Two USU members have earned the coveted Seal of Excelencia, which recognizes institutions that intentionally serve and demonstrate positive outcomes for Latinx students. The University of Texas at San Antonio and the University of Illinois at Chicago join twelve other trailblazers in this field, as recognized by Excelencia in Education.
Serving over 16,000 Latinx students annually, the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) strives to go beyond their call as a Hispanic-Serving Institution to enact intentional policies and practices that dismantle institutional inequities for Latinx students. UTSA also partners with local school districts and conducts targeted recruitment campaigns in areas with large Latinx populations in order to streamline the P-20 pipeline for Latinx students. In addition to dual credit and TRIO programs, UTSA’s PREP (pre-freshman engineering program) identifies, enrolls, and prepares middle and high school students for STEM majors and careers. Once students are on campus, UTSA’s Classroom to Career Initiative reimagines the delivery of experiential learning to link marketable skills and career success. The initiative utilizes a cross-campus framework to prepare UTSA students for life after graduation.
Founded in 1975 at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), the Latino American Recruitment and Educational Services (LARES) program provides tutoring, mentoring, advising, supplemental instruction, extracurricular opportunities, and scholarships to more than 3,300 Latinx students. The work of this program, in addition to almost 125 other recommendations from eight task forces to improve outcomes for Latinx students, has resulted in dramatic increases in graduation rates for participating Latinx students. UIC has also invested in Latinx faculty representation through pipeline programs for Ph.D. students, underrepresented scholars, and faculty interested in university administration.
All institutions awarded the Seal must demonstrate commitment to Latinx student success in the areas of data, practice, and leadership. Among the criteria used to award the Seal, institutions must have shown evidence of effectiveness and intentionality in institutional practices, positive results for student progress in institutional data, dedication to a thriving campus environment, and leadership strategies that articulate an institutional focus on Latinx student success.
This announcement comes during Hispanic Heritage Month, a time dedicated to honor the contributions of Latinx communities to our nation and society. Hispanic and Latinx students are enrolling in college at higher rates than their Black and White peers. In 2018, 510,000 more 18-24 year old Latinx students enrolled in an undergraduate program than 2014, an increase of over 15%. The University of Texas at San Antonio and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s efforts exemplify the importance of adapting college campuses to meet the needs one of the fastest-growing student populations.
These institutions join two other USU members in receiving this honor. The University of Texas at El Paso and Florida International University earned the Seal of Excelencia in 2019.