ACC awarded prestigious national Seal of Excelencia

Austin Community College (ACC) was awarded the national Seal of Excelencia by Excelencia in Education during an awards reception Thursday, June 20, for its positive role in serving Latino students.

“ACC is committed to the intentional and critical work that we must do to close equity gaps. The success of our Latino students is imperative to the college and our community as a whole,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC president/CEO. “It takes a concerted effort from the top, down to better understand students' needs. Together, we have developed innovative learning strategies, personalized support systems, and wraparound services that empower our Latino students. We are honored to be recognized with the Seal of Excelencia and will continue to grow the systems and services that best serve our Latino community. When our students succeed, our entire community thrives.”

Only nine schools nationwide earned the prestigious certification which recognizes high levels of commitment and effort to serve Latino students successfully.

“At Excelencia, we know that institutions and communities that intentionally measure their postsecondary Latino student success and use evidence-based practices both serve these students well and serve as catalysts for substantive, positive change in public policy,” says Sarita Brown, Excelencia in Education president. “Through the Seal certification process, we provide a platform for colleges and universities to reflect on their current impact, practices, and policies and implement new and better ones that respond to Latino students’ realities. Ultimately this serves all students.”

The Hispanic student population at ACC is the college’s fastest-growing demographic, currently totaling 37 percent of the total student body. In fall 2018, the college enrolled nearly 15,000 Hispanic students, up 20.4 percent from fall 2014.

The college is certified as a Hispanic Serving Institution, a federal designation indicating the college maintains 25 percent or greater full-time equivalent Hispanic enrollment.

“Having a higher education is vital to succeed in today’s global economy,” says Deborah Santiago, Excelencia in Education CEO. “If institutions aren’t effectively serving our Latino students, we lose a vital source of talent for our workforce and civic leadership. Institutions that strive for and most particularly those that earn the Seal, have demonstrated their capacity to grow our country’s highly-skilled workforce and develop leaders —in other words, these institutions are ensuring America’s future.

Winners were selected for their alignment of data and practice in serving Latino students, strategies and practices that have been institutionalized in serving Latino students, and evidence of effectiveness and intentionality in institutional practices.

Other institutions to earn a 2019 Seal of Excelencia include:

  • Arizona State University

  • California State University Channel Islands

  • El Paso Community College (Texas)

  • Florida International University

  • Grand Valley State University (Michigan)

  • South Texas College

  • University of Arizona

  • University of Texas-El Paso

The Seal draws on Excelencia’s 15 years of experience in identifying and developing best practices in ensuring the graduation and long-term success of Latino college students. Currently, the proportion of Latinos who graduate within six years is 10% lower in comparison to their non-Latino White peers. The gap is even greater, at 14 percentage points, when comparing four-year graduation rates (National Center for Education Statistics at the U.S. Department of Education, NCES).