University wins award for diversity

By Kayli Plotner

SIU has been recognized for its efforts to develop a diverse campus community.

The university has been named one of 48 schools in the nation to receive the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award from INSIGHT into Diversity magazine. The December 2012 issue will feature the list of institutions awarded. The award honors U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“It is always wonderful to get national recognition about SIU’s celebration of diversity and our commitment to inclusion,” Chancellor Rita Cheng said. “The rich diversity of our campus contributes in a significant manner to the education of our students and adds to student learning and success.”


According to the group’s website, INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine has been in circulation for 40 years and is the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.

The HEED award recipients were selected based on the institutions’ diversity and inclusion initiatives. The universities are expected to include all aspects of diversity including gender, race, ethnicity, veterans, people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community.

“I think SIU does a good job with the resources it has to incorporate diversity, but we can always do better,” said Wendy Weinhold, Coordinator of LGBT*Q Resource Center. “With the LGBT*Q community that I work with often being marginalized, the university does a good job offering outreach and events that recognize and provide educational outreach for LGBT*Q folks.”

Weinhold said she thinks diversity is a necessary part of the higher education mission and an important tool for learning.

A call for HEED award applications was announced in March, according to the website. Recipients of the award range from large to small, including public and private schools, community colleges and graduate schools.

Institutions were assessed based on the school’s success in catering to diversity and inclusion of students, faculty and staff.

“Recently, SIU added several new programs to further enhance our student experience, including creation of the Center for Inclusive Excellence and the launch of the Black Male Initiative,” said Cheng. “It is nice that the tremendous commitment of our faculty, staff and students to diversity is getting noticed.”


The Center for Inclusive Excellence launched this fall and incorporates the Black Resource Center, Hispanic Resource Center and LGBT*Q Resource Center and facilitates development of a culture of diversity throughout campus through a variety of efforts and activities, according to its website.

Sapphire Cureg, director of SIU’s Center for Inclusive Excellence said she is truly excited for SIU to receive such an honor.

“This award on inclusion and diversity demonstrates that SIUC is comprehensively shaping and building a learning, research and teaching environment that benefits everyone in our changing diverse environments,” she said. “Importantly, this award will constantly remind us that inclusive excellence must remain strong in SIUC’s landscape.”

Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity Magazine, stated she hopes the award serves as a reminder that diversity and inclusion must remain priorities in higher education, according to the magazine’s website.

“Every college and university should recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion as being part of their everyday life on campus,” she stated on the website. “Our students of today are the employees of tomorrow and the future of our country. As students begin to enter the workforce and a global society, they must first be surrounded by and supported by faculty and staff that understand the differences among cultures and their needs.”

Weinhold said she hopes the university sees the award as a beginning rather than an end.

“As a university and an institution, we should take away from this that we are on the right path to becoming entirely inclusive,” Weinhold said. “We have started the journey to being truly inclusive and given some buoyancy to continue on that path of great adversity.”

Other HEED award members include Georgia State University, Michigan State University, Texas Tech University, the United States Air Force Academy and the University of Virginia.