UAlbany Receives 5th Consecutive HEED Award for Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

Graphic with purple background and white block text on the left, with University at Albany logo on the right. Text on the left reads: 2022 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award Recipient.
Prestigious recognition is a testament to the University’s efforts to broaden diversity and promote inclusivity among students, faculty and staff. (Image by Brendon Phillips)

By Erin Frick

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 19, 2022) — University at Albany has been recognized with an INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award for the 5th consecutive year. The honor acknowledges UAlbany’s ongoing dedication to creating an inclusive campus environment where students and faculty from all backgrounds are supported and empowered to succeed.

“UAlbany is deeply committed to promoting diversity and inclusion, and receiving the HEED Award for five years running represents an important measure of that commitment,” said University at Albany President Havidán Rodríguez. “This prestigious honor is a sign of steady progress toward our vision to be the nation’s leading diverse public research university.”

INSIGHT into Diversity is the oldest and largest publication dedicated to advancing conversations around diversity in higher education. The HEED Award serves as a way for institutions working to improve campus inclusivity to assess their efforts and progress against exacting standards. Judging criteria include such factors as student recruitment and retention, hiring practices for faculty and staff, and programming designed to facilitate a more inclusive campus climate.

“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,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a HEED Award recipient. 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.”

UAlbany’s recent initiatives to improve campus climate include the development of a bias incident response protocol — a streamlined system for all members of the UAlbany community to report bias incidents, which are quickly assessed and forwarded to the appropriate agency or campus units to be addressed.

Expanded inclusivity training now features in new student orientation programming, with ‘Intersections’ — a two-day, four-part workshop series for freshmen developed by Ekow King, assistant to the vice president for student affairs for diversity, equity and inclusion and director of intercultural student engagement. The interactive training is comprehensive and explores a range of themes such as: differentiating between identity, diversity and inclusion; discussing experiences with oppression and steps to interrupt it; learning how to act in solidarity against racism and oppression; and understanding systemic racism in the United States.

Efforts also reach into the broader community. Coming up next month, the UAlbany Office of Equity and Compliance will host the second Race for Equity 5k — a public event designed to celebrate civil rights milestones and raise awareness of current social justice issues.

“The ongoing work of diversity, equity and inclusion is embedded in the University at Albany Strategic Plan, and one which the institution is strongly committed to,” said Samuel Caldwell, UAlbany’s chief diversity officer and associate vice president for diversity and inclusion. “We are very proud to receive the HEED award again in recognition of our continuing and ongoing efforts to contribute toward an environment where all intersectional identities are welcomed and supported. It remains our vision to be the nation’s leading diverse public research university, and this award serves as recognition of the University at Albany’s efforts in the areas of campus climate, student access and support and diversifying faculty and staff.”

The HEED Award is open to all institutions of higher education in the U.S. and Canada. A total of 104 institutions received the honor this year. The 2022 winners will be announced in the November 2022 issue of INSIGHT magazine.