CSULB earns prestigious Seal of Excelencia for its commitment to Latinx students

Published September 29, 2023

Cal State Long Beach has earned the prestigious 2023 Seal of Excelencia, joining a distinctive group of colleges and universities who have been recognized for its commitment to Latinx student success, it was announced today. Click here to view the livestream of the national announcement.

Only 30 schools nationwide have been awarded the honor from Excelencia in Education, the leading authority in efforts related to Latinx success.

The Seal of Excelencia reinforces CSULB’s national profile as one of the top universities for Latinx students as well as a Fulbright Hispanic Serving Institution Leader by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

“We want our students to thrive in a community where they are comprehensively supported and uplifted. The Seal of Excelencia is a symbol of that commitment,” President Jane Close Conoley said. “Earning the Seal will only deepen our future in building a richly diverse, equitable and inclusive campus.”

Anna Ortiz, dean of the College of Education, spearheaded the rigorous application process. She said the Seal certification reflects the transformative work that already has been done at The Beach and what still needs to be done to help Latinx students succeed in the future. 

“(The application process) simultaneously honors what we’ve done, and then points to what we need to do to increase our efficacy in serving Latinx students,” Ortiz said.

The seal certification is valid for three years, and institutions committed to a journey of transformation to intentionally serve their Latinx students, can apply for re-certification.  

To earn this distinction, universities must demonstrate through their data, evidence-based practices and how they are intentionally serving Latino students. 

According to Ortiz, among the policies and programs in place are:

  • Long Beach College Promise, in which 57% of the students who enrolled at CSULB are Latinx
  • Beach Pathways Program, which has 72% Latinx students
  • Summer Bridge, where 63% of the participants are Latinx
  • Book Grant program (a partnership with ASI). The retention rate for Latinx students who receive these book grants is 3% higher than those who do not

CSULB also is a federally designated Minority-Serving Institution and Hispanic-Serving Institution. The total student enrollment in fall 2022 was 32,711 of which 50.4% of all full-time undergraduates and 49.68% of all part-time undergraduates are Hispanic. 

Latinx students at graduation

“There is a real difference between colleges and universities that enroll Latino students and those that intentionally serve them,” said Deborah Santiago, Co-founder and CEO of Excelencia in Education.  

“Those that earn the Seal are trendsetters on a journey of transformation, showing what it takes to progressively increase positive outcomes for Latino, and all, students for others ready to meet the mission.” 

Ortiz expects the percentage of Latinx students to rise when this year’s numbers are calculated, which means there is more work to be done to find ways to serve them. 

“We should be at, or very close to, or above 50%, and a huge growth (which) means that we are serving our community and that is important,” Ortiz said. 

“Over time, I have seen the institution care more about Latinx students, faculty and staff and it culminates in the desire of the President to join the Presidents for Latino Success network. She's a part of that network that gives us access to technical training that many faculty and staff have participated in over the year and a half.” 

Ortiz said Conoley has shown a commitment “to our community” and develop programs that will increase The Beach’s capacity to meet the needs of Latinx students. 

 “(Her actions) means like, wow, we are serious about this. And it has it has been a real uplift for our community on campus.” 

The work that The Beach has done is reflected in the persistence rate for full-time Latinx students, which has increased by 2% and part-time students by 8% and the overall completion rate has increased by 14.6% while the rate of all students is 5.1%.

The Beach will celebrate its distinction at 12 p.m. Oct. 5 at the USU Southwest Terrace.