OCTOBER 10, 2022 — Washington, D.C.-based Excelencia in Education has announced that the UTSA College of Sciences’ M.S. in Environmental Science has been named the 2022 Example of Excelencia in the Graduate level category. Excelencia in Education honored four programs, one in each of four categories, as 2022 Examples of Excelencia from a pool of 93 submissions.
The M.S. in Environmental Science was recognized by a committee of diverse leaders in higher education as a program that implements practices cultivating a deep sense of what it means to belong in the academic world as a Latino, dismantle barriers to access and leave a resounding impact not only on individual students but on the future of their communities.
Excelencia is the nation’s premier authority in efforts to accelerate Latino student success in higher education. This year, the organization recognized four programs that stood out for their evidence-based efforts to advance Latino student success in higher education and in the workforce.
“We are honored to have our Environmental Science master’s program be recognized as a 2022 Example of Excelencia,” said David Silva, dean of the College of Sciences. “This prestigious recognition illuminates our college’s commitment to provide leadership in the education of Hispanic students and advancement toward a more diverse STEM workforce.”
UTSA’s Tuggle Scholars Program, a part of the environmental science master’s program, began in 2015 and intentionally developed practices to serve Latino students through an evaluation of success measures. These practices included creating professionalization opportunities designed explicitly for minoritized students, recruiting successful minority role-model professionals and developing workshops for faculty to specifically address the unique need for mentoring and validating Latino participants.
Over time, UTSA successfully improved the graduate program’s measurable outcomes. Of the 53 students currently enrolled in the environmental science graduate program, 60% are Latino—up from 32% three years ago. Additionally, Latino student retention increased from 91% to 98%, and participation among Latinos who completed the thesis track increased from 33% to 45% during these three years.
Today, the M.S. in Environmental Science continues to play an integral role in developing its students’ science identity by offering the training and support required to produce scientific research and communicate that research into effective community engagement and public leadership.
“This national recognition is the result of dedication by staff and faculty but most importantly by students eager to learn and develop the skills necessary to become successful leaders, researchers and scientists,” said Janis Bush, chair of the UTSA Department of Integrative Biology.
Three other programs were named 2022 Examples of Excelencia:
In August, the UTSA Master of Social Work was named a finalist in the Examples of Excelencia Graduate category.
“It is important to celebrate what is working for Latino students on campuses and at community-based organizations in front of a national audience of practitioners, funders and policymakers,” said Deborah Santiago, co-founder and CEO of Excelencia in Education. “Now, we invite these stakeholders to join us by investing in and learning from the evidence-based practices improving Latino college completion and ensure that more students receive the support to reach their educational goals.”
In 2020, UTSA earned the prestigious Seal of Excelencia, a comprehensive certification recognizing the university’s commitment and ability to accelerate Latino student success The Seal demonstrates the university’s forward momentum in becoming a Hispanic-thriving institution, a model Hispanic Serving Institution that provides the highest quality education to advance social mobility and economic opportunities for Latino students and their communities.
Excelencia in Education created its Examples of Excelencia program in 2005. It is the country’s only national effort to recognize and promote evidence-based practices accelerating Latino student success in higher education.
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The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.