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Eastern Joins Initiative to Increase Latino Graduation Rates

Written by Ed Osborn

nunez official portrait.jpg

Willimantic, Conn. -Elsa Núñez, president of Eastern Connecticut State University, is one of 17 college and university presidents across the nation and the only one in New England, to join "Presidents for Latino Student Success" (PLSS), a group of higher education leaders throughout the country who are committed to making America stronger by increasing degree attainment for Latino students and all students.

"I am proud to be part of this new initiative to increase the number of Latino students graduating from college," said Núñez.  "From my own personal experience and my professional observations during more than 40 years in higher education, a college degree can uniquely transform someone's life. Latino students have historically attended and graduated from college at lower rates than white and African Americans.  While there are a number of reasons for this disparity, only by bringing dedicated educational leaders together and actively implementing effective strategies will we be able to change this paradigm."

The PLSS initiative is being spearheaded by Excelencia in Education, which is marking its 10 years of service.  "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 Eloy Ortiz Oakley, president of Long Beach City College and an inaugural member of Presidents for Latino Student Success.

"Excelencia's analysis makes clear that for the United States to regain the top ranking in the world for college degree attainment, Latinos will need to earn 5.5 million more degrees by 2020," continued Oakley. "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."

"We are gratified this distinguished group of higher education leaders have committed to building the national momentum to achieve our collective goal of making this country stronger with the talents, skills and contributions of greater numbers of Latino college graduates," said Sarita Brown, president of Excelencia in Education. "These leaders come from a diversity of institutions and locations yet share proven capacities to advance student success and the acumen to reach and serve Latino students."

In addition to Núñez and Oakley, the following college and university presidents have also joined Presidents for Latino Student Success: Ricardo Fernandez, CUNY-Lehman College; Mildred Garcia, California State University, Fullerton; Willie Hagan, California State University, Dominguez Hills; Ray Keck, Texas A&M International University; Flavius Killebrew, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi;
Felix Matos Rodriguez, CUNY- Hostos Community College; Gail Mellow, CUNY-LaGuardia Community College; Tomas Morales, California State University, San Bernardino; Diana Natalicio, University of Texas at El Paso; Antonio Perez, CUNY- Borough of Manhattan Community College; Anne Prisco, Felician College, The Franciscan College of New Jersey; William Powers Jr., the University of Texas at Austin; Shirley Reed, South Texas College;Mark Rosenberg, Florida International University; and William Serrata, El Paso Community College.

 Excelencia in Education is a Washington, D.C.-based national nonprofit organization whose mission is to accelerate Latino student success in higher education. For more information, visit

March 2015

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