Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia has received national recognition for its efforts to foster an inclusive, diverse campus for the second year in a row as a 2015 recipient of the INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award.
The HEED Award is the only designation of its kind awarded to institutions that exhibit outstanding efforts and success in the area of diversity and inclusion throughout their campuses.
“The university is pleased to receive, once again, this important recognition for the diversity of our campus community,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “The University of Georgia strives to cultivate an environment where individuals from all backgrounds feel valued and supported. We are pleased to be recognized for our efforts to create a positive and inclusive academic community.”
As a HEED Award recipient, the university will be featured in the November issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity, the oldest and largest diversity magazine and website in higher education.
“As an institution we are proud to be recognized as a HEED Award recipient,” said Michelle Garfield Cook, associate provost and chief diversity officer. “Units throughout the university are engaged in celebrating diversity and making our campus a more inclusive and welcoming place. It is truly a community effort that supports a core value of the University of Georgia.”
UGA’s successes include initiatives to recruit diverse students, faculty and staff and to improve graduation rates of underrepresented groups. All students are required to complete a course that explores cultural diversity, and the university offers several diversity related events, curricular offerings and training and certificate programs for faculty and staff.
Programs such as the Georgia African American Male Experience, the National Institutes of Health-funded PREP@UGA and Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation have increased minority enrollment at UGA over the past decade from 22 percent in 2004 to 30 percent in 2014.
UGA’s six-year graduation rate for African-American students is 81.5 percent-more than double the national average, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The graduation rate for Hispanic students is 79.5 percent, which also far exceeds the national average.
UGA has recently taken steps to expand its efforts to promote inclusion, including opening a Student Veterans Resource Center in 2013 and broadening the Office of Institutional Diversity’s portfolio to include women in 2014. Earlier this year, the university launched a Women’s Leadership Initiative to enhance the representation of women in leadership roles on campus.
“Fostering diversity among our faculty, staff and students gives the University of Georgia a competitive edge in today’s globalized world,” Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten said. “We all benefit when a broad range of perspectives and ideas are considered, and I am delighted that UGA’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion continue to receive national recognition.”
UGA also offers the Diversity and Inclusion Certificate program-which has reached about 1,000 faculty and staff members in the past three years across three UGA campuses-as well as a lunchtime series called Dialogues in Diversity that was created in 2012.
The university offers more than a dozen multicultural/diversity events each year for students, faculty and the community, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Breakfast, the International Street Festival, the Holmes-Hunter Lecture-which honors the first African-American students to enroll at UGA-and other special events.
“The HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees-and best practices for both-continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We take a holistic approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a HEED Award recipient. Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being accomplished every day across a campus.”