The annual INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award recognizes colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. In our November 2020 issue, we recognize the year’s winners by highlighting some of the most important factors assessed by the HEED Award.
The Lehigh University Student Scholars Institute (LUSSI)
The LUSSI program at Lehigh University provides support to students who are first-generation, low-income, or from underrepresented groups throughout their time at the university. During pre-orientation, students are given information on university resources, study skill development, effective time management, and strategies for long-term health and wellness. Throughout the program, scholars meet biweekly in small groups with faculty, staff, and student mentors and are offered opportunities for career development, leadership training, and more. LUSSI places emphasis on building a strong and diverse social network both among the Scholars and the university community.
Latin Dreams is a living-learning residential community at the University of North Texas launched in fall 2020 that targets first-generation Latinx men, a group that has historically been most at risk for attrition. The program is based on best practices and is designed to assist participants in strengthening their academic engagement skills and exploring their cultural identity. Latin Dreams utilizes an intersectional model and culturally relevant resources to help promote participants’ persistence, retention, and timely graduation.
HCC Honors Program
Only 28 percent of public community colleges offer honors education and programming. Hillsborough Community College’s (HCC) Honors Program boasts a holistic admissions process, a leadership travel abroad class in which travel is covered through course fees, and an HBCU experience through membership in the National Association of African American Honors Programs. Committed tenured and tenure-track faculty teach without compensation because they “love the honors teaching experience.” According to HCC Honors Program Director Kathleen King, “The support of our faculty and administration enriches our diversity and inclusion and gives our students a competitive edge for transfer.”
Grit Pathway Program
The Grit Pathway Program at the University of West Florida (UWF) is for freshmen applicants who demonstrate the potential for success in college but feel they would benefit from transitional support to maximize their achievements at UWF. Participants are connected to a variety of support resources to aid in their transition to the university, in addition to taking a reduced course load, participating in academic success workshops, and meeting regularly with a success coach. After completion of the program’s requirements, students are allowed to register as full-time for the following semester.
Future Faculty Development Program
The Future Faculty Diversity Program (FFDP) at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) works toward the recruitment of underrepresented scholars in graduate and post-doctoral programs, including African Americans, Latinx, Native American/Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders. The program consists of a three-day intensive workshop for students from underrepresented backgrounds who are interested in careers in academia. The inaugural workshop was held in 2010 with support from the Virginia Tech Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost; since that time, more than 230 scholars from across the U.S. have participated in the annual event.
Diversifying Law School Enrollment
University of Houston Law Center is an eight-week summer course designed to increase diversity among law school applicants by providing students and working professionals from low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented backgrounds an introduction to legal education. Dean Leonard M. Baynes and Director Kristen M. Guiseppi established the multi-track program. Participating students spend their time engaging in classes taught by law school faculty; interning at a variety of law firms, courts, and legal organizations; and preparing for the LSAT and law school application process.
The Challenge Program
Challenge is a summer five-week residential program for incoming first-year underrepresented students at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). In the program, students are immersed in the Georgia Tech environment: they live in on-campus housing; take classes provided by Georgia Tech professors; and participate in cultural, professional, and academic workshops and activities. Challenge is designed to help prepare incoming first-year students for a successful college career by equipping them to address the 7Cs: Computer science, Chemistry, Calculus, Communication, Career development, Cultural competency, and Community service. Challenge participants develop a strong Georgia Tech peer, resource, and corporate network before entering into their first academic semester.
Distinctive Faculty Recruitment and Retention Programs
Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) Institute for Inclusion, Inquiry and Innovation (iCubed) focuses on faculty recruitment and retention through its four distinct and innovative programs. The Cluster Hiring Initiative actively recruits a highly inclusive cadre of scholars in the redress of challenges that affect urban areas; the Pathways to the Professoriate Program establishes formal relationships with HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions to expand and enhance the pipeline into critical areas of need at VCU; the Visiting Faculty Scholars Program provides a forum for faculty to engage in creative activity and scholarship; and the Commonwealth Scholars Program focuses on recruiting undergraduate and graduate students mentored by iCubed scholars to participate in community-based research.
Clemson University’s Tiger Alliance program helps to create pathways to college for Black, Latinx, and Hispanic young men in high school. Tiger Alliance works directly with nine high schools across four counties in Upstate South Carolina in an effort to build a college-going culture for 9th–12th graders. The ultimate goal is to help students graduate from college and encourage the next generation to continue their education. Through its student ambassadors, workshops, college tours, summer academy, and participation in the Clemson University National Men of Color Summit, Tiger Alliance is shaping future local, state, and national leaders.
Future Faculty Career Exploration Program
Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT) Office of Faculty Diversity and Recruitment increased its in-person engagement with prospective faculty this year by visiting universities that produce the highest number of women and underrepresented PhD students. These efforts brought in more than 30 percent of the participants in the Future Faculty Career Exploration Program, now in its 17th year. During this year’s program, 16 scholars presented research and networked with RIT administration, faculty, and students in a virtual format. To date, more than 350 scholars have taken part in the program, with 23 hired to RIT faculty positions.
University of North Florida (UNF) Lead is a newly implemented nine-month professional development program dedicated to preparing faculty and staff — especially women and those from underrepresented groups — for leadership positions and advancement opportunities at UNF. The 21 participants are guided through a curriculum designed to assist them with transitioning into leadership positions while remaining engaged in their current professional lives. Participants identify, plan, and implement a capstone project that responds to an identified need of their department, the campus, or community while building contact networks across the university.
Rise Up: Pathways to Diversity in Medicine
Rise Up: Pathways to Diversity in Medicine is a conference sponsored by the East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine that provides tools and encouragement for youth from diverse backgrounds to explore their potential in medicine. This year, it brought more than 160 attendees from eastern North Carolina to campus and offered interactive experiences for students ranging from K-12 to college.
Freshman Innovation Group
The Freshman Innovation Group in the Texas A&M University College of Liberal Arts is a program for incoming, first-generation freshmen that aims to build a strong foundation for academic and social success. The program links two seminar-sized courses, allowing sets of 25 students to move together as a cohort through their first year. Group members receive funding to offset the expense of course materials, enjoy meals with faculty, and take part in academic programming designed to engage their lived experiences and interests.
Building Unity and Cultivating Success
Whitworth University offers two programs to support students in their progress toward graduation. The yearlong Building Unity and Cultivating Success Bridge program serves freshmen from first-generation and underrepresented ethnic populations. It begins with a pre-orientation and continues through the first year with monthly meetings and programming facilitated by peer guides and staff. Act Six is a cohort-based program that brings underrepresented students from urban ministries to the university on full scholarship and equips them to become transformative leaders on campus and in their home communities.