CSUN President Erika D. Beck traveled to Washington, D.C., Sept. 29-30 to meet with dozens of other university presidents who are shaping a national agenda to support Latinx/o/a students’ success in higher education.
Beck is part of the “Presidents for Latino Student Success” network, spearheaded by Excelencia in Education, a Washington, D.C.-based research and policy organization that promotes Latinx/o/a student achievement. The group focuses on sharing evidence-based practices to promote this goal.
Excelencia in Education also announced six institutions earned the Seal of Excelencia in 2022 and nine institutions were recertified, for intentionally serving Latino/a students for success based on the use of data, evidence-based practices and effective leadership.
The Seal of Excelencia is a national certification process: it requires schools who apply to submit five years of data in a variety of categories, including enrollment, retention and degree completion among Latino/a students. The evidence must show effectiveness and intentionality in serving Latino students and student progress toward achieving their degrees.
Prior to becoming CSUN’s President, Beck served in the same role at CSU Channel Islands. Under her leadership, the campus earned the inaugural Seal of Excelencia in 2019. CSUN administrators are preparing now to apply for the certification next year.
“We all benefit from the high standards set by the Seal of Excelencia,” Beck said. “The framework for achieving the Seal is guiding our path for our future, including our Road Map to achieve a just and equitable future for all our students. As we focus on serving the communities we share, we are assessing our outreach and retention strategies through the framework provided by Excelencia in Education.”
Amanda Quintero, senior advisor to the president for inclusive excellence, is facilitating the effort of pursuing the Seal across the CSU and contributing her expertise to the institutional planning team at CSUN preparing to apply for the Seal next year. “CSUN is proud to partner with Excelencia on initiatives to authentically serve Latinx/o/a students, the largest minoritized majority population at CSUN, which enhances the capacity of institutions to examine inequities in outcomes for all students,” she said. “Through our partnership with Excelencia, we facilitated an inaugural convening with CSU Presidents leveraging the Seal of Excelencia framework to focus on transforming HSIs across the CSU.”
Individual CSUN programs have been recognized over the years as “Examples of Excelencia” by the national organization. These programs are highlighted for improving Latinx/o/a student success. CSUN programs that have received the honor include the College of Science and Engineering’s mentoring program, AIMS2 (2019) and the Preparing Undergraduates through Mentoring for Ph.Ds (PUMP) program (2016).
In March 2021, CSUN co-hosted a virtual gathering with Excelencia in Education, the CSU, and California Community Colleges on the impact that Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) have on Latino/a student success. Beck also served as a panelist for a national briefing on Hispanic Serving Institutions, an event that was organized by Excelencia in Education.
Excelencia in Education was created in 2004 as a non-profit organization with the goal of accelerating Latino/a student achievement in higher education. In 2019, the organization introduced its first cohort of nine colleges and universities to be certified with the Seal of Excelencia, demonstrating intentional practices in areas that have been shown to lead to student success. This year, its board of directors has launched its first fundraiser, a unique online art auction, with pieces from prominent Latino artists from across the country.