Campus earns prestigious seal for commitment to serving Latinx students

To: UCSC Community

From: Chancellor Cindy Larive

I am so proud to announce that this morning UC Santa Cruz will be granted the prestigious 2022 Seal of Excelencia for outstanding commitment to serving Latinx students. We are working tirelessly to provide the environment and support that allows our students to raise the trajectory of their lives, and I am thrilled that our institutional efforts are being recognized. I traveled to Washington, D.C., with Charis Herzon and Juan Poblete, two campus leaders deeply involved with our Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) initiatives, to take part in today’s formal announcement by the national nonprofit organization Excelencia in Education. I hope that you will tune in to a livestream of the event that’s just about to begin.

Receiving the seal is the end result of a rigorous application process. Institutions must apply for this recognition and document their efforts to serve students. Being a recipient is a great achievement. For our campus, it is validation of the focused work we began in 2015 when we launched our very first initiatives as an HSI. It speaks to our ongoing commitment to advance student success by improving retention and graduation rates and closing equity gaps. Our HSI leadership team, our Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning, our Student Success and Equity Team, and so many faculty and staff across our campus have led us to this moment, and I am excited for them and for all of our students. This work helps to fulfill our mission as an HSI and allows us to better serve our entire student body.

Excelencia in Education established the seal four years ago as a way to recognize institutions that strive to go beyond enrollment figures and intentionally focus on what Latinx students need to succeed. There are roughly 560 HSIs in the United States, as well as other colleges and universities that serve Latinx students without the HSI designation, and only 30 total have received the seal. Institutions must demonstrate accountability or positive momentum in a half-dozen areas ranging from student retention to degree completion, while also showing effective institutional practices, a strong culture of servingness for Latinx students, and general leadership in advancing Latinx student success.

That our efforts measure up is extremely satisfying. We are one of just 21 Hispanic-Serving Institutions in the United States that is also an R1 university, which designates very high research activity. Of these 21 institutions, only four have both HSI and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution designations and are also members of the prestigious Association of American Universities. That is a great responsibility, and one that we strive to live up to.

Receiving the Seal of Excelencia is a collective honor for UC Santa Cruz, and would have been impossible without the hard work of HSI Initiatives Director Charis Herzon and Professor Emerita of Psychology Catherine Cooper who led our Seal of Excelencia application team. I am grateful for their months-long effort, and for the work of our entire HSI team and Leadership Committee, as well as faculty and staff campuswide.

In closing, thank you to all in our campus community —  students and staff, faculty and friends, alumni and community partners — who work tirelessly toward educational equity and justice. Together we are making a difference. Our work, though, is not finished. We continue to look for ways to serve our students and their communities, ensuring positive change as well as personal and professional success long after students have left our campus.