UArizona recertified with Seal of Excelencia for service and commitment to Latino students

UArizona Mall


Excelencia in Education, an organization focused on accelerating Latino student success, has once again recognized the University of Arizona for its service and commitment to Latino students with its Seal of Excelencia, the organization announced Friday.

the Seal of Excelencia

The Seal of Excelencia is a national certification given to higher education institutions who have demonstrated institutional transformation to serve their students, particularly Latino students.

The University of Arizona was one of nine universities to receive the inaugural Seal of Excelencia in 2019. All nine of those universities were recertified for another three years, and six other institutions earned the seal for the first time, bringing the total number of certified institutions to 30.

"It's an honor to be part of the inaugural group of institutions to be recertified with the Seal of Excelencia," said Marla Franco, UArizona assistant vice provost for Hispanic-Serving Institution Initiatives. "This seal reflects the university-wide work in place that supports conditions necessary for Latinx students to thrive. The seal also helps the University of Arizona understand that this work is a continuous journey of intentionally accelerating Latinx student success through data, practice and leadership."

The Seal of Excelencia recognizes UArizona's excellence in enrolling, retaining and providing financial support for Latino students, as well as representing Latinos in administration, faculty and staff. The seal also recognizes that the university has intentionally implemented programs and policies that help continue that success.

The university has also shown that its leaders, strategic plan and institutional culture are dedicated to improving Latino student success. Making the university the premier destination for Hispanic learners, scholars and partners is outlined in an initiative under the university's strategic plan.

UArizona was designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education in 2018 in recognition of its success in enrolling Hispanic students and in the educational opportunities it provides them.

The university's enrollment of students who identify as Hispanic or Latinx – a gender-neutral term for people of Latin American descent – has steadily increased each year. In fall 2021, the latest year with finalized enrollment data, the university enrolled 12,478 Hispanic or Latinx students, or 25.6% of its total enrollment. That's up from 12,114 Hispanic or Latinx students the year before.

"As a Hispanic-Serving Institution, the University of Arizona is dedicated to ensuring that Hispanic and Latinx students thrive during and after their pursuit of a college degree," said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. "This recertification of our Seal of Excelencia shows that our programs, initiatives and employees are making a true difference in the lives of these students. Effectively serving Hispanic and Latinx students also contributes to our goals for all of our students and is a critical expression of our values and mission and I am proud that the university is being recognized for this work."

"Excelencia in Education created the Seal of Excelencia to differentiate institutions that became Hispanic-Serving Institutions because of demography and geography from those that are Hispanic-Serving because of intentionality and impact," said Deborah Santiago, co-founder and CEO of Excelencia. "The seal provides a roadmap for all institutions, led by data, practice and leadership, that does not end with the certification. It supports a path to intentionally making progress in serving Latino students." 

Since 2018, when UArizona was designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, the university's HSI Initiatives office, under Franco's leadership, has created a host of programs aimed at strengthening the way the university serves Hispanic students. Those programs include the HSI Fellows Program, which selects up to 10 faculty and staff each year to lead projects aimed at building the university's capacity as a Hispanic Serving Institution.

Another project under HSI initiatives, called Project Outreach FAMILIA, is a partnership with the College of Education aimed at preparing Hispanic and minority students in pre-calculus to increase the likelihood that they pursue and earn degrees in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines.

The HSI Initiatives office also launched the AZ HSI Consortium, bringing together leaders from all HSIs in Arizona to strengthen their individual and collective capacity to intentionally support Hispanic student success. The consortium held its inaugural meeting last year.

According to data from the National Science Foundation, UArizona is among the nation's top doctorate-granting institutions for Hispanic or Latino students, ranked No. 7 out of 384 institutions that awarded doctoral degrees to students in those populations.

In addition to UArizona, the newly recertified Seal of Excelencia institutions are Arizona State University; Austin Community College; California State University, Channel Islands; El Paso Community College; Florida International University; Grand Valley State University; South Texas College; and University of Texas at El Paso.

The six newly certified institutions are Mercy College; San Antonio College; Texas State University; University of Albany – State University of New York; University of California, Santa Cruz; and University of Texas at Arlington.

Knowledge River named a 2022 Example of Excelencia finalist

The Seal of Excelencia was the second recent recognition for the university from Excelencia in Education. The Knowledge River Program, housed in the School of Information in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, was named a 2022 Example of Excelencia finalist.

Examples in Excelencia aims to highlight evidence-based practices that improve Latino student success in higher education. There were 93 submissions for the recognition this year, with Knowledge River selected as one of 20 finalists.

Knowledge River specializes in educating professionals in the information field who have experience with and are committed to the information needs of communities of color, with an emphasis on Latino, Native American and Black populations.