Phoenix College Earns Prestigious Seal of Excelencia certification

Friday, September 29, 2023
Phoenix College students celebrating graduation
PC logo and Seal of Excelencia
PC male graduate showing off diploma
Phoenix College Mariachi Osos del Valle

Mariachi Osos del Valle is Phoenix College’s – and the Maricopa County Community College District’s – first and only mariachi ensemble, performing traditional and contemporary mariachi music as well as other traditional music from Mexico and Latin America.

PC Faculty, Staff, and Students celebrate the Seal of Excelencia Announcement on September 29, 2023

PC Faculty, Staff, and Students celebrate the Seal of Excelencia Announcement on September 29, 2023

One of Only Nine Institutions in 2023 to Join Trendsetting Group Verified as Intentionally Serving Latino Students

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 29, 2023) – Excelencia in Education, the nation’s premier authority on efforts accelerating Latino student success in higher education, announced today Phoenix College has been certified with the prestigious Seal of Excelencia in 2023 for demonstrating through data, evidence-based practices, and leadership, how it is intentionally serving Latino students. 

Excelencia has offered the Seal of Excelencia — a national certification valid for three years — since 2018 to recognize institutions that are trendsetters for the transformation needed to accelerate Latino student success and meet the overall mission of higher education. The Seal of Excelencia framework is a comprehensive institutional self-assessment tool for aligning and progressing efforts to intentionally serve Latino, and all, students across data, practice, and leadership. It represents learning from over 20 years of working with colleges and universities.

“Phoenix College continues to reinforce Maricopa’s commitment to enhancing Latino student success,” said Dr. Steven R. Gonzales, Chancellor of the Maricopa County Community College District. “The college’s data-driven practices, ability to attract and retain learners, transformational leadership, paired with its campus culture have fostered an environment where Latino students can achieve their personal and professional goals. I commend Phoenix College for this prestigious recognition and look forward to the work ahead as we continue to provide access and remove barriers for affordable postsecondary education.” - Dr. Steven Gonzales, Maricopa Community Colleges Chancellor 

In an announcement live streamed nationally from Excelencia’s National Policy Forum in Washington, D.C., Excelencia recognized Phoenix College and eight other institutions that earned the Seal of Excelencia for the first time, and five institutions that were recertified. These institutions join just 30 other Seal-certified institutions from around the country. Combined, the 39 Seal-certified institutions enroll over 15% of all Latino students and graduate 17% of all Latinos. Together with Excelencia, they lead and transform higher education to advance Latino talent vital to the country’s workforce and economy.

“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.”

Phoenix College currently employs multiple enrollment strategies and partnerships with community organizations helping Latino students and their families receive the information and support needed to successfully enroll. The College also started an intentional practice of examining program trends to guide the design and implementation of programs – using an equity lens - to help identify programs in which Latino students are underrepresented. Utilizing this equity lens, Phoenix College raised the percentage of Latino students enrolled in several programs, including paramedicine, phlebotomy, and information technology. 

“The Seal of Excelencia Certification affirms the incredible work and burning passion PC faculty and staff exhibit serving students exceptionally well. The Seal will be a beacon to the community that we are committed to all students.” - Dr. Kimberly Britt, Phoenix College President

The Seal recognizes Phoenix College’s high level of commitment and effort to serve Latino students including specific transfer strategies, featured programs (e.g. Bilingual Nursing Fellowship Program, STEM CUREs Program, the MESA Program, and many more) as well as implementing a First Year Experience (FYE) course which had a significant impact on retention and pass rates for LatinX students.

“While achieving the Seal of Excelencia is a remarkable accomplishment, its true impact extends far beyond the recognition itself. It signifies not only academic excellence but also a commitment to fostering an inclusive and empowering educational environment that celebrates diversity.” - Anil Kapoor, Interim Department Chair of Biosciences

Aside from academic endeavors, a significant aspect of the college journey revolves around social interactions. To bolster students’ sense of belongingness and representation, PC’s Student Life Department conducted an analysis to identify the needs of Latino students in programming across campus.  The result is a growing number of Latino cultural events throughout the year, such as Dia De los Muertos, Las Posadas, Cesar Chavez Day, Hispanic Heritage Month, LatinX Fishbowl, and Hispanic Convocation.

"When I learned that Phoenix College had earned the Seal of Excelencia, it further confirmed that I made the right choice in where to start my college journey. PC is such a welcoming and inclusive environment and I'm so grateful I get to be a part of it."  - Damaris Cano Martinez (Student Body President)

Besides Phoenix College, the other newly certified Seal of Excelencia institutions are: Angelo State University (TX), California State University, Long Beach (CA), California State University, Los Angeles (CA), California State University, Northridge (CA), Metropolitan State University of Denver (CO), Richard J. Daley College (IL), St. Edward’s University (TX), and Texas Woman’s University (TX).

The five recertified Seal of Excelencia institutions are: California State University, Sacramento (CA), Long Beach City College (CA), The University of Texas at Austin (TX), The University of Texas at San Antonio (TX), and University of Illinois Chicago (IL).

An institution earns the Seal by demonstrating alignment across the three core areas of data, practice, and leadership, which show:

  • Evidence of effectiveness and intentionality in institutional practices serving Latino students
  • Positive momentum for Latino student progress in their data
  • Dedication to transforming the institution into an environment where Latino students thrive
  • Strategies in leadership that clearly articulate institutional focus on advancing Latino student success

Excelencia Co-founder and President Sarita Brown said, “College and university leaders who focus on student success generate momentum for the transformation of higher education. Excelencia is proud to make common cause with these leaders. Through our network, we support and catalyze institutions striving to engage and graduate more Latino students.”

Brown added, “With today’s announcement, students, families, policymakers, and higher education may look to the institutions from this network that have earned the Seal of Excelencia certification for intentionally serving Latino students as they make their choices. Excelencia is proud to work with these trendsetters to advance Latino talent for the workforce and civic leadership and ensure America’s bright future.” 

The Seal is not a ranking, nor an award. It is a rigorous verification process that culminates with certification. Excelencia began Seal certification as one of the organization’s transformational strategies to lead colleges and universities to go beyond simply enrolling Latino students. The Seal provides the means to use data and practice to instill intentionality in serving Latino students.


About Excelencia in Education

Excelencia in Education accelerates Latino student success in higher education by promoting Latino student achievement, conducting analysis to inform educational policies, advancing institutional practices, and collaborating with those committed and ready to meet the mission. Launched in 2004 in the nation’s capital, Excelencia has established a network of results-oriented educators and policymakers to address the U.S. economy’s needs for a highly educated workforce and engaged civic leaders. For more information, visit: 

About Phoenix College 

Phoenix College (PC) welcomed its first students, as one of the first higher education institutions in Maricopa County on September 13, 1920. PC's founders envisioned the College as a place of inclusion, as a non-segregated institution. Today, the College continues to be a place of diversity, equity and access. Our focus on transformation includes seeking out partnerships that work with opportunity youth, refugee and immigrant populations, Hispanic, Asian, Native American populations and adult learners. PC is dedicated to providing access to valuable and affordable education and community services.  With more than 150 degree and certificate programs, Phoenix College serves approximately 17,000 students each year.

Phoenix College Media Contact: Christina Flora, Manager of Public Relations and Marketing. 602.920-8458.

The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) is an EEO/AA institution and an equal opportunity employer of protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or national origin. A lack of English language skills will not be a barrier to admission and participation in the career and technical education programs of the District. The Maricopa County Community College District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age in its programs or activities. For Title IX/504 concerns, call the following number to reach the appointed coordinator: (480) 731-8499. For additional information, as well as a listing of all coordinators within the Maricopa College system,