Gina Garcia wasn’t stressing over a dozen college applications when deciding where to go for her undergraduate degree.
“I made the choice like a lot of first gen college students do: Wherever is closest to home, that’s where I’m going,” said Garcia about joining her older sister at California State University, Northridge, in the mid-1990s, when tuition was virtually free and Proposition 209, which ended affirmative action, wasn’t undermining diversity.
Northridge, which is about 30 minutes from her home, was a world away from where Garcia grew up in the predominantly white town of Simi Valley in California’s Ventura County.
“When you’re in a white space, you know when you’re not white,” said Garcia of her childhood. “And so I went to college, and I was in a brown space. I immersed myself….It felt like a space that I belonged in. That was my undergraduate experience.”
The experience at Northridge was formative to her future and highly lauded research on Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and equity in higher education. She literally wrote the book on HSIs: Becoming Hispanic-Serving Institutions: Opportunities for Colleges & Universities (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019), winner of the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education Book of the Year Award in 2020. She went on to edit the book Hispanic-Serving Institutions in Practice: Defining "Servingness" at HSIs (IAP, 2020) and recently published Transforming Hispanic-Serving Institutions for Equity & Justice (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2023).
Garcia brings this expertise and national renown to Berkeley School of Education where she joined the faculty in July as a full professor. She was previously an associate professor in the department of Educational Foundations, Organizations, and Policy at the University of Pittsburgh.
At Berkeley, Garcia looks to continue to advance this research as well as the university’s efforts toward becoming an HSI in the meaningful ways she has identified as critical for students and institutions. In addition to research and teaching, Garcia will also serve as the inaugural Faculty Director of the Latinx Thriving Initiatives at UC Berkeley.
“Her unparalleled expertise will lead us as we continue building a community-centered culture of belonging across campus,” said Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Dania Matos.