UCF has been named one of 20 higher-education finalists to receive Excelencia in Education’s inaugural “Seal of Excelencia” certification for improving outcomes for Latino students.

The award from the nonprofit organization will recognize colleges and universities that demonstrate significant strides in serving students through data, practice and leadership.

Cyndia M. Muñiz, assistant director of Hispanic initiatives in UCF’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, said she believes UCF was chosen “because of our thoughtful ability to apply a Latino lens to many of our campus-wide initiatives that contribute to student success and an inclusive campus culture.

“We aspire to be a model Hispanic Serving Institution in the United States and this recognition by Excelencia in Education reaffirms UCF’s steadfast commitment to serving our diverse student body in intentional and meaningful ways.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education designated UCF as a Hispanic Serving Institution, which allows the university to compete for federal funding opportunities to improve the educational experience of Hispanic and low-income students.

To qualify, Hispanic enrollment must be at least 25 percent of full-time-equivalent undergraduate students. UCF reached that benchmark in 2016 and now has a 27.5 percent Hispanic undergraduate enrollment, which is more than 16,000 students. UCF is sixth in the nation for awarding bachelor’s degrees to Hispanic students.

Excelencia in Education says the new seal “identifies trendsetting institutions  and helps other institutions that aspire to better serve their students.”

Two other State University System schools were nominated for the recognition: University of South Florida and Florida International University. The award recipients will be announced June 20.