WMU wins 2013 diversity award from national publication

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Higher Education Excellence in Diversity logo.

HEED award recipients were announced Oct. 17.

KALAMAZOO—Western Michigan University has received a 2013 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity—HEED—award from INSIGHT Into Diversity, the nation's oldest and largest publication that focuses on diversity in higher education.

Recipients were announced Oct. 17 for the award that recognizes U.S. colleges and universities "that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion." WMU will be featured along with 55 other recipients in the magazine's November 2013 issue. In Michigan, only three public universities were honored. The other two are Michigan Technological University and Saginaw Valley State University.

Embracing a 'broad definition of diversity'

"We're delighted that the University has received this award," says Dr. Martha Warfield, WMU vice president for diversity and inclusion. "The HEED award recognizes the accomplishments we have made thus far to establish an institutional culture that supports diversity and multiculturalism by fostering an environment where diversity in all of its forms is investigated, explained, practiced, celebrated, affirmed and vigorously pursued."

According to INSIGHT Into Diversity, WMU was selected for the national honor based on its exemplary diversity and inclusion initiatives and its ability to "embrace a broad definition of diversity on campus" that includes gender, race and ethnicity as well as people with disabilities, veterans and members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community.

"We hope the HEED award serves as a way to honor those institutions of higher education that recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion as part of their everyday campus culture," says Lenore Pearlstein, the magazine's publisher.

Warfield notes that WMU has had a Diversity and Multicultural Action Plan in place since 2006 and has just conducted a campus climate survey. The data gathered from that survey will inform Universitywide planning to expand ongoing efforts to build and maintain a framework that enables equitable treatment of all members of the University community and beyond.

This is the second major award WMU has received this fall for its focus on diversity. In late September, Warfield traveled to Washington, D.C., to accept a Minority Access Award from Minority Access Inc., at that organization's annual conference.

The nonprofit organization assists colleges and universities, the federal government and agencies of other governments and corporations of all kinds in implementing programs and providing services to recruit, enhance and retain underserved and underrepresented populations.