UO receives Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award

First published in Around the O on November 2, 2020.

The University of Oregon has been named a recipient of the 2020 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from the national journal Insight Into Diversity.

Lenore Pearlstein, co-publisher of the journal, noted that each year more institutions were applying for the award, prompting the journal to raise the standards for recognition. The University of Oregon was one of 90 colleges and universities across the U.S. to receive the award.

Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Yvette Alex-Assensoh viewed the award as an honor and an opportunity.  

“We appreciate the national recognition for the award-winning work to which many on our campus contributed as part of IDEAL,” she said. “In light of these unprecedented times, the HEED award is catalyst for deeper and more transformation work that lies ahead.”

The journal noted the UO’s centralized diversity plan based on the IDEAL framework — inclusion, diversity, evaluation, achievement and leadership — led by the Division of Equity and Inclusion and implemented through individual diversity action plans in 35 schools, colleges and administrative units across campus.

Student and faculty programs highlighted diversity work across campus and communities.

Student highlights included the university’s Oregon Young Scholars Program, a high school bridge program that prepares historically underserved students to be prepared to attend college and to be active members of their communities.

Also included were diversity scholarships such as the Diversity Excellence Scholarship program in the Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence, which recognizes the academic achievement and potential of students who, through sharing their varied cultural perspectives, enhance the education of all students. Another is PathwayOregon, which ensures that academically qualified, federal Pell Grant–eligible Oregonians have their tuition and fees paid through a combination of federal, state and university funds and provides comprehensive academic support and career guidance.

The journal credited the UO Multicultural Center as important to student growth. The center promotes student leadership development, cultural pluralism and positive social change and serves more than 25 UO student unions and groups

Successful pilot programs for faculty members and staff retention also were highlighted, including the Center on Diversity and Community’s Search Advocate Pilot Program. The program has trained more than 200 faculty members and staff to serve as consultants and participants in search committees. The advocates advance inclusive excellence by asking search committee members to identify and promote practices that advance diversity and social justice, and minimize the impacts of cognitive and structural biases.

The November issue of Insights, devoted to honoring all the award recipients, also took note of the university strategies groups. UO strategies groups are alliances that include faculty members, staff, students and community members from traditionally underrepresented groups and allies who advocate for academic and professional inclusion.