Union has again been named a winner of a HEED Award by Insight Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.
This marks the fifth straight year the school has been honored by the magazine, which 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, veterans, people with disabilities and members of the LGBT community.”
Union is among 80 schools selected for the honor. The winners will be featured in the magazine’s November issue.
“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,” said Lenore Pearlstein, the magazine’s publisher.
Diversity remains central to Union’s institutional identity and mission and is a key priority of the College’s Strategic Plan.
Shortly after becoming president in 2006, Stephen C. Ainlay created the Office of Campus Diversity and Inclusion and an Office of Multicultural Affairs.
He also established the Presidential Forum on Diversity, which brings in notable speakers on a wide range of topics that promote diversity and inclusiveness. Speakers have included poet Maya Angelou, journalist and television news anchor John Quiñones, Broadway star Anthony Rapp and actress Marlee Matlin.
Among the innovative and impactful diversity- and inclusion-related programs, initiatives, policies or practices at Union:
• Diversity and Inclusion Orientation focuses on the expectations of first-year students, including signing of the Diversity Commitment.
• Diversity and Inclusion Certification Course is offered to all employees and is designed to expand employee’s knowledge of issues related to diversity, and broaden the campus learning environment beyond the classroom.
• Student Leaders Orientation is for students representing more than a dozen clubs and organizations. They attend a one-day retreat at the Kelly Adirondack Center to cultivate the skills needed to effectively lead a club and to raise awareness of each club’s mission.
• Advisory Council on Global Affairs was established to assist members of the campus community who may be personally affected by national and global decisions.
• Dinner and Discussion around Diversity is a weekly student-led discussion of some of the big questions of life and world views as identified by the participants. It is sponsored by the Campus Protestant Ministry.
• Interfaith Youth Core: Better Together is a student organization committed to furthering understanding across faith traditions and other world views.
• Social Justice Retreat, an annual event, gives students a forum in which to further develop knowledge and skills to support them in becoming better change agents around areas of racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, ageism, religious oppression, classism, global citizenship and many various identities and power differences.
In addition, the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life focused on Islamic awareness and politics during the 2016-17 academic year. Winter programming emphasized an understanding of Islam as it is practiced by students. A week of service programming from the Muslim Student Association focused on the support of orphans of war in the Middle East. Also, the third annual Avi Schaefer Shabbat explored religious difference and persecution with students from Hillel and MSA leading the conversations.
“We are honored to again be recognized for our efforts in the critical areas of diversity and inclusion,” said Gretchel Hathaway, the dean of Diversity and Inclusion and chief diversity officer. “This is a major priority for our college and our community.”