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WVU earns sixth Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award

Laughing students in a stadium

Students laugh as they enjoy the 2021 Monday Night Lights event at Milan Puskar Stadium. The Class of 2025 Welcome Week event was held Sunday, Aug. 22, after it was postponed because of weather the previous week. (WVU Photo/Jennifer Shephard)

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Establishing a Faculty Justice Network, creating a comprehensive Inclusive Campus website and increasing fundraising aimed at soliciting resources for traditionally underrepresented students are among the new projects at West Virginia University that earned the 2021 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for the sixth consecutive year.

The award recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“This national recognition of West Virginia University’s efforts to create a diverse and inclusive campus belongs to our students, faculty and staff,” President Gordon Gee said. “I am so proud of the work they, and we as a collective community, are doing every day to make this a place where Mountaineers from every walk of life can learn, grow and find their purpose.”

The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion coordinated WVU’s HEED application, partnering across the institution to pull information and data to tell the story of WVU’s commitment and progress.

“We have seen a marked system-wide increase in the amount and type of engagement with diversity and inclusion related issues,” WVU Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Meshea L. Poore, Esq said. “The HEED Award process allowed us to showcase the renewed energy and focus that have begun a transformation on our campuses. It helped us examine the efficiency and effectiveness of the efforts taking place, while also serving as a motivator to maintain diversity as a priority. Receiving the HEED Award is an encouraging sign that we are making progress.”

Established by the Office of the Provostthe Faculty Justice Network facilitates intentional community building and peer mentoring, while the University’s website was improved to provide quick access to information about diversity, equity and inclusion resources and initiatives.

“At WVU, we value each one of our community members and are committed to ensuring they are engaged and celebrated,” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed said. “Educating ourselves and others about the challenges diverse populations face is a key step in that effort. From curriculum development to faculty and student programming, WVU’s academic community is making great strides toward expanding our understanding of diversity and inclusion issues and creating a welcoming environment on our campuses.”

Additional initiatives over the past year include:

  • Launched a system-wide DEI Council.
  • Created and filled a position within the Carruth Center focused on mental health issues of BIPOC students.
  • A review of diversity and equity work in how faculty is promoted and achieves tenure.
  • Continued an Inclusive Hiring Initiative for faculty.
  • Started an on-going series of messaging videos that explore topics centered on helping members of the WVU community live, learn and work together with care and respect for each other.
  • Established a DEI Committee within the Alumni Association.
  • Increased diversity on the University’s Board of Governors.

“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.”

WVU will be featured with other recipients in the November 2021 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.



CONTACT: Sarah Lowther Hensley
Marketing and Communications Director
Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

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