UNCW Recognized for Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

Monday, September 18, 2017

The University of North Carolina Wilmington is among 80 universities selected to receive the 2017 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

The HEED Award recognizes colleges and universities for their commitment to make diversity and inclusion a priority across their campuses. This is the first year UNCW has earned this distinction.

UNCW is one of four institutions in North Carolina to receive the award. East Carolina University, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill are also recipients.

“This recognition is not saying that we don't have things to work on, but it does say that the university is heading in the right direction,” said Kent Guion, UNCW’s chief diversity officer. “It is an acknowledgement of the efforts across the institution to promote innovative and effective diversity and inclusion programs and practices.”

UNCW has made significant strides in closing the graduation gap among diverse populations. In 2015, the Education Trust recognized UNCW as one of the top eight performers out of more than 240 universities successfully closing the graduation gap between white and underrepresented minority groups in the time span between 2003 and 2013.

“At many universities, persistent graduation gaps are a major concern,” said Guion, “and we stand out for making dramatic improvements in this area.”

Support and accountability are two key themes that are also assessed. UNCW’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion provides leadership, partnership and support for diversity initiatives on campus. OIDI coordinates a large number of learning opportunities and various resources, including the Upperman African American Cultural Center, Centro Hispano and the LGBTQIA Resource Office. For the past two years, OIDI has sponsored innovative programming like the DNA Discussion Project, which encourages greater understanding of the science of genetics, the construction of race and the perception of ethnicity.

Several other offices and programs also support diverse students, faculty and staff and contribute to educational and awareness programs on campus, including the Women’s Studies and Resource Center; Human Resources; the Disabilities Resource Center; the Office of Military Affairs; and Cape Fear Region Minority Enterprise Development Week.

Attracting and retaining high-quality, diverse students, faculty and staff and promoting a diverse and inclusive culture and global mindset are among the priorities outlined in the university’s Strategic Plan.

The INSIGHT Into Diversity HEED Award is open to all colleges and universities across the U.S. It measures an institution’s level of achievement and intensity of commitment in regard to broadening diversity and inclusion on campus through initiatives, programs and outreach; student recruitment, retention and completion; and hiring practices for faculty and staff.

-- Venita Jenkins