The idea behind creating a center for Latinx students, faculty, and staff on the campus of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill began at the start of the 21st Century with the increasing number of Latinx students being admitted to the university. Over the next ten years, the number of Latinx students and faculty began to make their presence known at the university and the idea for a center grew from being a desire to becoming a necessity.
In 2009, former UNC Provost Bernadette Gray-Little convened a task force that recommended the formation of the Carolina Latina/o Collaborative as a first step toward creating a full-fledged Center in the near future. The Collaborative would be a program under the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs with the idea of incubating it into a full fledge center one day. The Collaborative was formed with offices and classroom access at Craig North Residence Hall in the Spring of 2009. Latinx students and faculty would have use of these facilities to create original programming and address issues facing the community on campus. From its inception, the Collaborative under the leadership of Josmell Perez, as its coordinator, was a success in developing new programs aimed at students and faculty and creating cultural events that would enhance the profile of Latinx students, faculty, and the culture on campus. In a short time, the Collaborative racked up a growing and prominent list of achievements including:
- The Collaborative, along with the Carolina Hispanic Association, created the first Latina/o Alumni Reunion to celebrate the growing identity of Latinas/os on campus.
- The Collaborative organized UNC’s Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration, which consists of more than 30 events involving more than 30 student organizations, departments and units on campus and brings together more than 400 students.
- The Collaborative created a new mentoring program called the Latina/o Mentoring Program, which involves a UNC student peer mentor, a faculty mentor, and a staff mentor. The program currently has 405 mentees and 56 mentors with a virtual component consisting of 27 mentors across the country, all volunteers.
The achievements of the Collaborative in a short time with limited resources and the continued growth of Latinx students on campus showed that the Collaborative needed to grow into a stand-alone center. In addition, while the idea of a Collaborative was successful it had outgrown its structure as a program in the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.
In 2014, Associate Professor Paul Cuadros, Hussman School of Journalism and Media, created and led a committee to propose the Collaborative become a full-fledged center under the UNC Centers and Institutes Review Committee in the Office of the Provost. Cuadros led a team of students, faculty, and staff to draft a proposal to create a center with a budget.
In April 2016, the UNC Centers and Institutes Review Committee approved the proposal to create a UNC Carolina Latinx Center. Shortly thereafter, UNC Provost Jim Dean approved the recommendation to establish a Latinx Center and recommended approval to Chancellor Carol Folt and the Board of Trustees. But final approval for the center was held at that time. In January 2019, final approval for the Center was granted by Chancellor Carol Folt during her exit and approval was given by the Board of Trustees. Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz shepherded the final stages for formal approval of the Center.
On October 4, 2019, ten years after the conception of the Collaborative, the UNC Carolina Latinx Center was launched with offices in Abernathy Hall.