05/09/2014 04:41 pm ET Updated May 09, 2014

Universities Pledge Support To Improve Higher Education Success Among Latinos

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Now that Latino students are attending college at record pace, education activists are turning their attention to graduating ceremonies.

Take for instance Excelencia in Education, which boasts a mission to accelerate Latino student success in higher education. The Washington, D.C.-based national non-profit has joined forces to launch Presidents for Latino Student Success. So far 17 college and university presidents have pledged their support toward the national effort to improve higher education success for Latino students.

“This is an extension of something we started about three years ago called Excelencia in Action,” Excelencia in Education President Sarita E. Brown told VOXXI. “It really creates direct ties with leadership in colleges and universities to produce better results in terms of Latino college completion.”

“Excelencia in Education has become an invaluable resource for higher education leaders who understand that the success of America’s Latino students is critical to our nation’s future,” said Long Beach City College President Eloy Ortiz Oakley. “Excelencia’s analysis makes clear that for the U.S. to regain the top ranking in the world for college degree attainment, Latinos will need to earn 5.5 million more degrees by 2020. Every higher educational institution in America could benefit from Excelencia’s research, evidence-based practices, and proven ability to bring together key stakeholders to move our nation toward that goal.”

The idea is previous emphasis was on Latinos attending college, which Brown said is still a focus. Now Presidents for Latino Student Success aims to help those students walk across the stage in a cap and gown. Its focus will be on issues ranging from financial needs to degree attainment.

Specifically regarding the latter, Brown said the new initiative reminds colleges and universities to keep fast lanes towards graduation open for Latino students.

“It’s looking at the availability of courses and making sure they’re offered when you can take them,” Brown said. “It’s doing those kinds of things in a way that not only the student stays committed to their education but the institution recognizes its responsibility because they have the most ability to influence those students moving through the program quickly.”

There’s also a belief that the goals of Presidents for Latino Student Success will help institutions better serve all students.

As for measuring success, Brown said the metrics include enrollment and graduation of Latino students at institutions. The current figures will act as a baseline, with future results unknown.

“Their objective is to improve both the participation of Latino students at their institutions but more importantly the graduation from their institutions,” Brown said.

Ultimately, the goal of the Presidents for Latino Student Success initiative is to curb the equity gap and increase achievement.

Looking ahead, she stressed tenacity and commitment will be required for Presidents for Latino Student Success to have a lasting impact.

“Unfortunately, it’s not a quick fix,” Brown said. “This is not about mainly the challenge, this is about rising to meet the challenge and in that respect, I think we have to stay the course. We have to stay with it until it’s done.

Originally published on VOXXI as Universities pledged for the success of the Hispanics students



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