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Widener University receives INSIGHT Into Diversity 2018 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award

HEED Award

Widener University is among a select group of colleges and universities honored nationally for diversity and inclusion efforts.

Widener University has been awarded a 2018 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.

The HEED award is a highly competitive national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. Widener will be featured in the magazine’s November issue. This is the third consecutive year the university has been honored by the magazine and it is one of just 96 institutions recognized out of several thousand across the country.

“Diversity and inclusion are part of our culture at Widener. These values are demonstrated in the university’s platform principle, ‘We’re All Widener,’ a powerful statement about respect, mutual understanding, and unity,” said Widener President Julie E. Wollman. “I am gratified to see Widener recognized nationally for its leadership in this important area.”

In selecting award recipients, INSIGHT Into Diversity looked at recruitment and retention of students and employees, leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion. The rigorous selection process took a detailed approach, said Lenore Pearlstein, magazine publisher.

“Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being accomplished every day across their campus,” Pearlstein said.

Widener’s commitment to diversity and inclusion shines through in a multitude of its programs and practices, particularly the We’re All Widener pluralism campaign. Wollman formalized that statement as a powerful representation of Widener’s values. The university launched the Common Ground Initiative under the umbrella of We’re All Widener last year. That initiative has created opportunities for students, faculty, staff and alumni to talk about differences in open and respectful ways. It premiered with “The First Amendment: Finding Common Ground in a Polarized World” – a panel discussion followed by student-led breakout sessions at the National Constitution Center. It continued with small-group sessions for students, faculty and staff – which Wollman facilitated on campus – table talk exercises, and faculty intergroup dialogues.

The university is also constantly striving to enhance the climate of diversity and inclusiveness on campus through the people it hires. Widener has strengthened its efforts to attract diverse pools of applicants for professional opportunities, tapping new organizations across multiple disciplines as it searches for prospective faculty and staff. It launched a Diversity Advocate Program this spring to ensure diversity and inclusion are represented and valued throughout the hiring process.

The administration is also invested in creative and innovative approaches to retain the talented professionals who come to teach and work at Widener. Multiple affinity groups, such as the Faculty and Administrators of Color Network, and an LGBTQ group for faculty and staff, promote inclusion and acceptance. In addition, the Multicultural Student Affairs Office develops and implements educational, cultural and social programs that benefit all students, whether they come from Delaware County, or regions around the globe. Interdisciplinary research opportunities provide students with different academic interests and personal backgrounds the chance to join together and work with faculty to integrate knowledge and solve vexing problems.

Widener is also a leader in supporting principles of diversity and inclusion in the Chester community. The university created a Community Engaged Teacher Education program that teaches education students how to be culturally responsive in urban schools within racially, culturally and linguistically diverse settings. Teacher candidates are paired with community mentors and public school teachers for an immersion experience that promotes a deep understanding of different cultural views.

In a less formal setting, Widener students visit Chester High School regularly during the school year, where they provide tutoring and mentoring to teens after school. They help with assignments and serve as role models to the next generation of college students, encouraging them to chase their dreams and providing advice on pursuing higher education.

The university also operates the Widener Partnership Charter School, Pennsylvania’s first university-based charter school, which launched in 2006 in partnership with community leaders and residents of Chester, Pennsylvania. This fall, 12 students from the school’s inaugural eighth grade graduating class returned to Widener as college freshmen, taking advantage of a generous $100,000 scholarship program for charter school alumni who meet the requirements for admission to Widener for full-time undergraduate study.

In addition, the university offers tuition rates in a number of extended learning programs at discounts up to 50 percent for 300 individuals who are employees of the city of Chester.

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener comprises seven schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. Visit the university website,