University of Dayton receives national diversity and inclusion award

Dayton, Ohio – The University of Dayton is one of 90 colleges and universities nationwide to receive the 2020 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. The HEED Award recognizes U.S. institutions of higher education that demonstrate a notable commitment to diversity and inclusion across campus.

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine honored UD for its work during the past four years, including the establishment of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion; the launch of a strategy to achieve greater racial/ethnic diversity and gender equity across UD’s workforce; an enrollment strategy to achieve greater diversity within the student body; professional development opportunities for faculty and staff on diversity and inclusion topics; and increased curricular offerings for students on diversity and social justice.

“UD’s commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion is an essential component of being a Catholic, Marianist university for the common good,” said University of Dayton President Eric Spina. “While our efforts are not driven by the desire to secure awards, receiving this national recognition is a timely affirmation of the tireless work by stakeholders within and beyond the UD community.”

UD created the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in 2016, naming Lawrence Burnley as the first vice president for diversity and inclusion. Since then, the office launched the Inclusive Excellence Academy, a professional development program for faculty and staff, and an annual Inclusive Excellence Scholar Residency which brings nationally recognized speakers on diversity and inclusion to campus each fall. Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, was the 2019 scholar-in-residence.

Following a two-year assessment of the social climate for faculty, staff and students, the University introduced a strategic plan in 2020 and established a council of faculty, staff and students to oversee those efforts. A presidential commission on the status of women also started this year, and in June, UD announced an 11-point action plan to become an anti-racist institution in response to worldwide protests against racial injustice.

Other notable diversity and inclusion efforts at UD include the establishment of an LGBTQ+ Support Center, and the creation of the Flyer Promise scholarship program to offer greater access and affordability for high-achieving and high-need students – many from underrepresented and underserved populations. Thanks to Flyer Promise and many other enrollment initiatives, UD’s entering fall classes have climbed from an average of 8.3% underrepresented students during the previous 10 years to an average of 16.7% each of the last three years, and an all-time high of 19.1% in fall 2020.

“We still have a long way to go on the road to where God is calling us to be, but this award is affirmation that UD’s steps on this journey are in the right direction,” Burnley said. “Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is not an option; it is a mission-driven imperative that enhances the quality of our educational environment.”

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine is the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. As a recipient of the annual HEED Award UD will be featured along with the other recipients in the November 2020 issue.

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