Penn State receives Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State has been selected as a recipient of the 2013 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award, announced Wednesday (Oct. 16) in the November issue of INSIGHT into Diversity magazine.

The award, given to 56 higher education institutions this year, recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that have exceptional strategies and programs to help achieve diversity and inclusion across campus.

“Penn State is proud of its long commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said President Rodney Erickson. “We are honored to be recognized as a national leader in diversity strategic planning, and we thank the students, faculty, staff and administration who have worked to meet our diversity goals. We remain committed to an inclusive future at Penn State.”

To be considered for the award, institutions had to complete a 40-question application outlining their diversity initiatives. The publication took a broad approach to diversity when considering applicant schools. It looked at race and ethnicity, disabilities, women’s issues, veterans issues and LGBT issues across campus programs, including students recruitment, retention and completion; recruitment and retention of faculty members; administrative diversity; suppliers; student services; hiring and employee policies; curriculums; programs and affinity groups; and community partnerships.

Penn State recognizes diversity as a core value of its academic mission in its strategic plan, A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State, which outlines seven diversity challenges within the dimensions of Campus Climate and Intergroup Relations, Representation (Access and Success), Education and Scholarship, and Institutional Viability and Vitality. Penn State has three University-wide President’s Equity Commissions, and each college, campus and administrative unit has a diversity committee, many of which also have committees at the department level. The University also has a strong commitment to TRIO programs and a host of programs that reach out to first-generation, low-income, pre-college students; support academic success; and offer need-based scholarships.

“Penn State has an unprecedented number of programs and initiatives in place that provide substantial opportunities for students, faculty and staff from all groups,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT in Diversity magazine. “It is apparent that diversity and inclusion is an imperative on their campus.”

Penn State’s Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equality has roots dating back to 1989 when a diversity officer position was created. The office was formally instated in July 1990, and is charged with creating a climate of diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the University’s faculty, staff, leadership and student body.

“Penn State was among the first universities to create an extensive infrastructure that places a focus on educational equity, and this award is further external validation that we continue to be a leader in fostering campus diversity,” said Victoria Sanchez, assistant vice provost for Educational Equity. “The HEED Award shows how far we’ve come and encourages us to continue working toward our diversity and inclusion initiatives and goals.”

Penn State was one of three award recipients from Pennsylvania. For more information about the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity, visit

Penn State is only one of three colleges and universities in Pennsylvania to be recognized with a 2013 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award.  Credit: Insight into Diversity magazineAll Rights Reserved.

Last Updated October 31, 2013