UCF today received the 2019 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, which recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. The university will be featured with 92 other national recipients in the November issue of the magazine.
The HEED Award is based on recruitment and retention of students and employees, continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion, says magazine publisher Lenore Pearlstein.
“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,” he says about UCF’s selection.
UCF’s official mission statement includes diversity and inclusion among its core values, with goals embedded in the campus strategic plan.
S. Kent Butler, interim chief equity, inclusion and diversity officer and a professor of counselor education, said UCF was in the running for this year’s award likely because of the work the Office of Diversity and Inclusion has been doing on campus, such as overseeing the Legacy Mentoring Program for students that focuses on scholarship, identity development, leadership, career development, and community service; the Leadership Empowerment Program for faculty and staff; and the Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity program.
University policies also promote non-discrimination in areas of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and this past spring UCF’s Inclusive Educational Services program graduated its first students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, providing them with a college experience and certificates to foster post-graduate employment and readiness.
Plus, “Our status as a newly recognized Hispanic Serving Institution has helped us earn this credential,” Butler says. UCF earned that U.S. Department of Education designation earlier this year, allowing the university to compete for federal funding opportunities to benefit educational experiences of Hispanic and low-income students. To qualify, Hispanic enrollment must be at least 25 percent of undergraduate students.
UCF has nearly 17,000 Hispanic undergraduate students, 28.3 percent of the university’s total enrollment. The university also has about 11 percent African American students, 6 percent Asian-American students, 4 percent multiracial students and 3 percent international students.
Within the past year, UCF’s Faculty Excellence also selected Butler to be a Faculty Fellow for Inclusive Excellence. He is developing and implementing an inclusive excellence plan under the guidance of Elizabeth A. Dooley, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs., and Jana Jasinski, vice provost for Faculty Excellence.
Looking ahead, Butler says UCF is in the process of revamping equity, inclusion and diversity issues.
“I have created an advisory council that will look diligently into issues of diversity and inclusion on campus,” he says, “as well as develop and implement a campuswide culture and climate survey to help understand how UCF is seen by its constituents.”