Campus News Society & Culture

UGA receives national diversity award for fourth consecutive year

UGA receives HEED Award for fourth year.
UGA receives HEED Award for fourth year.

The University of Georgia’s commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive campus environment has been recognized for the fourth consecutive year with the INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award.

The HEED Award is the only national recognition honoring colleges and universities that exhibit outstanding efforts and success in the area of diversity and inclusion. UGA is one of 81 institutions nationwide to receive a 2017 HEED Award.

“The University of Georgia is honored to receive this significant recognition for the fourth consecutive year,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Although work certainly remains ahead, the institution is making strides toward becoming an even more connected and welcoming academic community for all of its faculty, staff and students.”

The recruitment of a diverse student body is bolstered by range of programs that introduce prospective students to the many learning opportunities that the university offers. High-achieving middle school students from across the state visit campus through Gear Up for College, which is funded by the Goizueta Foundation and administered through the university’s Fanning Institute for Leadership Development. Through a partnership known as Experience UGA, students from all grade levels in the Clarke County School District visit campus to participate in hands-on, curricular based activities.

During spring break, UGA students visit high schools across Georgia to share their experiences and discuss college preparedness through a program known as Road Dawgs. In addition, programs such as Padres e Hijos Fin de Semana (Parents and Students Weekend) at the Fanning Institute, Movimiento Latino, the Georgia African American Male Experience, and Georgia Daze bring prospective students to campus, where they interact with faculty members and members of the student body.

Programs such as these, combined with the growing demand for a UGA education, have helped increase the number of African-American students at UGA by 33 percent over the past five years. The number of Hispanic students at UGA increased by 21 percent over the same time period.

Source of pride

“The University of Georgia is proud of its many programs and initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion,” said Michelle Garfield Cook, associate provost for institutional diversity. “We have been successful because every sector of the institution is committed to providing access and promoting the success of our students, faculty and staff.”

Funding from the National Science Foundation has played a key role promoting diversity in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, where student interest has risen dramatically in recent years. The NSF-funded Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program has helped triple minority undergraduate enrollment in STEM fields at UGA over the past decade, and a new NSF-funded program known as Bridges to the Doctorate will build on that success by boosting the enrollment of underrepresented minorities in Ph.D. programs.

The university’s commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion extends from its leadership to its faculty and staff. Earlier this year Vice President for Student Affairs Victor Wilson received the INSIGHT Into Diversity Giving Back Award, and Morehead received the award in 2016. Across campus, more than 5,500 faculty and staff members have participated in the voluntary Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion program since it was launched in 2012.

In 2015, the university launched a campus-wide Women’s Leadership Initiative that has resulted in an expansion of career development programming, mentoring and work-life balance support for faculty and staff. In addition, the Office of Faculty Affairs has developed trainings for department heads and search committees on attracting a diverse hiring pool.

“Earning the HEED award for four consecutive years is a source of great pride for the university community,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten. “It’s also an opportunity for us to reaffirm that the diversity of our faculty, staff and students is one of the University of Georgia’s greatest strengths.”