Union again recognized nationally for its diversity efforts

Publication Date

For the second straight year, Union has been named a winner of a HEED Award by Insight Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.

Each year, the magazine recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

HEED (Higher Education Excellence in Diversity) Award recipients were selected based on their institution’s ”exemplary diversity and inclusion initiatives, and ability to embrace a broad definition of diversity on their campuses, including gender, race, ethnicity, religion, veterans, people with disabilities and members of the LGBT community.”

Union was one of 83 schools selected for the honor. The winners are featured in the magazine’s November issue.

A commitment to diversity across a broad range of topics is a key priority of the College’s Strategic Plan. This includes advancing efforts to recruit exceptional, diverse faculty and students; building a learning environment that fosters democratic values, social responsibility and ethical understanding; and nurturing a community that encourages socially responsible innovation.

“The award is affirmation of the progress we’ve made on this strategic priority of the College,” said President Stephen C. Ainlay.

Shortly after he became president in 2006, Ainlay created an Office of Campus Diversity and Inclusion and an Office of Multicultural Affairs. He praised the work of Gretchel Hathaway, the College’s chief diversity officer and Title IX coordinator, and others on campus for ensuring that diversity remains central to Union’s institutional identity and mission.

“As I stated in my Convocation remarks, our mission statement proclaims that we welcome diversity; our Strategic Plan emphasizes that it is remains an institutional priority. Why? Because we are stronger for it,” he said.

Among the most recent successes that contributed to the award was a campus climate study to assess religious diversity, assets that exist for interfaith cooperation, and faculty capacity to engage religious diversity and promote interfaith cooperation.

Also cited were programs such as Phenomenal Males (to help students understand the struggles and realities of underrepresented students) and Better Together Campaign (dozens of students wear a head scarf for the day to support the Islamic practice of wearing the hijab); and the installation of two wash stations adjacent to the prayer and meditation room to accommodate the Islamic practice of daily prayer prefaced by ritual cleansing.

In addition, Admissions has several programs in place to improve graduation rates among students from underrepresented groups. These include a dedicated financial aid counselor to work with students one-on-one; scholarship resources to cover book expenses, term abroad fees, 4th course charges and most other additional fees not generally covered with scholarship assistance; and a financial aid workshop for first-year students during a six-week required summer course.

“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.