4 consecutive years: W&M receives the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award
by the staff
September 20, 2021
University publishes annual report on diversity and inclusion
INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine has again selected William & Mary to receive one of its Excellence in Diversity Higher Education (HEED) awards.
This is the fourth year in a row that W&M has received the award, which recognizes US colleges and universities that demonstrate exceptional commitment to diversity and inclusion. Some of the initiatives that helped W&M receive this year’s award are included in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s annual report, which was posted online today.
âWe are extremely honored to receive the HEED 2021 award for the fourth year in a row,â said Chon Glover, Director of Diversity. âIn the aftermath of a difficult year in which we all experienced a racial awakening and the exposure of many inequalities revealed by pandemics, our community came together as we had to pivot, adapt and accelerate the work of inclusion and development. ‘membership.
âThis year’s award is even more special because it symbolizes how we have come together to engage in work in an uncertain and changing climate while maintaining a spirit of perseverance and resilience. I hope our faculty, staff and students will see this as the catalyst to continue our efforts with an even greater emphasis on the university’s ongoing initiatives to foster and maintain a learning and working environment. inclusive that aligns with our mission and core values. Finally, the HEED award also provides benchmarks against which to assess our progress and allows us to continue striving for higher goals.
As a recipient of the HEED Award, W&M will be recognized in the November 2021 issue of INSIGHT into Diversity along with 100 other recipients from across the country. The magazine is the oldest and largest publication focused on diversity in higher education.
âThe HEED Award process consists of a thorough and rigorous nomination that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees – and best practices for both – ongoing support from leadership for diversity and others. aspects of campus diversity and inclusion, âsaid Lenore. Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, in a press release.
âWe take a detailed approach to reviewing each nomination to decide who will be named the recipient of the HEED award. Our standards are high and we seek institutions where diversity and inclusion are built into the work done every day on their campus. “
In this year’s award nomination, W&M highlighted a variety of its recent efforts in diversity, equality and inclusion, from research to recruitment.
Among the student-focused initiatives for 2021 is the launch of the partnership with the Posse Foundation, which offers full scholarships to various cohorts of students, many of whom may be the first in their families to attend university. The first cohort of Posse Fellows started at W&M this fall. Earlier in the year, Student Affairs administered the Viewfinder Campus Climate Survey, which, among other topics, asked students about campus freedom of speech and diversity of thought.
This year again, the university continued to re-examine its history and to make it known more widely. W&M has issued a Land Recognition Statement, which formally recognizes the original Indigenous inhabitants of the state-owned lands on which the Williamsburg campus resides. W&M has partnered with their current descendants to create appropriate language for the statement, which is now read at major university events, including the 2021 Convocation Opening Ceremony.
W&M also continued its work to learn more about and commemorate those enslaved by the university. In February, W&M and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation announced a partnership regarding the future use of the Bray School building, known in modern times as the Bray-Digges House, possibly the oldest existing building in the United States. United dedicated to the education of black children. The agreement includes moving the structure to the historic Colonial Williamsburg area, where it would become the 89th original structure restored by the foundation. The partnership also establishes the Williamsburg Bray School Initiative, a joint venture of the two institutions to use the Bray School as a focal point for research, scholarship and dialogue regarding the interconnected, often troubled, heritage of race, religion. and education in Williamsburg and America.
A few months later, W&M began construction on Hearth: Memorial to the Enslaved, which will honor those who have been enslaved by the university and serve as a gathering place for the campus community today and entrance to the historic campus. During the same May 2021 event, a dedication was held for the Legacy Tribute Garden, created in honor of the first three African-American undergraduates to live in residence at W&M. The following month, the university hosted its first Juneteenth celebration, in partnership with the City of Williamsburg, the YJCW Chapter on NAACP, First Baptist Church and Colonial Williamsburg. While the event took place virtually this year due to COVID-19, the celebration is expected to take place annually, with next year taking place at the memorial site.
Additionally, this year W&M launched its Asian Centenary, which both commemorates the admission of the university’s first Asian student and celebrates the contribution of all students of Asian, Pacific Islander and Middle Eastern descent. . The centenary will run until 2022 and will include special events and research projects.
At the administrative level, W&M has launched an organizational assessment to identify hidden and apparent obstacles to creating a fully inclusive university and campus culture. These findings should inform the university’s strategic planning process as it progresses.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s annual report includes a number of updates regarding the university’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts over the past year. During this time, the university has focused on recruiting and retaining faculty, staff and students; campus climate; curriculum improvements; and innovative approaches to community engagement and reconciliation efforts, according to the report. The office has also implemented a whole-university approach to its work, working with âforward-thinking individuals and units across campusâ.
âIn a tumultuous year in which we saw our community and our country facing multiple pandemics, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion has worked tirelessly with colleagues across the university to focus our core values ââand providing courageous faculty, staff and students with open spaces to navigate the uncertainties that have developed as our ‘normal’ ways of doing our work have been totally disrupted, âthe report summary states. “However, as a community, we came together and stayed true to our principles to find innovative ways to move our work forward as we were apart due to remote working.”
In addition to listing some of the initiatives that were also mentioned in the HEED application, the report highlights the creation of the university’s first strategic plan for inclusive excellence and diversity for 2020-2023. Created in coordination with the One Virginia Plan and the 1993 Commonwealth of Virginia House Bill, the plan was officially adopted in the spring of 2021 and includes an inclusive framework of excellence developed by the Association of American Colleges & Universities to monitor and evaluate the work on diversity, equity and inclusion while also looking for opportunities for improvement. As part of the plan, the university will create an annual report on its progress toward set goals and share it with the Virginia State Board of Higher Education.
âAcceptance of the model of inclusive excellence reflects the understanding that diversity, equity and inclusion (DCI) leads to organizational excellence and must be invited and integrated into the very heart of the business and not isolated initiatives, âthe report says. âThis framework shifts DCI’s efforts from the margins as a moral imperative to an intertwined space where what gets measured gets done. It also creates a shared narrative across the university, from academics to purchasing. “
Some of the other outcomes of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion listed in the report include the creation of a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee, which composed the Inclusive Excellence Plan; organizing a Courageous Conversations series in the fall for faculty and staff, focusing on topics related to the value of belonging of W&M; recognize 35 âDiversity Championsâ in the university community; host the IGNITE Future faculty development program; and offer 11 professional development workshops and other events, including two symposia on diversity and inclusion.
âWe are stronger together; a thriving university community thanks to its people and their varied experiences, âthe summary states. âThe broad dimensions of diversity may define us as individuals, but our shared values ââdefine us as a community of collective strength and power.
âAs we build institutional capacity to accelerate and improve diversity efforts, we must focus our mission, vision and values ââon the systemic and structural barriers that prevent our ability to be a stronger and inclusive W&M where all members of our community feel a sense of belonging and flourish. ”