Excellence in Diversity: Emory receives national honor

By Kimber Williams | Emory Report | Oct. 17, 2013

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Emory earned the 2013 HEED award for promoting a welcoming, diverse and inclusive campus committed to engaged scholarship and courageous inquiry. Emory Photo/Video.

Emory has received the 2013 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award, which honors U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to building a diverse and inclusive campus community.  

The only national recognition of its kind for institutions of higher learning, the HEED award is presented annually through INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, which has covered issues of diversity in higher education for the past 40 years.  

The award recognizes an institution's "superior level of achievement and commitment in regard to broadening diversity and inclusion on campus through initiatives and programs; student recruitment, retention, and completion strategies; and faculty and staff hiring and retention practices," according to publisher Lenore Pearlstein.  

Emory was selected for the honor through a comprehensive assessment that involved an examination of campus diversity and inclusion initiatives, including areas of gender, race, ethnicity, veterans, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBT community.  

"This is a positive step for Emory," says Dona Yarbrough, associate vice provost for community and diversity. "It reflects the fact that Emory has been fully engaged through its strategic efforts to create traction in the area of community and diversity."  

"It's also nice to get affirmation that others see our work as significant and important," she adds.  

Yarbrough points out that at Emory, issues of diversity and inclusion have become an important focus for a number of campus offices and divisions, including:  

  • The Office of Community and Diversity

  • The Division of Campus Life

  • The James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference

  • The Center for Community Partnerships

  • The Center for Women at Emory

  • The Office of Equal Opportunity Programs

  • The Office of Access, Disability Services and Resources

  • The Committee on Class and Labor.

One area that earned particular praise among those assessing Emory's diversity efforts: the creation of a campus-wide Advisory Council on Community and Diversity (ACCD).  

Created in 2011 to replace three presidential commissions, the advisory council is composed of a chief community and diversity officer, a steering committee, and divisional committees designed to address issues of community and diversity throughout the institution.  

"The ACCD is one of the things we were able to highlight that distinguishes us from almost every other university in the country," Yarbrough says.  

"It suggests to others that we're not just a well-intentioned institution, but an institution that can operationalize our intentions," she adds.  

In receiving the HEED award, Emory will be featured, along with other award recipients, in the magazine's November issue.