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FSU receives award for commitment to diversity

By Nadira Wicaksana

FSU was named one of 96 higher education institutions in the United States to receive the Higher Education and Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award, according to a Sept. 17 University press release.

The HEED award is granted by the magazine “Insight into Diversity,” which according to its website, is the oldest and largest diversity magazine in higher education today. The publication “strives to advance the national conversation about diversity and inclusion.”

This is the fourth time the University has received the award since 2014, according to the magazine’s website. FSU has received this award more times than any other public university in Massachusetts.

To be considered for the award, representatives from universities must complete applications that ask questions about student, faculty, and staff demographics. These include categories such as race, gender, disability or veteran status, as well as more encompassing questions about “strategies your institution [has] in place to ensure diversity planning and accountability,” according to the application sheet.

Millie González, interim chief officer of diversity and inclusion, submitted FSU’s 2018 application for the HEED Award. In the application, she cited on-campus programs and affinity groups that contribute to the University’s diversity efforts, such as Brother2Brother, M.I.S.S., and BSU.

FSU’s application also mentioned the employee affinity groups and initiatives, such as the Faculty and Staff of Color, Faculty and StaR with Disabilities, and the Widening the Circle Faculty Institute, which is a program that offers workshops about diversity issues in the classroom.

An FSU ad in the Nov. 2015 edition of “Insight into Diversity” states, “At FSU, we encourage a supportive, diverse and collaborative environment in which we learn from each other through informed and open communication, institutional practices and community engagement.”

González said in the press release, “It’s so important to keep an open and ongoing dialogue about these issues. ... We can learn so much from one another simply by engaging in these challenging conversations.”

González added she believes that while the HEED award is a significant recognition for the University, she would rather the University’s commitment to diversity within the FSU community take the spotlight.

“To me, it’s wonderful to be recognized with the HEED award, but more importantly, it sort of signals to the community that our efforts are ongoing and our commitment still remains the same,” González said. “Even without the recognition, we would still be doing it.”

President F. Javier Cevallos said, “I am extremely proud that the University has received this recognition, particularly after the incidents of racism that occurred last year. I’ve always maintained that we would emerge a stronger community and I absolutely believe we have.

“There is still more work to be done as we continue to strive for excellence in institutional diversity and inclusion but I’m proud of where we are today.”

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