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UGA receives national diversity award for eighth consecutive year


The HEED Award is the only national honor for higher education excellence in diversity and inclusion

A long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence backed by an ambitious new five-year plan has earned the University of Georgia national recognition for the eighth consecutive year.

The INSIGHT Into Diversity Excellence in Diversity in Higher Education Award recognizes colleges and universities that demonstrate exceptional commitment to diversity and inclusion. UGA has won this national honor every year since 2014.

“I deeply appreciate this national recognition, once again, of the University of Georgia’s far-reaching initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “While there is still work to be done, it is exciting to see the gains we are making in this critical area through a significant investment of resources and the dedicated efforts of the UGA community. “

“A daring path to follow”

The university’s diversity and inclusive excellence plan, which was adopted in May, was developed by a 21-member committee comprising faculty, staff, students, alumni and community representatives. After conducting over 40 focus groups, the committee identified 11 goals with key performance indicators that will be used to measure the university’s progress over the next five years. Throughout the current school year, schools, colleges and other units on campus will develop plans that support the goals of diversity and inclusive excellence.

“The three overarching priorities of the plan are building an inclusive living / learning environment; recruit and retain a diverse workforce; and expanding partnerships and outreach to strengthen diverse communities, ”said Michelle Cook, vice-president of diversity and inclusion and strategic university initiatives and committee co-chair. “The university community has charted a bold path with achievable and measurable goals. “

Cook noted that several action steps that support the 11 goals have already been implemented. The expansion of the Road Dawgs program increases student recruitment to rural and racial schools across Georgia, for example, while the creation of the Dawn D. Bennett-Alexander Inclusive Community Award increases recognition for faculty efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. An additional $ 1 million donation from the UGA Foundation will match future donations from the Georgia Commitment scholarship program based on need. Since the inception of the program in 2017, more than 600 needs-based scholarships have been created.

A long-standing commitment

The new and expanded programs being implemented under the Diversity and Inclusive Excellence plan build on several successful programs that have been put in place in recent years, as well as some that have been in place for more than a year. decade. The ALL Georgia program, which was established in 2018, provides students in rural areas of the state with a network of shared resources and experiences. The program also provides financial assistance to six outstanding students from rural Georgia. The Georgia African American Male Experience began in 2014 as a two-day program for accepted students and has since expanded to offer academic skills enrichment, student support services, mentorship and development. leadership.

Several units of the Student Affairs Division, such as the LGBT Resource Center, the Disability Resource Center, the International Student Life Office, the Multicultural Services and Programs Office, and the Veteran Student Resource Center , offer students support and mentoring tailored to their specific needs. In addition, the TRIO programs funded by the Department of Education and administered by the Division of Academic Enhancement are aimed at students from low-income families, first-generation college students, and students with disabilities.

UGA has several programs in place to promote diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), including the Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation and the DeLTA project, both funded by the National Science Foundation. Several school and college-level programs are also in place, including the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Youth Fellowship Internship Program and an exploratory academy at the College of Veterinary Medicine for students from under-represented and underserved rural communities. The latter was one of 79 programs nationwide honored by INSIGHT Into Diversity with a 2021 Inspiring Programs in STEM award. It is also one of many programs funded by the New Approaches to Promote Diversity and Inclusion grant program created by Morehead in 2019.

The Athens-Clarke County Community Service Programs include a partnership with the non-profit organization Chess & Community which uses robotics to improve STEM education and a program known as Georgia Possible which helps students to develop their leadership skills and professional interests.

To promote faculty diversity, the Faculty Affairs Office has developed research committee members training that focuses on implicit bias and attracts a diverse pool of applicants.

Through the university’s membership in the Aspire Alliance iChange network, which is affiliated with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, a team of faculty and university leaders are developing an institutional action plan to promote diversity among STEM teachers. The Teaching and Learning Center also offers workshops on using inclusive teaching practices.

Participation in the university’s voluntary diversity and inclusion certificate program, which was launched almost a decade ago, has grown significantly in recent years. Based on a recommendation from the Presidential Task Force on Race, Ethnicity, and Community, a new position of privately supported Diversity Education Coordinator has expanded the institution’s capacity to provide diversity education, consultation and support.

“The University of Georgia community has made significant strides in promoting a more diverse and inclusive environment,” said S. Jack Hu, senior vice president of academic affairs and dean of the university. “I express my deepest gratitude to all faculty, staff, students and alumni for their efforts and commitment. “