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Seal of Excelencia Certified Institutions

Seal of Excelencia certified institutions have been able to articulate and demonstrate they are modeling the behavior we need to see to accelerate Latino student success. They are having measurable impact in changing the face of higher education.

Deborah Santiago, CEO, Excelencia in Education

 

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Excelencia in Education recognized these colleges and universities for intentionally SERVING Latino students and for demonstrating positive student outcomes. Learn more about what the Seal of Excelencia is and why it matters. 

See what institutional leaders say about earning the Seal of Excelencia certification.

 

24 Seal of Excelencia Certified Institutions Logos

 

Arizona State University (ASU)

Certified: 2019-2022

ASU, a public research university with campuses across Arizona, serves over 100,000 undergraduates and postgraduates—including a growing number of Latinos.

In receiving the Seal of Excelencia, ASU President Michael Crow emphasized the importance of Latino students to the university’s mission noting, “One quarter of our first-year class are Latinx students and thousands of degrees are being earned by Latinx graduates, all of whom meaningfully enrich our ASU community through their personal drives, valuable perspectives, experiential insights, and their dedication to giving back to the community, both now and in the future.”

Two Examples of SERVING: An Inclusive Institution through support systems and partnership

ASU was recognized in part for its programs that seek to improve retention among undergraduates, including the choice to make support systems more readily available by housing students of similar majors in the same communities. Additionally, the university offers self-study on the state of the transfer process at ASU—a study that resulted in an action plan that will provide more support to help transfers succeed once they arrive.

ASU has efforts to improve college readiness with its American Dream Academy (ADA)—a program that has graduated more than 40,000 parents and students across Arizona. As ASU’s Vice President of Outreach Partnerships Edmundo Hidalgo noted, the ADA shows families “the pathway for college access and success. It’s a program that has shown the earlier we engage with families and students… the more likely that they will come to postsecondary education.”

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Click here to view the ASU institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

Austin Community College (ACC)

Certified: 2019-2022

ACC serves over 100,000 students in Austin and its surrounding communities.

In receiving the Seal of Excelencia, ACC’s President and CEO, Richard Rhodes, noted how the College has made serving Latino students a central focus: “The success of our Latino students is imperative to the college and our community as a whole. It takes a concerted effort from the top down to better understand students' needs. Together, we have developed innovative learning strategies, personalized support systems, and wraparound services that empower our Latino students.”

Two Examples of SERVING: Serving the Whole Community through advising and course design

ACC has a close partnership with high schools struggling with the lowest high school to college transition rates. In these traditionally underserved schools, ACC’s recruitment teams host college-going events and intentionally support students as they move through the application process. But ACC’s work doesn’t end with applicants. The college has worked to improve retention as part of its Strategic Plan. ACC has increased advising efforts for historically underserved students, finding that Hispanic students with more than one advising session saw a 12-percentage point impact lift. ACC’s intentional efforts have paid off—in the last few years, Hispanic retention rate has increased by 4 percentage points.

Retention is critical, but so is student performance—and ACC’s Student Success Course teaches inexperienced students study skills, time management, and career exploration. As a result of the Student Success Course, Latinx students had significantly higher Fall-to-Spring persistence rates than those not enrolled in the course.

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Click here to view the ACC institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI)

Certified: 2019-2022

CSUCI, a campus of the California State University system, serves over 7,000 students, half of whom identify as Hispanic or Latino.

In receiving the Seal of Excelencia, CSUCI highlighted the advantages of intentionally serving the historically underserved Latino community, noting, “We have benefitted greatly from the diverse perspectives of our Latino students and their communities in ways that enrich the academic culture for all students. We have shifted our teaching and learning landscape to one that is deeply committed to being culturally responsive and to realizing a collective vision for equity and inclusion that extends to every corner of our university.”

Two Examples of SERVING: A Roadmap for Success through Transfer and Advising

CSUCI stood out in part for its forward-thinking approach to the transfer experience. With nearly 51% of its undergraduate population comprised of transfer students, CSUCI has developed a regional strategy for increasing Latino student transfer while supporting their success. Their secret? Shared responsibility. They recognize that for transfer students, a degree doesn’t always happen in four years, and many transfers earn credits at two or three community colleges. CSUCI partnerships with local community colleges help align practices, policies, and curriculum in a regional system that recognizes the contributions of both the two-year and four-year systems to a college degree.

Additionally, CSUCI has invested in advisory programs that work to ensure the success of Latino students. Peer mentors have helped reduce the percentage of Latino students not in good standing to just 9%, a decline of three percentage points. At the same time, advisory programs work with students to build degree roadmaps for students, helping them develop their skills with core classes and check off all prerequisites so they achieve their degrees in a timely manner. Taken together, CSUCI’s intentional commitment to serving Latinos has helped raise two-year graduation rates for Latino transfer students.

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Click here to view the CSUCI institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

California State University, Fresno (Fresno State)

Certified: 2021-2024

Fresno State enrolls over 19,000 undergraduates and is the largest 4-year institution in California’s San Joaquin Central Valley, a heavy agricultural region. Of students, 55% are Latino and 67% are first generation college students. Fresno State charges the lowest fees in the California State University system to remain affordable since 41% of entering students come from families with incomes below $48,000.

Two examples of intentionally SERVING: Transfer innovation in teacher education and Post-graduation success

Fresno State’s South Valley Integrated Teacher Education Program (ITEP) advances its commitment to innovative programs that contribute to students’ lifelong success. ITEP is a transfer program and addresses the critical need for qualified teachers by helping future teachers from South Valley complete the first two years of their program at one of three local community colleges and their remaining coursework in an accelerated two-year program at Fresno State’s Visalia campus. About 70% of ITEP participants are Latino and students are able to complete their BA and teaching credential 1.5 years faster than non-ITEP students and save the one-hour trip to Fresno State several times per week. Further, ITEP students saw much higher two-year graduation rates than their peers, with 83% of the 2020 cohort graduating in two years compared to 70% of general Liberal Studies transfers and 37% of all university transfers from the same cohort.

The university supports post-graduation success by providing worked-based experiences for students through collaboration with business partners. The Valley Industry Partnership for Cooperative Education (VIP) program offers a paid internship program to engineering, construction management and industrial technology students. Students complete two, six month internships throughout their college careers. This allows students to gain the necessary experience to be “job-ready” when they enter the workforce upon graduation. The program supports the infrastructure and growth of Central California by producing graduates who understand the technological challenges in modern agriculture and manufacturing. The VIP program is funded by the 28 companies that pay a membership fee in order to be included in the program and get connected with quality interns. In the last four years, the program has scaled up to add 10 new participating companies. Since 2016, almost 40% of students in the program have been Latino and their graduation rate in the program is 72%, compared to the 48% rate for all students in the College of Engineering.

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Click here to view the Fresno State institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

California State University, Fullerton (Cal State Fullerton)

Certified: 2021-2024

Cal State Fullerton enrolls more than 40,000 students, of which 46% are Hispanic and 70% receive financial aid. The university is No. 2 in the state and No. 4 in the nation for awarding bachelor’s degrees to Hispanic students. Cal State Fullerton leverages partnerships with the local community to provide research opportunities, internships, and other hands-on learning experiences for students.

Two examples of intentionally SERVING: Cohort-based scholar programs and representative faculty recruitment

The Center for Scholars (CFS) provides direct and indirect support to enable students to focus on their academics through a combination of scholarship aid, comprehensive programming, and wraparound services for student success. Every academic year, cohort-based scholar programs serve nearly 500 students; over 60% are Latinx. Each scholar group has designated advisers who regularly meet with students to assess their needs and provide academic and socio-emotional support. Each program also has access to emergency funding that alleviates financial pressures related to basic needs and provides other support services such as specialized academic advising, student life activities, mentoring, and campuswide connections. The program sees strong persistence rates for CFS students, with over 90% of Latinx students persisting to the next academic year. First-year retention rates are also essential to note, with a 91% average year-one retention rate for first-year Latinx students and the average year-two retention rate for first-year Latinx students in CFS is 92% over three years.

Cal State Fullerton’s strategic faculty recruitment and hiring initiative supports the representation of Latinx faculty and administration. The initiative infuses high-impact practices into the search process by providing colleges and departments with in-depth training and support on such topics as diversification of applicant pools, anti-bias techniques, and equitable and inclusive candidate evaluation. This benefits Latinx students by raising awareness of the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion among faculty; demonstrating the university’s commitment to inclusive excellence in candidate applications, and increasing the overall number of Latinx faculty on campus. CSUF sustains the strategic faculty recruitment and hiring initiative with a full-time position dedicated to this work (faculty diversity officer), $5,000 allocated to departments for each faculty search, and continuous improvement of the associated workshops and training sessions. To date, 191 participants have engaged in the search committee training sessions.The minority faculty new hire rate has risen from 22% in 2017 to 53% in 2020. In spring 2021, 22% of newly hired faculty were Latinx. Efforts continue to ensure Latinx faculty representation is more equitable.

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Click here to view the Cal State Fullerton institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State)

Certified: 2020-2023

Sacramento State enrolls over 31,000 students, of which 56% are students of color. It is designated an HSI and an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI). Hispanics comprise the largest ethnic group (30%) and 58% of its students qualify for Pell Grants.

Two examples of SERVING: Student success through faculty diversity and pro-active academic support programs

Sacramento State understands that Latinx representation among faculty, administration, and staff is critical to Latino student engagement and success. Thus, it has implemented strategies to increase diversity and Latinx representation. The Office of Faculty Advancement, along with the Division of Inclusive Excellence, provide mini-grants to help departments find ways to diversify their applicant pools. Once hired, a robust five-day orientation program exposes all new employees to inclusive teaching methods, support structures for students and general inclusivity practices. In addition, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), intentionally prepares faculty to serve Latinx students through yearlong Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) focused on data analytics and student success, equity, inclusion, and action research.

Sacramento State has established an internal university committee comprised of administrators, staff, faculty, and students that helps distribute funding to programs and processes that increase accessibility, progression, and graduation. Programs and processes are submitted for consideration by faculty, staff, and students. One supported program is the Second Year Success (SYS) program. SYS uses an interventionist holistic approach to support students on Academic Probation. The program targets students who finish their first year with a 2.4 GPA or lower. Students meet with SYS Advisors (students in the Counseling Master’s Program) for multiple sessions. SYS is sustained through a strong partnership with the Master’s in Counseling Program.

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Click here to view the Sacramento State University institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

El Paso Community College (EPCC)

Certified: 2019-2022

EPCC serves nearly 30,000 students across five campuses in the El Paso region, with a majority of students identifying as Hispanic.

In receiving the Seal of Excelencia, EPCC President William Serrata noted the pride the college takes in both enrolling Latinos as well as ensuring they succeed by calling attention to “EPCC’s commitment to advancing student achievement and ultimately serving the country by helping this fastest growing population, also underrepresented in higher education, receive the degrees and certificates that they need to be successful in our community, our state, and in this nation.”

Two Examples of SERVING: Bringing Culture to the Classroom through access and community

As part of the El Paso Collaborative, EPCC’s Operation College Bound program offers critical access to a historically underserved community by gathering college applications, financial aid, and registration resources together for graduating seniors across 23 El Paso high schools. It’s just one indication of EPCC’s intentional commitment to increasing Latino enrollment.

But EPCC understands that Latino enrollment isn’t enough. Their innovative Pasos Program brings culturally responsive teaching strategies into the classroom, training faculty to connect and engage with Latino students to ensure they have the same opportunity to succeed. Critically, the EPCC Faculty Data and Research Team use data to evaluate EPCC initiatives, make improvements, and develop additional programs to ensure student success.

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Click here to view the EPCC institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

Florida International University (FIU)

Certified: 2019-2022

FIU serves over 50,000 students across two campuses in Miami-Dade County, with a majority of students identifying as Hispanic.

In receiving the Seal of Excelencia, FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg noted the benefits of being one of the largest Hispanic-serving universities in the country, saying “It is a part of our DNA, what gives us an edge, and sets us apart. This designation demonstrates our longstanding commitment to build models for success in graduating and retaining students as an urban minority-serving institution.”

Two Examples of SERVING: A Commitment to Success through gateway and transfer

Often, gateway courses can be hurdles to underrepresented students, and can contribute to lower retention rates. But FIU tackled this problem by redesigning these critical courses, making them more accessible for all students. Now, Latino students are far more likely to pass foundational courses like Algebra and continue in their education.

A highlight of FIU’s efforts is their expanded access for transfer students. Their Connect4Success program is a guided transfer pathway that guarantees admission to FIU for all top performers in Florida’s network of community and state colleges. Connect4Success provides a timeline and advisor resources to encourage full-time enrollment. To Latinos and other historically underserved students, this kind of intentional service from FIU can be the difference between dropping out and degree attainment.

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Click here to view the FIU institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

Grand Valley State University (GVSU)

Certified: 2019-2022

GVSU is a public liberal arts university that serves nearly 25,000 students in Allendale, Michigan, with an additional campus in Grand Rapids.

In receiving the Seal of Excelencia, GVSU noted the benefits of a diverse university, saying, “Our campus is richer because of Latino students and the experiences they bring.” Leadership also noted GVSU’s intentional steps that have “created a climate that is conduce to Latino students’ academic, social, and cultural success while continuing to increase retention and persistence towards graduation for Latino students.”

Two Examples of SERVING: Creating a Climate for Diversity through initiative and inclusion

Unlike some of our Seal recipients that are majority-Latino, GVSU’s Latino population makes up less than 10% of its student body. It’s a fact that makes their Latino student initiative so important. Launched in 2012, this data-driven student initiative is a university-wide effort to improve the recruitment and retention of Latinos. As a result, Latino enrollment, transfer, and completion rates have all increased.

GVSU has also committed itself to diversifying its faculty and administration, requiring an Inclusion Advocate in any university search committee. These advocates are intensively trained on inclusive talent, acquisition, selection, and the impact of bias on the hiring process. It’s a focus on inclusion that has become a part of GVSU’s culture. In the last few years, the student government has instituted annual inclusivity trainings, while the faculty senate formed a standing committee to give faculty of color a greater voice in academic governance.

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Click here to view the GVSU institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

Long Beach City College (LBCC)

Certified: 2020-2023

LBCC is the 4th largest community College of the 115 California community colleges serving 26,000 students. Of these, 82% are part time, 56% are Latinx, and over 55% are first generation college-goers. In last 10 years, Long Beach has experienced major shift in demographics that has seen more Latino students. It intentionally and overtly serves Latino students by setting an expectation of equity as a priority.

Two examples of SERVING: Cultural curricular redesign and linking with community partners

Long Beach City College (LBCC) has implemented cultural curriculum audits to increase Latino students’ success by engaging its faculty in four key areas: 1) redesigning course content through a Latino lens; 2) redesigning classroom experiences ensuring that Latino students have the space to engage in the classroom comparably to their peers; 3) redesigning assignments confirming expectations are stated in transparent ways; and, 4) redesigning approaches to assessment by giving student feedback in supportive ways. Core success rates for Latino students in these courses increased at double the rate of Latino students in courses with non-trained faculty.

Long Beach supports student success through engagement with partners and collaboration within the college as well as with the broader community that it serves. An example is the Long Beach College Promise, a partnership between the LBCC, CSU Long Beach and Long Beach Unified School District to work as one system to help Latino and other students transition between institutions. LBCC also established the Center for Community & Industry Partnerships, which connects businesses, city agencies and local organizations with LBCC students and faculty to provide workforce links and opportunities.

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Click here to view the LBCC institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

Miami Dade College (MDC)

Certified: 2021-2024

MDC enrolls almost 90,000 students, and the student population mirrors the county’s population with 72% being Hispanic. In addition, 51% are first generation college students, 43% come from households with incomes below the poverty line, and 78% work while attending college. The college leads Florida in economic mobility and in 2019-20 awarded 16,650 degrees.

Two examples of intentionally SERVING: Honors dual language programs and intentional student guidance

The Honors College Dual Language Program gives our Hispanic students tremendous social and economic advantages in today’s global marketplace by offering classes in both English and Spanish. Research shows that students who are bilingual reap increased cognitive, personal, and social development skills, become more marketable in the workplace, and have expanded job opportunities. The importance of being bilingual cannot be understated at a global scale, but in Miami Dade County where most residents are Hispanic and employers are bilingual as well. This program has become part of the Honor College’s operations and has been fully sustained for years. The program has maintained a 100% fall-to-spring retention rate, higher than any of the other Honors College cohorts at the College. The Dual Language Program’s fall-to-fall retention rate is 98% surpassing the retention rates of the other Honors College cohorts, which range from 72% to 84%. The Dual Language Program completion rates are 95% (Summer 2019 data) compared to 68-72% for the other Honors College cohorts and 90% (Summer 2020 data - during the pandemic) compared to 64-83% for other Honors College cohorts.

Shark Path is an intentional weave of strategies, programs, activities, and interventions that guides students at every stage of their journey from admissions to completion. Serving mainly Hispanic students, Shark Path integrates the three-tiered advisement model with a Pre-College Advisor during the application and onboarding processes, an Assigned Advisor up to the 25% benchmark, and a College Mentor all the way to completion. In the last three years, MDC has served 50,000 students. Shark Path's effectiveness is evident in the increase of enrollment and retention rates.
• The average Fall-to-Spring retention rates increased to 91% for Hispanic students compared to 87% for white non-Hispanic students.
• The average Fall-to-Fall retention rates increased to 75% for Hispanic students compared to 69% for white non-Hispanic students.
• In addition, 94% of Hispanic students declared a program of study with the implementation of Shark Path, and there was an overall increase in 150% completion rate for all students of 5 percentage points (from 31% to 36%).

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Click here to view the MDC institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

San Diego State University (SDSU)

Certified: 2021-2024

Situated near the US/Mexico border, SDSU is both an HSI and a Carnegie Foundation designated institution with High Research Activity. SDSU is the third-largest university in California, serving 35,587 students, 29% Latino, and 29% Pell grant eligible. Its Imperial Valley campus serves a predominantly Latino population, currently 94%.

Two examples of intentionally SERVING: partnerships and faculty hiring

SDSU deliberately fosters collaborative relationships that support transfer processes that benefit Latino students. Admission staff work closely with transfer center directors and counselors, making sure they understand transfer academic pathways to ensure Latino students are supported as they navigate application and enrollment processes. Likewise, the Imperial Valley University Partnership has been a key part of SDSU’s successful transfer strategy. It promotes a higher level of collaboration and coordination within the K-16 pipeline and has resulted in the development of articulation agreements and transfer admission guarantees that streamline the curriculum and expand access for transfer students.

As part of its commitment to increase the number of Latino faculty and staff, SDSU has several strategies. The Building on Inclusive Excellence hiring program requires that candidates considered for hiring demonstrate commitment to serving URM populations, including Latinos. In addition, each academic and administrative unit is required to have a plan for hiring diverse personnel in order to receive approval for future hires. Units must adopt specific strategies to achieve representation that reflects the demographics of SDSU. Three councils were created to support the development and implementation of these plans: an Equity Council that examines diversity at the institutional level; an Inclusion Council that supports diversity within academic affairs; and diversity councils within each college to help ensure the plans are completed and effective.

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Click here to view the SDSU institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

South Texas College (STC)

Certified: 2019-2022

STC serves 32,000 students in the Rio Grande Valley.

In receiving the Seal of Excelencia, STC noted how the college “has benefitted from serving our Hispanic communities in boundless ways,” adding that STC has grown into a catalyst for economic prosperity in the region with the help of Hispanic students “who have excelled despite adversities.” STC’s commitment to intentionally serving Latino students is a key part of that story.

Two Examples of SERVING: Access, Success, & Equity through advising & cultural competency

One of the keys to STC’s success in improving Latino retention was the implementation of Mandatory Advisement for First-Time-in-College students. This program ensures that students meet with an advisor as they register for classes, emerging with an Individualized Educational Plan that prepares them for the road ahead. Additionally, STC increases retention by taking advantage of class time to ensure students are registering for classes in the following semester.

Beyond this, STC has created an environment of cultural competency. Under the concept of familismo, the college creates supportive environments by building culturally relevant spaces for Latino students. But they also understand the needs of their Latino students that goes beyond culture. Their advisors don’t merely register Latino students for the right classes—they help them plan a schedule that will save students money, gas, meals, and time. It’s this full understanding of the needs of an underserved community that gives Latino students at STC an equal chance to succeed.

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Click here to view the STC institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

Texas A&M San Antonio (A&M-SA)

Certified: 2021-2024

Texas A&M University-San Antonio (A&M-SA) was founded to improve educational access to the largely Latino community in the South Side of San Antonio, long underserved and underrepresented in higher education. A&M-San Antonio’s first graduating class of 52 students crossed the stage in 2003. In 2019-20, 78% of its 6,037 undergraduate population and 72% of 1,405 graduates in the Class of 2020 identified as Latino.

Two examples of intentionally SERVING: Network solutions and integrated student-centered pathways

The mission to intentionally serve Latino students continues to be a part of every phase of the development of the university. A 2019 study of Bexar County’s demographics and educational attainment resulted in the formation of the ASPIRE network, which focuses on customized solutions for the needs of each of the seven school districts in the study. Hispanic enrollment in the ASPIRE school districts ranged from 74% to 98%, with all but two above 90%. Educational attainment (BA or higher) by those aged 25 years or older ranged between 5% and 18%, with five districts below 8%, compared to eight non-ASPIRE districts which ranged from 14% to 68%, with six above 34%.

A&M-SA’s student-centered approach meets students where they are with intentional and holistic onboarding pathways based on close collaboration between student support departments across the university. Latino degree completion is predicated on developing sense of belonging through intentional connections with peers, staff, and faculty that include the following practices: 1) academic coaches connect throughout the summer before enrollment and link students to other on-campus resources; 2) Financial Literacy Fellows, trained peer leaders, provide individual Money Coaching sessions; 3) peer leaders are embedded into freshman seminars and attend every class; and, 4) a Faculty Advising Program pairs one faculty member with four incoming students for their entire first year.

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Click here to view the A&M-SA institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

The University of Texas at Austin (UT)

Certified: 2020-2023

The University of Texas at Austin (UT) is an emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution with 24% Hispanic student representation from over 51,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UT uses predictive analysis to ensure it is “student ready” to serve its students from under-resourced backgrounds. It launched a strategic effort to increase its 4-year graduation rate for undergraduates and has made significant strides in increasing Hispanic student graduation over the last five years.

Two examples of SERVING: Building relationships and fostering a sense of belonging

In honoring the cultural values of Latino students, UT builds trusting and authentic relationships with students and their families through connections with staff, faculty, alumni, and current students through regional community gatherings and events such as its Plática Series, Longhorn Futuro: Latinx Success at Texas celebration, and Longhorn for a Day Road Trips. UT also established a new Access and Inclusion unit within the Office of Admissions to comprehensively examine strategies, programs, policies, and events to assess their effectiveness at supporting the enrollment of Latino students. The examination and assessment led to the formalization and expansion of Texas Student Recruiters, UT’s premier recruitment effort where current Latino and African American students connect to prospective and admitted Latino and African American students.

The 360 Connections program places all freshmen students into small communities of 20 students to help them integrate socially, academically, and developmentally that fosters a sense of belonging and builds community for students. The program aids students in the transition from high school to college and helps connect them to people and resources on campus. The small communities include a professional staff and/or faculty member, peer mentors, and upperclassmen. The retention rate of Latino first year students has been impacted positively since the inception of the program, showing comparable rates to all UT’s first year students.

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Click here to view the UT institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA)

Certified: 2020-2023

UTSA is a 4-year public university enrolling approximately 28,000 students, 58% of which are Latino. UTSA strives to move beyond Hispanic serving to Hispanic thriving through intentional policies, practices and support that tackle institutional inequities and accelerate educational success for Latino students.

Two examples of SERVING: Accelerating access and linking the classroom to the workforce

As part of its commitment to enroll Latino students, UTSA conducts targeted recruitment campaigns in geographic areas with large Latino populations throughout Texas. In its local area, the university partners with 12 school districts and five community colleges. Its comprehensive approach includes P-20 pipeline programs such as the following three: 1) Dual Credit, which provides college credit for high school students; 2) TRIO, which provides underrepresented students with opportunities for academic development and promotes college completion; and, 3) PREP (pre-freshman engineering program), which identifies and enrolls middle and high school underrepresented students interested in STEM majors and helps prepare them for advanced studies and careers.

UTSA understands the importance of linking classroom success to life after graduation through experiential learning for historically underserved populations. The university’s Classroom to Career (C2C) Initiative reimagines not only possibilities for experiential learning, but also how such learning is offered to cultivate a culture that builds marketable skills leading to career success. The initiative creates an integrated campus-wide framework for expanding and enhancing experiential learning opportunities for UTSA students to better prepare them post-graduation.

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Click here to view the UTSA institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV)

Certified: 2021-2024

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) is a comprehensive academic institution of higher education located in South Texas, along the Texas-Mexico border. In fall 2020, UTRGV enrolled 27,272 undergraduate students, with a significant proportion of the undergraduate population identifying as first-generation college students. Over 90% of the student body identifies as Hispanic/Latino, mirroring the population of their primary service region.

Two examples of intentionally SERVING: Bilingual institute and tuition support

UTRGV is committed to being a model bilingual, bicultural, biliterate institution and has embraced the historical and cultural heritage of the region it serves by building curricula and programming that reflect the strategic advantages of the region. The Bilingual, Bicultural & Biliterate (B3) Institute has increased courses offered in Spanish or bilingually by almost 12%. The variety of courses and programs provide students whose first or second language is Spanish with the opportunity to master academic content in both Spanish and English.

UTRGV’s overarching financial support strategy maximizes financial support while minimizing student debt. Programs like the UTRGV Tuition Advantage program provide an opportunity for qualified students to have the cost of tuition and mandatory fees covered in their entirety, allowing them to graduate with little or no debt. Additional practices like guaranteed (“frozen”) tuition, capped tuition schedule at 12 hours, and significantly funded work study program has increased retention rates to above 75% for Latino students.

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Click here to view the UTRGV institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

University of Arizona (UA)

Certified: 2019-2022

UA is a public research university that serves over 40,000 students in Tucson, Arizona.

In receiving the Seal of Excelencia, Assistant Vice Provost Marla Franco noted, “Serving Latino students is central to advancing our mission as Arizona’s land-grant university.” Franco stressed that UA is “not only committed to enrolling Latino students, but also to providing them with educationally enhancing and welcoming environments that support their degree attainment and prepare them for lives of purpose and passion after they graduate.”

Two Examples of SERVING: Serving Unique Needs through outreach and campus culture

UA’s work in recruiting Latino students begins with an intentional focus on finding Latino applicants in high schools, community colleges, and adults who are looking to return to school. But it doesn’t end there. UA’s College Academy for Parents (CAP) goes a step further, reaching out to Latino families with a college prep program designed to give parents the tools to help their children succeed in the admissions process and in their education.

On campus, the Guerrero Center helps build a culture where Latino students can feel comfortable, offering a first-year success course that gives Latino students the skills and information they need to thrive in college. The program serves as a place for Latino students to share their experiences, build on their strengths, and take ownership of their own education.

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Click here to view the UA institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

University of California, Merced (UC Merced)

Certified: 2021-2024

Founded in 2005, UC Merced expanded the University of California’s commitment to the San Joaquin Valley, a region approximately 50% Latino. The most diverse of the UC system, UC Merced enrolls 8,194 undergraduates, 58% of which are Latino, 73% are first generation college students, and 63% are Federal Pell Grant recipients. Its most recent 6-year Latino graduation rate is 64% compared to the overall national graduation rate of 58%.

Two examples of intentionally SERVING: Pathway to admission and holistic academic advising

The pathway from admissions to Day 1 on campus ensures students feel a connection with UC Merced and quickly understand the supportive network available to them.UC Merced implements a series of services to drive enrollment and persistence, focusing on both outreach and post submitting their Statement of Intent to Register (SIR). From the Diversity Inclusive Webinar outreach series, to New Student Orientation with a Spanish track, to showcasing Latino student leaders and their organizations, to the Bobcat Calling campaign that minimizes summer melt (and answers questions for first-generation, low-income students) -- the focus is on targeted, tailored, and frequent touchpoints. Student success is targeted through multichannel communication to parents and students, online events and individualized services. Since 2011, applications from Latinos have increased by 83%, and Latinos choose to enroll at a higher rate than all other ethnic groups. Currently, our Latino student enrollment deposits have increased to a total of 1,861 incoming Latino students for the fall of 2021. In 2021 alone, the Bobcat callers in the Bobcat Caller program made 14,983 calls to admitted students and their families. For fall 2020, ethnicity was significantly associated with overall melt. We found that Latino students were less likely to melt overall (19%) than Asian American students (27%). In 2018, rates were not significantly different by group, but by 2019, Latino students had significantly lower melt rates than Asian American students.

The School of Social Science and Humanities (SSHA) is UC Merced’s largest school with about 3,662 students (64% identifying as Latino). SSHA has implemented a multi-pronged academic advising approach for undergraduate academic success consisting of: 1) the Mid-Semester Grade Intervention (a SMART goal check-in for students who have 2 or more non-passing grades); 2) the Academic Difficulty Support Meetings to help students return to good academic standing by the end of the semester; and 3) the Jump Start Your 3rd Year where students receive second-year advising to understand which outstanding degree requirements to complete. The strong Latino representation in SSHA has also increased demand for Latino-specific sponsored events and projects, including the Bilingual Ricardo El Segundo (Spanish Shakespeare), Luce Grant projects to support oral history projects for Spanish speaking communities, and UC Office of the President funded undergraduate research opportunities. SSHA’s comprehensive advising efforts have contributed to higher retention rates compared to university-wide retention rates. In 2019, SSHA had an 86% Latino second year retention rate compared to the 85% Latino retention rate for the university overall. SSHA’s academic advising support coupled with other support services reveal a stable, steady incline in SSHA Latino retention to 2nd year over the past 5 years (from 82% in 2016 to 86% in 2019). The intentionality of this academic advising initiative is intertwined with SSHA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategic plan Goal 1a to increase the representation of underrepresented faculty and staff within the school.

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Click here to view the UC Merced institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

University of California, Riverside (UC Riverside)

Certified: 2021-2024

UC Riverside enrolls more than 22,000 undergraduates, including over 10,000 Chicano/Latino students, 80% of which identify as first-generation. The number of Chicano/Latino graduates has tripled from 942 in 2009-10 to 2,825 in 2019-20, and the 6-year graduation rate for Chicano/Latino undergraduates is 73% compared to the national average of 54%.

Two examples of intentionally SERVING: Integrated transfer path and research opportunities

UCR’s commitment to transfers has been key to its success with enrolling and graduating Chicano/Latino students. The university offers a clear path for community college transfers through a comprehensive set of successful tools and programs that facilitate their application and enrollment, including: UCR Transfer Pathways, a Transfer Admission Guarantee; the Puente Project; Transfer Admission Planner; a Majors Preparation Guide; and, ASSIST, a system that provides up-to-date information on transfer agreements honored by UCR. The Transfer Student Task Force of 2017 built on these programs by establishing a 2:1 enrollment ratio of entering freshmen to community college transfers. This resulted in a 44% increase in Hispanic transfer student enrollment from 2017-18 to 2018-19.

The university offers a number of programs that support Chicano/Latino student completion goals and prepares them for medical school, teacher preparation, and careers of critical need. Programs like the California Alliance for Minority Participation (CAMP), an NSF Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program, the UC Riverside MARC U Star Undergraduate Research Program (U-MARC), and the Mentoring Summer Research Internship Program (MSRIP) serve Latino students by providing research opportunities, financial support, and faculty mentoring. The CalTeach-SMI program partners with local, predominantly Latino school districts to provide mentoring opportunities for future STEM teachers. These programs have contributed to a 48% increase in the graduation of Latino students from 2016-17 to 2020-21.

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Click here to view the UC Riverside institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

University of Central Florida (UCF)

Certified: 2021-2024

At UCF, minoritized students represent 48.5 percent of our student body and student enrollment reflects the area it serves. Latinos make up 29% of its undergraduate enrollment of over 60,000. UCF is one of three Hispanic-Serving Research Institutions in Florida, and believes innovation comes from the meeting of diverse viewpoints.

Two examples of intentionally SERVING: Leadership track and transfer pathway

LEAD is a selective two-year academic leadership development program inclusive of several high-impact practices such as: a cohort-based first-year seminar, a living-learning community, service-learning classes, and a capstone course. As an academic contribution to UCF’s HSI identity, LEAD launched a Latinx Leadership track (U-LEAD) for upperclassmen students (60+ credit hours). These classes provide students with the opportunity to learn a new leadership framework, complete research on Latinx topics, and commit to service-learning opportunities in the Latinx community. Latinx LEAD and U-LEAD students have stronger retention and graduation rates when compared to the general UCF population. The 2019-2020 retention rate for Latinx FTIC students in the LEAD first-year cohort is 95% compared to 92% for the UCF FTIC general population. The 4-year graduation rate for Latinx FTIC students in the LEAD first-year cohort is 58% compared to 46% for the UCF FTIC general population. The 2-year graduation rate for Latinx transfer students in the U-LEAD program (60+ credits) is 22% compared to 16% for UCF transfer students in general.

UCF reduces barriers and ensures the success of Latino transfers through several partnership programs. The DirectConnect to UCF program is a partnership with six Florida state colleges that seeks to reduce barriers for transfer students by offering a guaranteed admissions and transfer readiness program. In addition, success coaching is a practice that embeds UCF trained professionals at partner institutions as success coaches who can assist prospective students with application and enrollment processes. Intentional efforts have also been made to connect more Latino students and their families to resources that facilitate a seamless transfer to UCF, such as the revamped DC website that now includes a language translator to Spanish and other languages. For Fall 2020, 30% of total new enrollment at UCF was DC transfer students, 35% of which are DC Latino students. Also, more than 52% of newly enrolled DC undergraduates were Pell eligible compared to the 30% overall newly enrolled Pell eligible undergraduates.

Click here to view the UCF institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)

Certified: 2020-2023

UIC serves over 21,000 undergraduate students and is a diverse campus that mirrors the city of Chicago’s racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic community. The 2019 incoming student body was over 40% Hispanic, 56% first-generation, and 58% Pell eligible.

Two examples of SERVING: Engaging the campus community and increasing Latinx faculty representation

UIC’s gains on completion stem from the implementation of almost 125 recommendations borne out of extensive work started in 2012 by 8 task forces involving 200 faculty, staff, and students. The impact of this work is evident in LARES, one of UIC’s oldest programs, which now serves more than 3,300 students with tutoring, mentoring, advising, supplemental instruction, internships, leadership opportunities, and scholarships resulting in dramatic increases in graduation rates for participating Latino students.

UIC has also invested in several strategies to increase Latinx faculty representation. Among them are the following four: 1) the Pipeline to an Inclusive Faculty Program recruits and supports outstanding underrepresented PhD students interested in pursuing careers as faculty; 2) the Bridge to the Faculty Program recruits underrepresented scholars with the goal of transitioning them to a faculty position after two years; 3) a Faculty Administrator Leadership Program that provides underrepresented faculty a path to leadership positions in administration; and, 4) a cluster initiative to increase diversity and interdisciplinary culture designed to cultivate diverse academic leadership.

Click here to view the UIC institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP)

Certified: 2019-2022

UTEP, a public research university in El Paso, Texas, serves over 25,000 students and is the second-largest university in the United States to have a majority Latino student population.

In receiving the Seal of Excelencia, UTEP noted, “The University of Texas at El Paso’s greatest success has been our capacity to achieve both access and excellence for a majority Hispanic student population with an unusually broad range of socioeconomic backgrounds.” Critically, UTEP stressed the University’s success in “figuring out how to create opportunities for economically disadvantaged students that both support their needs and provide them with a level of quality that will ensure that when they graduate, they are able to compete with their peers anywhere.”

Two Examples of SERVING: A Commitment to Success through community and data-informed practice

A significant highlight of UTEP’s efforts is their El Paso Collaborative for Academic Excellence. Looking beyond their campus, UTEP has built partnerships with El Paso Community College, local high school districts, and business leaders across El Paso County. For nearly three decades, the Collaborative has worked to improve the educational prospects of El Paso’s students, including enrollment at UTEP.

Of the 3,300 undergraduates who graduated from this majority-Latino university in 2017-2018, 81% completed their baccalaureate degrees with six years, while half completed them within four. This success isn’t an accident. UTEP understands that students have their own educational journeys that are often interrupted or threatened by family, financial, or health challenges. That’s why they focus on data practical offerings, like clear transfer plans, to help students finish their degrees. At UTEP, they are committed to reviewing programs and using data to ensure their students have the best chance to succeed.

Click here to view the UTEP institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.

Wilbur Wright College (Wright College)

Certified: 2021-2024

Wilbur Wright College is an HSI institution in the Northwest of the city of Chicago. Of 6,000 students enrolled in spring 2021, 58% were Hispanic, 7% Black, and 8% Asian. The college awarded 1,900 degrees and certificates in 2019-20 and in 2020 it was also the recipient of the Campus Compact’s Eduardo J Padron award for institutional transformation.

Two examples of intentionally SERVING: Scholarships for progress and college preparation

The Chicago Star Scholarship Program has supported the progress of Latino students’ enrollment, retention, completion and transfer. The scholarship provides tuition and books for degree completion. Embedded transfer partners support and enhance with scholarships the transition of Star scholars to the university. At Wright College, a designated team monitors and tracks Star scholars from the point of recruitment to completion and transfer on a biweekly basis. Latino Star scholar graduates are highlighted in the Transfer Success Stories publication; they serve as inspiration and role models for incoming Latino Stars. We develop a sense of community within the Star scholars to foster engagement within and outside the campus community by hosting key events throughout the semester. The effectiveness of the program is evident in the academic performance of the Stars whose average GPA is 2.9, higher than both the City Colleges of Chicago general student population and other CCC Star scholars. For the Latinx Stars the average GPA is 2.9 as well. The retention rate of the Star scholars at Wright has been over 85% and for Latinx Stars the retention has been 84%, the IPEDS graduation rate has reached 48% and the transfer rate 52% within two years of degree completion. For the Latinx Stars the transfer rate is at 65%.

Wright College has been intentional about providing more Early College opportunities (dual enrollment and dual credit) to more high schools with large populations of Latinx students. More than 1,000 high school students annually participate. Wright recruiters and admissions specialists (bilingual and trained in cultural competencies) work alongside the faculty, administrators and high school teachers to ensure access to information and access to authentic college education to Latinx students. This also involves providing information and support to the families of students. Wright has fifteen Dual Credit high schools partners and many more high schools students participating in the Dual Enrollment program. Wright started offering bilingual programming - Noche de Familia - to highlight college information in Spanish to parents/guardians. Most students are the first in their family to attend college and most students identify as Latinx. The program has resulted in a 34% increase in the total number of Early College Students enrolling for the past five years with an average of 59% identifying as Hispanic for the past five years.

Click here to view the Wright College institutional page which includes Excelencia in Education analysis.