Elected officials and higher education leaders

From left to right, Dr. David Ortiz, Texas House of Representative and UIW graduate, Justin Rodriguez, and UIW president Dr. Louis Agnese, Jr.

San Antonio – Elected officials and higher education leaders from across America came together at the St. Regis Washington, D.C. hotel today to honor the University of the Incarnate Word’s Graduate Support Center as the nation’s top program for increasing achievement for Latino students in graduate school.

The Graduate Support Center was selected from among 217 programs from 26 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia nominated in four categories: associates degree, bachelor’s degree, graduate degree, and community-based organization.  Conceived and run by Excelencia in Education, this is the only national initiative to systematically identify, recognize, and catalogue evidence-based programs that improve Latino college success. 

“This honor is confirmation of our efforts to improve the graduation rate of Hispanic students in higher education, especially those pursuing master’s degrees,” said Dr. Lou Agnese, President of the University of the Incarnate Word.  “In the United States, very few Hispanics have master’s degrees.  It’s imperative, then, that every effort is made to improve the graduation rate of Hispanic students who are pursuing master’s-level studies.”  

Today’s announcement event, Celebraciòn de Excelencia, coincided with the release of the 2014 edition of “What Works for Latino Student Success in Higher Education,” a compendium of all 29 recognized programs along with the evidence of their success.  Through this annual process, Excelencia in Education continues to grow America’s largest inventory of programs and strategies that education leaders, policymakers, and others tap into to accelerate degree completion among Latinos.

This is the ninth annual release of Examples of Excelencia.  Excelencia in Education has systematically reviewed more than 700 programs to identify and recognize 125 programs and departments – including, for the first time this year, community-based organizations – that demonstrate with evidence that they effectively boost Latino enrollment, performance and graduation.

“The University of the Incarnate Word is at the forefront of meeting the challenge of improving higher educational achievement for Latino students,” said Sarita Brown, president of Excelencia in Education. 

For example, UIW is ranked No. 1 nationally among private universities in awarding bachelor’s degrees to Hispanics.

“No longer should policymakers and institutional leaders ask how to improve college success for Latinos – we have the largest accumulation of proven examples and tested strategies that show them how,” Brown said.  “Today’s question is do leaders have the will to put these practices into action.”

To download “What Works for Latino Student Success in Higher Education,” which includes detailed information about all of the programs recognized today, visit www.EdExcelencia.org.

“By sharing what works we hope to support educators, community leaders, funders, and policymakers to take an asset-based approach to serving Latino students,” said Deborah Santiago, COO and vice president of Excelencia in Education and author of the publication.  “Ultimately, we strive to inspire and support replicating and bringing to scale evidence-based practices that serve Latino students and thus serve the country.”

Examples of Excelencia is the only national initiative to systematically identify and promote evidence-based programs and departments effectively boosting Latino enrollment, performance and graduation.  It is presented in collaboration with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).  The 2014 sponsors are ACT, Univision, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, DeVry University, and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

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CONTACT: Margaret Garcia, associate director public relations, (210) 422-4052, mlgarci2@uiwtx.edu

Excelencia in Education
Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2014, Excelencia in Education is a Washington, D.C. based national non-profit organization whose mission is to accelerate Latino student success in higher education.