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UC Merced Earns National Certification for Dedication to Latino Students

October 29, 2021
UC Merced student graduating
UC Merced has been recognized with the prestigious Seal of Excelencia.

UC Merced’s commitment to the success of Latino students has been recognized with the prestigious Seal of Excelencia.

The campus is among 10 institutions in the country to receive the reputable certification this year. The seal was presented today (Oct. 29) during a virtual ceremony by Excelencia in Education, a national organization devoted to the advancement of Latino student success in higher education.

Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz, a first-generation college student who became a lifelong advocate for providing education and social mobility for students from underrepresented backgrounds, attended today’s virtual ceremony from Washington, D.C.

“This recognition reflects the university’s efforts to assist in the recruitment and academic success of Latino students — indeed, of all our students. We thank Excelencia in Education for recognizing the diversity and inclusivity that exemplify UC Merced,” Muñoz said.

The rigorous selection process recognizes universities that demonstrate a robust enrollment, retention, financial support and representation of 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.”

As one of the universities recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education, more than 53 percent of UC Merced students are Hispanic and 71 percent of enrolled students identify as first-generation students (a student whose parents did not complete a four-year college degree) — the highest percentage in the UC system.

This certification is the latest recognition UC Merced has received for its commitment to diversity and inclusion efforts. Last month the campus received the 2021 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity Magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.

“Earning the Seal of Excelencia certification is a major achievement that demonstrates UC Merced’s strong commitment to Latinx student success beyond mere enrollment,” said Cecil E. Howard, interim associate chancellor and chief diversity officer at UC Merced. “Our transformative mindset continues to  position our students to overcome inequities in preparation for success here and beyond into the global society.”

Excelencia in Education created the Seal of Excelencia in Education in 2019. The status lasts three years.