SVSU wins HEED diversity award


SVSU was one of 95 universities in the nation to receive the 2018 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award.

HEED is hosted by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, which is the oldest and largest magazine about diversity in higher education. SVSU will appear in the magazine for its November issue.

SVSU applied for the awards in 2016 and 2018, winning both times.

“It is a process to apply for HEED,” said Mamie T. Thorns, the special assistant to the president for Diversity Programs. “It’s open to all colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada.”

It measures institutional levels of achievement and intensity of commitment regarding broadening diversity and inclusion on campus through initiatives, programs, outreach, student recruitment, retention and hiring practices for faculty and staff.

“It took a team of individuals working together to collect the information to put into this application,” Thorns said. “If it had not been for the faculty, staff and students who make this campus every day what it is, we would not have received this award.”

HEED applicants also had to discuss examples of how they were implementing diversity and inclusion. For example, SVSU mentioned The PRIDE Center, Great Lakes Bay Regional Youth Leadership Institute, campus guest speakers, advancements to the university’s health programs, the STEM at SVSU program, the Writing Center, Alternatives Breaks and more.

SVSU President Donald Bachand was pleased with the work Thorns and other staff and administrators have done to attain the HEED Award.

“We wouldn’t have gotten this award without the work of herself and all the faculty who were part of the process,” Bachand said.

Thorns enjoyed applying for the HEED Award because it let the university celebrate their achievements and reevaluate their goals relating to diversity and inclusion moving forward.
“I’ve been here since 2002,” Thorns said. “So, it’s good to see some of the initiatives that we started when I first started developing.”

Bachand hopes to further promote diversity and inclusion by continuing to offer workshops and training programs on diversity and inclusion for SVSU staff and for freshmen.

“We always have robust attendance at these workshops,” Bachand said. “We do not force faculty to attend, either. They come voluntarily, which is a testament to our commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

While SVSU does not apply for the HEED Award every year given the challenges of collecting data and information needed for the application, Thorns does believe SVSU will apply again next year.

“I have some new ideas that we can put a spin on the application,” Thorns said. “We’re hopefully going to be partnering with (Dean of Health and Human Services Judith Ruland) and her faculty and staff, because they’re doing an awfully lot in our region, and we’d like to see them recognized for their achievements.”