University is one of only 10 institutions in the country to join group verified as intentionally serving Latino students

  Thursday, October 28, 2021

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – OCT. 29, 2021 - Excelencia in Education, the nation’s premier authority on efforts accelerating Latino student success in higher education, today announced that The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley has been certified with the Seal of Excelencia for 2021.

UTRGV is one of just 10 institutions in the country to earn the Seal of Excelencia certification this year.

The national announcement was made this morning by Excelencia in Education during a press conference at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.

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UTRGV is one of just 10 institutions in the country to earn the Seal of Excelencia certification this year. The 2021 cohort of 10 institutions joins a prestigious group of 14 other Seal-certified institutions focused on a commitment to intentionally SERVE Latino students.

U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary James Kvaal delivered remarks at the event.

The 2021 cohort of 10 institutions joins a prestigious group of 14 other Seal-certified institutions focused on a commitment to intentionally SERVE Latino students.

"Earning the Seal of Excelencia is a monumental distinction for UTRGV, as we take great pride in accelerating Latino student success in the Rio Grande Valley and beyond," said UTRGV President Guy Bailey. "This is a great testament to the hard work and dedication of our students, faculty and staff.

"We are proud to have achieved this certification that recognizes our programs and efforts dedicated to increasing the number of Latino students who, ultimately, earn a degree and go on to help their communities thrive."

Deborah Santiago, co-founder and CEO of Excelencia in Education, said UTRGV’s designation is a recognition of its effect on the community.

"The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and the Seal-certified institutions articulated and demonstrated they are modeling the behavior we need to see to accelerate Latino student success," she said. "They are having a measurable impact in changing the face of higher education."

Of the thousands of colleges and universities across the country, the 135 presidents and chancellors of the 170 institutions in the organization’s network, Presidents for Latino Students Success, enroll one in four of all Latino students in higher education. And these institutions account for one in three of all Latino graduates.

"These 24 Seal-certified institutions are trendsetters," Santiago said. "Combined, they enrolled 10 percent of all Latino college students and graduated 12 percent of all Latinos in the United States. That is powerful and says a lot about their intentionality."

An institution earns the Seal of Excelencia by demonstrating alignment across the three core areas of data, practice and leadership, which show:

  • Evidence of effectiveness and intentionality in institutional practices serving Latino students.
  • Positive momentum for Latino student progress in their data.
  • 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 UTRGV, the other 2021 Seal-certified institutions are:

  • California State University, Fresno (Fresno State).
  • California State University, Fullerton (CSUF).
  • Miami Dade College (MDC).
  • San Diego State University (SDSU).
  • Texas A&M University – San Antonio (TAMUSA).
  • University of California, Merced (UCM).
  • University of California, Riverside (UCR).
  • University of Central Florida (UCF).
  • Wilbur Wright College (WWC).

The Seal is not a ranking, nor an award. It is a rigorous verification process that culminates with certification, and is part of Excelencia’s tactical and systemic approach 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.

Excelencia began Seal certification in 2019 as one of the organization’s transformational strategies to lead colleges and universities to go beyond simply enrolling Latino students. The Seal provides the means to use data and practice to instill intentionality in serving Latino students.

"We are proud that by creating the Seal of Excelencia, we have catalyzed a transformation in higher education," said Sarita Brown, Excelencia’s co-founder and president. "It is gratifying to see that, even during a pandemic and national reckoning for social justice, we doubled the number of institutions who were Seal-certified this year. That shows a need and real desire to accelerate Latino student success. Excelencia shows how institutions can lead the way through these challenging times."

The 10 institutions earned Seal certification by demonstrating specific inclusive strategies, implementing programs with evidence of effectiveness, and registering results that showed they are intentionally serving Latino students among all of their students. For examples of how the institutions are intentionally serving Latino and other post-traditional students, visit the Excelencia website.

"Excelencia sees more institutions are striving to hold themselves accountable to intentionally serve Latino students with the Seal of Excelencia," Brown said. "The institutions that earned it – as well as those striving to earn it – have told us that the Seal application process led to growth and institutional changes to better serve Latino students and all students

"What they are accomplishing is the student success this country needs in order for the growing Latino population to be the educated workforce and engaged civic leaders our country needs, now and in the future," Brown continued. "This is the reason we started the Seal of Excelencia in 2018. Now, it is here, and everyone can see the results happening in real time. This is a movement that is proving, unequivocally, it can be done."


Excelencia in Education accelerates Latino student success in higher education by promoting Latino student achievement, conducting analysis to inform educational policies, and advancing institutional practices while collaborating with those committed and ready to meet the mission.

Launched in 2004 in the nation’s capital, Excelencia has established a network of results-oriented educators and policymakers to address the U.S. economy’s needs for a highly educated workforce and engaged civic leaders.

For more information, visit:


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.