’m in this population so only I will benefit, or I’m not in that population so I won’t benefit. But it’s a benefit to everybody. So thank you again. I just want to thank you, Dr. Morales for joining me today on the UCI Podcast.
Thank you, Sheri. It’s been a pleasure.
You can learn more about UCI as a minority serving institution at the website for the Office of Inclusive Excellence at inclusion dot UCI dot edu. The UCI podcast is a production of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs at the University of California, Irvine. I’m Sheri Ledbetter. Thank you for listening.