The University is one of only 10 institutions in nation to join trendsetting group verified as intentionally serving Latino students.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 29, 2021) – Excelencia in Education, the nation’s premier authority on efforts accelerating Latino student success in higher education, announced today that Fresno State has been certified with the 2021 Seal of Excelencia

The national announcement was made this morning by Excelencia in Education during a press conference at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. James Kvaal, the U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary, delivered remarks. Fresno State is one of just 10 institutions nationwide to earn Seal of Excelencia certification this year. 

The 10 trendsetting institutions join a prestigious group of 14 other Seal-certified institutions ensuring America’s future through their unwavering commitment to intentionally serve Latino students, while serving all.

“Today’s announcement that Fresno State has earned the prestigious Seal of Excelencia is a monumental achievement,” said Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval. “This designation validates our ongoing commitment to closing education equity gaps for our talented students, through intentional efforts and proven services. This honor validates the determined leadership of our faculty and staff, which maximizes the success of our students. I’m proud that the Seal of Excelencia distinguishes Fresno State within a select nationwide group of colleges and universities.”

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. 

Certification is acknowledged by Excelencia for three years. Institutions certified with the Seal of Excelencia in 2021 will have the opportunity to reapply for this certification in 2024.

Deborah Santiago, co-founder and CEO of Excelencia in Education, said, “Fresno State and the Seal-certified institutions articulated and demonstrated they are modeling the behavior we need to see to accelerate Latino student success. They are having measurable impact in changing the face of higher education.”

The proof is in the numbers. 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. More importantly, these institutions account for one in three of all Latino graduates.

Santiago added, “These 24 Seal-certified institutions are trendsetters. Combined, they enrolled 10% of all Latino college students and graduated 12% of all Latinos in the U.S. That is powerful and says a lot about their intentionality.”

An institution earns the Seal 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.

The other 2021 Seal-certified institutions are:

  • California State University, Fullerton
  • Miami Dade College
  • San Diego State University
  • Texas A&M University – San Antonio
  • University of California, Merced
  • University of California, Riverside
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  • Wilbur Wright College

The Seal is not a ranking, nor an award. It is a rigorous verification process that culminates with certification. It 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.
  • Supporting America’s civic and workforce needs by effectively preparing Latinos, now the nation’s second-largest ethnic population.

“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 amongst all of their students. For examples of how the institutions are intentionally serving their Latino students, visit the Excelencia website

In his speech this morning in Washington, D. C., Jimėnez-Sandoval concluded: “I’ll leave you with one last thought: Fresno State has over 15 years of being a [Hispanic-Serving Institution]. We provide an extensive network of services that are focused on the success of our students — and many of these services are specific to Latinx students. With the Seal of Excelencia, we will cement two components:

  • “To fully embrace and vocalize the importance of being an HSI focused on the success of our Latinx population. 
  • “As an AANAPISI university [Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution], to embark on a journey of empowering our Southeast Asian students, who comprise 13% of our population. We will also address the disparities in graduation rates we experience with our African American population. 

“Yes, the Seal of Excelencia opens up the space to lift all boats at once.” 


About Excelencia in Education

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: