Excelencia in Education, an organization dedicated to accelerating Latinx student success, awarded the University of Arizona with the “Seal of Excelencia” for its commitment to Latinx students’ futures.
Awarded to just nine institutions, the Seal of Excelencia recognizes institutions that go above and beyond to assist LatinX students in advancing their academic and professional careers. Excelencia in Education evaluated qualifying institutions on the following criteria: alignment of data and practice in serving Latinx students; strategies and practices that have been institutionalized in serving Latinx students; and evidence of effectiveness and intentionality in institutional practices in serving Latinx students.
The organization asked each applying institution to provide at least three examples or evidence of programs and services for each criterion, according to Assistant Vice Provost for Hispanic-Serving Institution Initiatives Marla Franco.
“Being a land grant institution, and now obviously one that has been federally designated as a Hispanic-serving institution, I think the next most important question is: now that we certainly have a notable enrollment of this student population, how well are we serving them while they’re here?” Franco said. “That really allows for self-reflection as an institution. To think about and take stock of the ways in which we are excelling in providing them with the right academic support, meeting them where they’re at in their educational journey, thinking about ways that might be particularly culturally relevant to provide support to them. It helps us be a much more reflective institution, which helps us be a better institution.”
This isn’t the first recognition the University of Arizona has been awarded for its service to Latinx students, either. In April of last year, the U.S. Department of Education classified the institution as a Hispanic-Serving Institution in recognition of their successful efforts to enroll Hispanic students.
“Serving Latinx and Hispanic students is central to our mission as Arizona’s land-grant university and status as a Hispanic-Serving Institution,” UA President Robert Robbins said in a statement. “We are committed not only to enrolling LatinX and Hispanic students, but to serving them and providing them a welcoming environment conducive to learning where they can attain a degree that prepares them for lives of purpose and passion after they graduate.”
Resources for expanding Latinx students’ academic success are as important as ever. According to Excelencia in Education, 23 percent of Latinx students have earned an associate’s degree, compared to 47 percent of white and 32 percent of African American adults. Additionally, 54 percent of Latinx students obtain a bachelor’s degree within four years, compared to 63 percent for white students.
The Seal of Excelencia recognizes institutions like the University of Arizona for implementing strategies and programs to mitigate this educational gap.
“As we continue to see this population increase in representation throughout the nation – but absolutely specific to the state of Arizona – as we try and meet some of these societal goals for the nation or the state of Arizona or even relate to the region of southern Arizona, if we’re not ensuring access and high-quality higher education opportunities, it’s definitely at the detriment of our state, of our nation, and of our community,” Franco said.