The School of Latin American & Caribbean Studies



Dr. Ingrid Bircann-Barkey is the founding dean of the School of Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Dr. Bircann-Barkey has over twenty years of experience in higher education in the fields of Spanish, Latin American and Caribbean studies, qualitative research and curriculum development in both, the United States and the Dominican Republic. As an interdisciplinary scholar, Dr. Bircann-Barkey has a wide range of academic and research interests: From foreign language teaching methods to colonial Afro-Latin America, and women’s work in the Caribbean. She has been the recipient of a Ford Foundation Graduate Studies Fellowship in Gender Studies in Global Perspectives as well as outstanding faculty awards. Dr. Bircann-Barkey holds a BA in Anthropology from Columbia University, and a MA and PhD in Spanish/Latin American, Caribbean and U.S. Latino Cultural Studies from the University at Albany-State University of New York (SUNY).


The School of Latin and Caribbean Studies will provide a supportive campus culture to enhance the learning experience of Latino/a-Hispanic students while producing equitable learning outcomes. To ensure that we meet the needs of the Commonwealth’s Latino/a-Hispanic communities in general and its students in particular, VUU has signed a historic partnership with the Virginia Hispanic Foundation (VHF) and the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (VHCC). Together, the program will:

1. Enhance, promote, create and develop educational opportunities, economic programs, cross cultural understanding and diversity inclusion initiatives as well as cultural engagement advocacy for the Hispanic and African American communities at large.

2. Assist socially and economically disadvantaged students to acquire a strong educational foundation.

3. Support the students through resources that VUU and the VHF collectively possess.

Virginia Union University’s commitment to joining forces with the Virginia Hispanic Foundation in advancing higher education opportunities for Hispanic students in the Commonwealth of Virginia marks a key moment in VUU’s dedication to academic excellence, cultural diversity, and student success in today’s global society. By pledging to provide a supportive campus culture to enhance the learning experience of Hispanic students while producing equitable learning outcomes for these students, VUU places itself in the forefront of HBCUs that have committed to become true engines of transformation and innovation in the educational experiences, and in service of African American and Latino/s-Hispanic communities at the national level.

Significance of VUU-VHF Partnership



The mission of the School of Latin American and Caribbean Studies is to provide a nurturing, intellectually challenging and spiritually enriching environment for learning by offering a broad range of educational opportunities that advances liberal arts education, teaching, research, science, technology, continuing education, civic engagement, and international experiences while acknowledging the cultural values and morals of our students of Latino/a-Hispanic heritage.


The major goals of the School of Latin American and Caribbean Studies are to:

1. Expand academic curriculum, student enrollment, and faculty diversity on campus.

2. Sponsor interdisciplinary undergraduate and faculty research.

3. Collaborate with Latino/a-Hispanic communities in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

4. Participate in academic exchange programs with universities and colleges in the United States and abroad.

Academic Programs and Centers

The School of Latin American and Caribbean Studies will offer Bachelor of Arts degrees, and certifications in a variety of interdisciplinary fields.


Center for Latino/a-Hispanic Community Programs

ESL Program


Latin American and Caribbean Studies

U.S. Latino Studies


Majors and Minors


Latin American and Caribbean Studies

U.S. Latino Studies

Spanish, and Spanish for the Professions Tracks: Criminal Justice, Health Professions, Social Work, Psychology



Latin American Studies

Caribbean Studies

Afro-Latin American Studies

U. S. Latino Studies

Virginia Hispanic Population Stats (2019)

· Total Number of Hispanic Students: 208,705

· In grades 9-12: 59,447

· Dropout Rate: 16.5 % (highest in the state)

· Graduation Rate: 80%

* 2018 Selected Cohorts of Hispanic public school graduates (from 14 school districts with Hispanic student populations over 10% of total student population):

· 59% enrolled in higher education (National Average: 67%. Pew Research Center)

· 36% in 4-year public institutions

· 10% 4-yeard private institutions

· 54% in community colleges

National Data (from Pew Research Center):

2017 Total Hispanic Population in US including Puerto Rico: 59 million) =18% of total population

· 29% of Hispanics 25 and over have not completed high school

· 16% of Hispanic adults have at least a bachelor’s degree

· 67% Hispanic high school graduates ages 17-24 were enrolled in higher education

· 3.5 million Hispanics were enrolled in non-profit institutions

· 46% of Hispanic students enroll in 2-year institutions

· Hispanic Serving Institutions enroll 66% of all Hispanic undergraduates

Virginia Union University is the first HBCU in the country to open a school dedicated to the teaching and research of issues related to the peoples and cultures of Latin America, the Caribbean, and U.S. Latino communities. This school will greatly impact cultural diversity on campus and provide resources for students and faculty who self-identify as Latino/Latina, Hispanic, of mixed-heritage or race and who are interested in graduating from VUU with majors or minors that enhance their employability prospects.