GVSU one of nine institutions recognized for Latino student success

one man and two women standing with large framed certificate
President Thomas J. Haas accepts the Seal of Excelencia June 20 in Washington, D.C. At left is Deborah Santiago, CEO, and at right is Sarita Brown, Excelencia president.
Image Credit: courtesy photo
President Haas at podium in front of room
Haas addresses the audience at the Excelencia in Education event.
Image Credit: courtesy photo
group holding hands in ice-breaker exercise
Laker Familia participants are pictured. GVSU earned national recognition for its commitment and effort to serve Latino students successfully.
Image Credit: courtesy photo
row of students in caps and gowns with Latino stolls
Latino Student Graduation is pictured. GVSU earned the Seal of Excelencia for its commitment and effort to serve Latino students successfully.
Image Credit: courtesy photo

Grand Valley was among nine institutions in the country to receive the Seal of Excelencia from the Washington, D.C.-based organization, Excelencia in Education. 

The Seal recognizes an institution’s very high level of commitment and effort to serve Latino students successfully. President Thomas J. Haas attended the Excelencia event June 20 in Washington, D.C.

"To receive the Seal of Excelencia means that we are enhancing the upward mobility of the Latino community, and fulfilling our promise to the students and families who have chosen us to help guide their success," Haas said. "That is a tremendous challenge and obligation for us as leaders: to do right by that goal and pursue substantive strategies that enable us to meet our mission for all students."

The other eight institutions to receive the Seal of Excelencia are listed below.

• Arizona State University

• Austin Community College (Texas)

• California State University Channel Islands

• El Paso Community College (Texas)

• Florida International University

• South Texas College

• University of Arizona

• University of Texas El Paso

2019 is the inaugural year for the Seal of Excelencia. Sarita Brown, president of Excelencia in Education, said the Seal is part of Excelencia in Education’s strategy to close the education equity gap, accelerate the number of Latino students who attain college degrees by 2030and ensure America’s future by prompting more high quality educational opportunities. 

At Grand Valley, Latino student enrollment has increased 16.2 percent since 2015-2016, and Latino graduation rates have increased more than 16 percent in the same time period. In Michigan, Grand Valley ranks third among schools for the number of Latino students earning bachelor's degrees.

Jesse Bernal, vice president for Inclusion and Equity, said Grand Valley's success is largely due to the intentional efforts of establishing a Latino Student Initiative (LSI) on campus in 2012.

"It's very unique to Grand Valley," Bernal said. "This platform was motivated by campus-wide partners and has grown to include collaborative community partnerships in West Michigan and beyond. LSI truly positioned the university to institutionalize our commitment to elevate Latino student success, and provided GVSU with a framework to serve more communities."

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer also highlighted Grand Valley receiving the award.