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Emory honored with Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award
Students talking outside Student Center

Emory University has been named a 2022 recipient of the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award, a national honor recognizing colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

The awards are given by INSIGHT into Diversity Magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education, based on an in-depth application process. Emory is among 103 recipients this year and will be featured in the November 2022 issue of the magazine.

“The HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees — and best practices for both — leadership support for diversity, campus culture and climate, supplier diversity and many other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” says Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversitymagazine. 

“We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a HEED Award recipient,” Pearlstein notes. “Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campus.”

Emory was selected for the award based on achievements across a broad spectrum of diversity and inclusion efforts. 

“Diversity is woven throughout the fabric of Emory and we are honored to receive the HEED Award in recognition of our efforts,” says Carol Henderson, Emory’s chief diversity officer, vice provost for diversity and inclusion, and adviser to the president. “Emory is on a wonderful trajectory to strengthen and elevate our justice, equity, diversity and inclusion efforts in ways that are transformative and meaningful for not only our students, faculty and staff, but for the greater Atlanta and global communities writ large.”

Diversity initiatives across Emory

The extensive HEED Award application documented Emory’s efforts in dozens of areas, including increasing and supporting diversity among students, faculty, staff and community collaborations.

Noted Emory programs include a myriad of efforts aimed at supporting historically underrepresented and first-generation college students. A few examples include:

  • The pre-orientation STEM Pathways program, which can lead into programs like STEM Partners, which serves as a hub for chemistry and biology courses taught by faculty from underrepresented groups who continue working with these students individually and as a community through their first-year courses.  
  • Programs and living communities in Campus Life with retention as a focus, including 1915 Scholars (designed to support first generation college students) and the Mariposa Scholars (for undocumented students). There are also living communities in residence halls for Black men and women. 
  • The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program works to increase the number of underrepresented minority students (and others with a demonstrated commitment to eradicating racial disparities) who will pursue a PhD degree in Mellon-approved fields in the arts and sciences. 
  • Emory’s Pipeline Collaborative (EPiC) provides students from disadvantaged backgrounds with pathways to health sciences careers like medical imaging.
  • The Health Careers Opportunity Program Ambassador Program encompasses learners from K-12 education through graduate and professional school. As part of the HCOP National Academy at Emory, participants must intend to work in medically underserved areas/populations or areas with a health professional shortage.
  • The Initiative for Maximizing Student Development is a special two-year research and academic program for undergraduate scholars and new graduate fellows in STEM disciplines.

Noted too are programs serving faculty. A few highlights:

  • Faculty searches at the university are expected to follow best practices, which includes the appointment of an equity advisor/diversity advocate on each search committee
  • The Academic Leadership Program brings together faculty members from Emory and Atlanta-area colleges and universities, including Spelman and Morehouse Colleges, for specialized training and development for the next generation of academic leaders.
  • When Emory opened a search for new faculty with interest or research in Latin American-related topics, the cluster hire involved 11 departments in Emory College of Arts and Sciences and yielded three eminent scholars in Latinx studies (all of whom were granted tenure at Emory). 
  • Emory has launched the AI.Humanity hiring initiative across all schools and colleges with the hope of recruiting faculty addressing issues related to AI and health, AI and business/innovation, AI and race/social justice, and AI and the arts.
  • The Faculty Distinction Fund provides resources for recruiting and retaining “outstanding, diverse and interdisciplinary faculty whose scholarship enhances the academic excellence of Emory.”

The application also documents programs focused on university staff as well as faculty. Some of these include trans-inclusive health benefits, gender-neutral bathrooms, safe spaces for religious prayer, religious holiday exemptions for employees and students, mental health counselors trained to assist people from underrepresented groups, family leave policies, diversity and unconscious bias training, and employee resource groups.

The HEED Award application also included that, in the last two years, Emory University President Gregory L. Fenves launched a series of racial and social justice initiatives; the Emory School of Law was the recipient of a $5 million grant to create a new Center for Civil Rights and Social Justice; Carol Anderson, Emory’s Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies, was tapped to lead a consortium of scholars from nine diverse colleges and universities in a collaborative “public history reckoning designed to offer tangible suggestions for community-based racial reparations solutions”; the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion led an in-depth DEI strategic planning process; and Emory has reinvigorated its supplier diversity program and created the Emory Business Diversity Advisory Council. 

This year, Emory was also the recipient of Insight into Diversity’s Jesse L. Moore Supplier Diversity Award. The university also received the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council’s George Lottier Rising Star Award for 2021.

“It would be difficult to list all of the resources, programs and initiatives across the university that feature diversity and inclusion as key components, which speaks to the breadth and depth of Emory’s efforts — yet we also know that there is more work to be done,” Henderson says. “Recognitions like the HEED Awards give us the opportunity to learn from the other recipients and inspire us to continue striving to make Emory a place where all are welcomed and supported.” 

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