Campus News Society & Culture

University of Georgia receives national diversity award

HEED Diversity Award Logo-h
The University of Georgia has been named a 2014 recipient of the INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award.

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia has been named a 2014 recipient of the INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award, a national recognition for its efforts to foster an inclusive, diverse campus.

UGA was one of 83 institutions honored this year with the HEED Award, 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.

“At the University of Georgia, we value inclusion as a fundamental element in a vibrant and connected academic community,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “I am pleased that UGA’s success in creating a welcoming campus that promotes educational growth and understanding is being recognized through this national award.”

As a recipient, the university will be featured in the November issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity, the oldest and largest diversity-focused magazine and website in higher education.

“We are proud that the University of Georgia is being recognized for its commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said Michelle Garfield Cook, associate provost and chief diversity officer. “Across our campuses, there are individuals at all levels working to ensure that UGA is a welcoming and inclusive place where everyone and anyone can be successful. This award shines the light on the richness of our diversity and the strength of our community.”

UGA’s efforts include initiatives to recruit diverse students, faculty and staff and to improve graduation rates of underrepresented groups. In addition, the university offers numerous diversity-related events, curricular offerings and training and certificate programs for faculty and staff.

“This national recognition highlights the successes that are possible when faculty, staff, administrators, students and alumni work together with a shared sense of purpose,” said Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “It also serves as a reminder that the different perspectives, beliefs and backgrounds that members of the campus community bring to UGA help make it a world-class institution of higher education.”

Efforts to improve graduation rates among UGA students from underrepresented groups include:
• The Georgia African American Male Experience, a program designed to increase the enrollment of black males at UGA, which has helped the group achieve a graduation rate of 77 percent, a higher rate than many peer universities across the nation;
• UGA Prep, a National Institutes of Health-funded program for students from underrepresented backgrounds intended to equip students to become the next generation of biomedical researchers;
• Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation that has helped increase enrollment of minority students in science, technology, engineering and math fields; and
• BreakThru, a collaborative initiative with the Georgia Institute of Technology that works with students with learning disabilities to promote universal learning and accessibility to STEM-based degrees.

In addition to diversity training for faculty and staff and a requirement that all students take a course that explores cultural diversity, the university offers the UGA Diversity and Inclusion Certificate program-which has reached about 650 faculty members and staffers in the past three years across three UGA campuses-as well as a lunchtime series called Dialogues in Diversity, created in 2012.

The university also offers more than a dozen multicultural/diversity events each year for students, faculty and the community, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Breakfast, International Street Festival, the Holmes-Hunter Lecture-which honors the first African-American students to enroll at UGA-and other special events.

“We hope the HEED award serves as a way to honor those institutions of higher education that recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion as part of their everyday campus culture,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.