Widener University has received the 2022 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.
Known as a HEED Award, the national recognition is bestowed on U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. Widener University will be featured in the November 2022 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. The university is among 103 honorees and was last recognized in 2018, at a time when values of diversity and inclusion were represented in the university's culture through the platform principle, “We’re All Widener.” The university continues to build upon that progress and is being recognized in light of additional gains that demonstrate and support a steadfast commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
“I am thrilled to share that Widener has received the 2022 HEED Award,” said President Stacey Robertson. “As a community we are deeply grateful and honored to be recognized for our efforts in support of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. These core principles are woven into the fabric of Widener’s culture, so to be honored as a leader in this way is exceptionally rewarding and inspiring.”
Honorees were selected through a comprehensive and rigorous application process that looked at multiple areas relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees, leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion.
“As a result of strong partnerships across our three campuses, Widener has made significant progress in building a strong foundation to support a culture that advances diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging,” said Chief Diversity Officer Micki Davis. “We will continue to focus on these principles and strengthen them as a central part of our community, reflected in our faculty, staff and our students.”
Widener has maintained a commitment to including diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in numerous programs and practices on its three campuses, including the recruitment and retention of faculty, staff and students. Highlights include:
- Implicit Bias and Search Committee Workshop. The offices of the Provost, Human Resources and the Chief Diversity Officer have implemented a professional development opportunity for all members of the university community serving on hiring search committees. Participation by search committee members have led to an increased awareness of implicit bias in hiring and has resulted in an increase of faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds joining the Pride family.
- Faculty and Administrators of Color Network. This is an active affinity network that includes faculty and staff from across our three campuses and hosts numerous events that support members of our multicultural community. Most recently, the network partnered with the Office of Alumni Engagement to launch a mentoring program, Legacy 56, that engages alumni and students. The Legacy 56 Mentoring Program was piloted with success last year and will be formally introduced at Homecoming in October.
- The DEIB Communications and Resources Hub. The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Communication and Resources Hub is an online repository for DEIB updates and reports from Widener University schools, colleges and departments, The hub is updated on a regular basis and can be accessed by Widener faculty, staff and students via the university intranet.
- The Wollman Award for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This award, endowed by immediate past university president Julie E. Wollman, was presented for the first time in May 2022 and is the first university-wide award given annually to an employee who advocates for, and affects change at Widener in support of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Diversity programming mini grants. These grants allow faculty and staff to apply for funding to assist with DEI-themed programming and events. Ten grants valued between $100 and $500 are available each academic year.
- DEI fund. This fund was established last year through a collaboration between University Advancement and the chief diversity officer as a giving opportunity for faculty, staff and alumni interested in supporting DEI initiatives, events and activities.
- The 1821 Experience Living Learning Community. The Multicultural Student Affairs Office partnered with the Offices of Residence Life and Student Success to offer a living-learning community this fall for first-year students from diverse backgrounds and/or who self-identify as the first generation in their families to attend college. First-year students who participate in the 1821 Experience Pre-Orientation Program are offered an opportunity to take a first year seminar class as a cohort and reside in the living learning community. Staff from the Multicultural Student Affairs Office maintain a part-time presence in an established satellite office space.
“Our selection as a recipient of this award speaks to Widener’s universal commitment to principles of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, and to the relentless work that both students and faculty are doing to empower each other in every space on our campuses,” Robertson said. “As our community grows, we will continue to work together to build on this progress.”