UMSL a recipient of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s 2020 HEED Award
The University of Missouri–St. Louis is among the most culturally and ethnically diverse institutions in Missouri – a fact its faculty, staff and students both celebrate and cultivate.
Outside organizations have taken notice of the university’s inclusive excellence efforts.
Today, INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine named UMSL one of 90 recipients of its prestigious 2020 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award – a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. The honorees will be featured along with the other recipients in the magazine’s November 2020 issue.
UMSL is the only university in Missouri to be included in this year’s list of awardees. It also marks the fourth time UMSL has received the honor after previously being recognized in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
“As we state clearly in our strategic plan, it is not enough to simply celebrate and appreciate diversity,” said Tanisha Stevens, vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion. “We are continuously working to build a truly inclusive community where equity is one of the most important hallmark values. That means recognizing and respecting individual differences but holding true to the belief that we are better together because of those differences. This honor is recognition that the work that occurs on this campus exemplifies that value.”
Stevens began serving as the interim director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in November, and Chancellor Kristin Sobolik elevated her position to the vice chancellor level in July. In announcing the shift, Sobolik said the addition of UMSL’s first ever vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion reflects the university’s ongoing commitment to building a diverse campus community where all can feel welcome and thrive.
Under Stevens’ leadership, UMSL held the university’s first Virtual Gathering for Racial Unity, which nearly 200 people attended on June 18. In July, the university solicited the help of Tabari Coleman, director of professional development at the Anti-Defamation League, to lead a series of discussions titled “Dialogue, Decisions and Dissonance,” giving participants a chance to talk about racial socialization and build awareness of knowledge gaps they might have. Additionally, this fall, UMSL is launching its Diversity Alliance, a network of faculty and staff who champion diversity and inclusion within their academic departments or units as well as introducing new professional training opportunities including a year-long anti-racism learning and dialogue series.
Stevens, who leads the chancellor’s cultural diversity committee continues to build on traditions such as the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Observance and championed the MLK scholarship to support students. Stevens also continues to cultivate external partnerships, including participation on the Civic Progress Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Task Force, an initiative with representatives from several local business organizations and educational institutions.
“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 — continued leadership support for diversity, and 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.”
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