Written by Albany Tribune Photo taken by Dale Peterson
Western Oregon University received the first annual Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. WOU is the only college or university in the Pacific Northwest to receive this honor, and one of only three on the west coast, joining two University of California campuses.
The award recognizes WOU’s strong commitment, engagement, and success in creating a university teaching and learning environment that embraces and celebrates the many benefits of a 21st century diverse university.
As a winner of the HEED award–a national award honoring U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion–WOU will be featured along with a select group of other national recipients in INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s December 2012 issue.
“This recognition is a point of pride for the entire university since the award is an important acknowledgement of the overall level of commitment and excellence by WOU faculty, staff, administrators, and students. This honor is especially meaningful because the broad range of groups and efforts that were taken into consideration by Insight into Diversity in the selection process,” said WOU President Mark Weiss. “WOU’s success in supporting first-generation, minority, low-income and students with disabilities is well known nationally. This award also took into consideration other university strengths such as our support veterans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students, and our institutional planning and policies that support a diverse and supportive environment.”
INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine selected WOU based on the institution’s exemplary diversity and inclusion initiatives, and include all aspects of diversity including gender, race, ethnicity, veterans, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBT community. Since 2007, WOU has become more diverse every year and has received awards for excellence from groups such as the Education Trust, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, National Academic Advising Association, and others for its commitment and success in educating students.
WOU is the only public college or university in Oregon to be a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. The retention and graduation rates of WOU students of color continue to be higher than the overall university retention and graduation rates. WOU remains committed to preparing students for a global society. In addition to study abroad and international internships,
“We hope the HEED award serves as a reminder that diversity and inclusion must remain priorities in the 21st century higher education landscape. Every college and university should recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion as being part of their everyday life on campus,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “Our students of today are the employees of tomorrow and the future of our country. As students begin to enter the workforce and a global society, they must first be surrounded by and supported by faculty and staff that understand the differences among cultures and their needs.”