University earns Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for sixth straight year


The 鶹ҹ has earned the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine for the sixth year in a row.

The recognition rests on campus-wide efforts designed to foster access, opportunity and success for underrepresented groups, efforts guided by 鶹ҹ’s .

The plan sets forth objectives in areas such as engagement across campus and in the community; recruiting and hiring a faculty from diverse backgrounds; and increasing enrollment and retention among underrepresented students.

“HEED recognition signals that we’re making significant, meaningful strides across many fronts, including areas that aren’t sometimes associated with diversity, equity, inclusion and access,” said Kiwana McClung, who leads the University’s as chief diversity officer.

“It also reaffirms our commitment – as we push ahead – to discovering ways to broaden our areas of focus and refine our function,” she added.
Going forward, Campus Climate Surveys among faculty members and students will assist those efforts. “The surveys will prove extremely valuable, because they offer insight as to how a wide-cross section of people across campus think and feel,” McClung explained.

Along with informing new initiatives and resources, information gleaned from Campus Climate Surveys will bolster a longstanding objective: generating new topics and ideas for programs coordinated by the Office for Campus Diversity.

“Continually implementing fresh, topical subjects is a primary reason our programs and initiatives flourish, and it’s essential to keep doing that for them to keep growing and evolving,” McClung explained.

Case in point: the monthly Courageous Conversations series. Faculty and staff members gather to develop strategies and resources that foster inclusive teaching. Neurodivergency was the topic of the most recent workshop. The term describes people whose brains function differently than what might be perceived as the norm, including disorders and learning disabilities.

McClung also referenced the yearly First to Geaux initiative. It provides programs and resources that assist first-generation students – those whose parents either didn’t pursue or earn a college degree and “who come from all places and walks of life.”

“Diversity, inclusion, access, opportunity – those are words and ideals that can’t be narrowly defined; they encompass vast numbers of people from vastly different backgrounds, people whose circumstances and needs can vary greatly,” McClung said.

“So, central to our role and our ability to continue progressing will be remaining conscious of that as we implement new ideas, programs and resources that help us build upon our successes,” she added.
The 2023 HEED Award recipients will be featured in the November / December issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

Photo caption: For the sixth year in a row, 鶹ҹ has earned the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award, or HEED Award. The recognition rests on University programs, initiatives and resources that advance access, opportunity and success for underrepresented groups Photo credit: Doug Dugas / 鶹ҹ