UAlbany Receives 6th Consecutive Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award
By Erin Frick
ALBANY, N.Y. (Oct 13, 2023) — For the sixth consecutive year, the University at Albany has received the 2023 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.
The national honor recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. UAlbany is among 109 institutions to the receive the award this year.
“The University at Albany is deeply committed to creating a campus environment in which all students, faculty and staff feel welcomed, supported and have the tools they need to thrive,” said UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez. “This represents our mission and the University’s core values and strategic priorities. To receive INSIGHT into Diversity’s HEED award for the sixth year running is a tremendous honor — one made possible by the dedicated efforts of many groups and individuals working across our campus to implement these values within our academic departments, research and community-building environment.”
“For the University at Albany to be recognized with the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine for our commitment to inclusive excellence for a sixth consecutive year is a testament to our ongoing efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion,” added Samuel Caldwell, chief diversity officer and associate vice president of diversity and inclusion at UAlbany. “This is a remarkable and noteworthy achievement and reflects the values of the University at Albany community and our focus on realizing the potential of the UAlbany strategic plan, which prioritizes efforts to promote an inclusive and supportive campus environment.”
Promoting Inclusion Across Campus
Central to these efforts are UAlbany’s signature diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs, which are thriving and expanding.
Launched in the Fall of 2022, the BILPOC Faculty Advancement Initiative engaged in an active first year, growing its membership and honing its vision for its second year, with 2023-24 programming and development opportunities focused on academic writing. The group was established to facilitate opportunities for UAlbany faculty members who identify as Black, Indigenous, Latinx and People of Color to build community, share research, identify new avenues for academic collaboration and engage in professional development activities.
The annual Diversity Transformation Awards provide funding for projects that support activities and initiatives that promote inclusiveness, stimulate creativity and facilitate idea exchange while enriching campus life. Projects funded in 2023 included efforts aiming to support undocumented students and members of the LGBTQ+ community and to grow the presence of historically underrepresented groups in UAlbany curricula and STEM departments.
In April 2023, UAlbany launched the Institute for Social and Health Equity, a research and training hub designed to leverage existing research strengths and forge new community partnerships to address longstanding societal problems related to health disparities and inequity, with focal research groups dedicated to topics such as maternal-child health and environment health disparities.
UAlbany also continues to deepen its work in the social justice space. For example, the Social Justice Living-Learning Community, established in 2021, offers students of any major the opportunity to immerse themselves in social justice engagement by living and taking classes alongside other students interested in exploring and discussing societal issues from diverse perspectives. The University is also currently exploring plans to develop a Social Justice minor.
“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.”
Not only are UAlbany’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion expanding, they have also garnered additional national recognitions. In the past year, these include the prestigious Seal of Excelencia, awarded by educational nonprofit Excelencia in Education, which certified the University’s commitment to ensuring that Latina and Latino students are supported and thriving academically. UAlbany is among only 39 higher education institutions in the country to hold this designation.
In August 2023, UAlbany’s “EXCELlence in STEM” program received INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s “Inspiring Programs in STEM Award.” The program provides tutoring services and other supports for students enrolled in undergraduate biology, chemistry and physics courses, with an emphasis on promoting inclusive teaching and mentoring practices.