AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin has earned the prestigious Seal of Excelencia, which is granted to a small group of colleges and universities committed to accelerating Latino student success.
UT Austin is one of just five institutions to receive the seal this year from Excelencia in Education, the nation’s authority in efforts related to Latino student success. It is one of 14 institutions to receive the seal since it was introduced in 2019 — and one of only two members of the Association of American Universities (AAU), which represents the nation’s premier research universities.
The designation highlights the university’s ongoing commitment to Latino students. It coincides with the recent announcement that Latino student enrollment has topped 25% for the first time ever this fall, which qualifies UT Austin for consideration as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. The university also reported record graduation rates for Latino, Black, first-generation and Pell Grant-eligible students.
“UT Austin is deeply committed to supporting the academic success of Latino students in higher education and making this a more welcome and inclusive campus for all students,” said UT Austin President Jay Hartzell. “The Seal of Excelencia recognizes this commitment and will help us expand our strategic efforts to support Texas students. I thank Excelencia in Education and look forward to working with Excelencia to promote Latino success both on our campus and across the state and nation.”
Other institutions that received the seal this year are California State University, Sacramento; Long Beach City College; the University of Illinois at Chicago; and UT’s sister institution, The University of Texas at San Antonio. The University of Arizona is the other AAU school that has received the seal, which it did in 2019.
“Accelerating Latino student success requires institutions to go beyond enrollment and show intentionality and impact in serving students,” said Deborah Santiago, co-founder and CEO of Excelencia in Education. “The University of Texas at Austin and the other four certified institutions set the pace for much needed institutional transformation and are confronting structural barriers and inequities of longstanding.”
The Seal of Excelencia is neither a ranking nor an award but a certification that is granted after a detailed review and verification process. It reflects Excelencia in Education’s commitment to closing the education equity gap; meeting a goal of 6.2 million Latino students attaining college degrees by 2030; and supporting America’s civic and workforce needs by effectively preparing Latinos, now the nation’s second-largest ethnic population.
To receive the seal, universities must demonstrate:
- Evidence of effectiveness and intentionality in institutional practices serving Latino students
- Positive momentum for Latino student progress
- Dedication to transforming the institution into an environment where Latino students thrive
- Strategies in leadership that clearly articulate institutional focus on advancing Latino student success
In addition to its growth in Latino enrollment, UT Austin has:
- Expanded recruitment efforts across the state and developed mentor-like relationships with admitted Latino students to deliver student-specific information and enrollment support
- Brought together faculty and staff members, students and alumni to engage Latino students directly in their communities
- Developed specific programs to attract and support students in disciplines across campus, including computer science, engineering and business
“Providing colleges and universities with the means to reflect how they intentionally serve Latino students while serving all students, and advancing this during a global pandemic and national reckoning for social justice, is how Excelencia leads the way through these challenging times,” said Sarita Brown, Excelencia’s co-founder and president, who is also a Texas Ex.