WEST CHESTER, PA — West Chester University was selected for the second consecutive year to receive the 2021 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.
WCU earned this honor for the first time in 2020, along with 89 other recipients. This year, 101 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada were selected.
The HEED award measures an institution’s level of achievement and intensity of commitment in regard to broadening diversity and inclusion on campus through initiatives, programs, and outreach; student recruitment, retention, and completion; and hiring practices for faculty and staff. West Chester and the other award recipients will be featured in the November 2021 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.
INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine selected West Chester University as a result of its demonstrated resolve and innovative initiatives. Some key programs include:
- Ram Shop: WCU is the first university in the country to open an on-campus convenience store, the Ram Shop, to provide workplace training for autistic students to practice and master social and professional skills. The Ram Shop works in partnership with the University’s growing Dub-C Autism Program. Beyond graduation, the University is working to ensure that the students are able to gain employment. This initiative intends to address the statistic that nationally 85% of college graduates with autism are unemployed.
- Alpha Alpha Alpha: WCU established a new chapter of an honor society for first-generation college students: Alpha Alpha Alpha (Tri-Alpha) during the 2020-2021 academic year. Of nearly 170 eligible WCU students, 56 were inducted for this inaugural cohort. Students qualify for induction into Tri-Alpha by earning at least 30 credit hours toward a baccalaureate degree and achieving an overall undergraduate GPA of at least 3.2. First-generation graduate students must have completed the equivalent of at least one term (9 or more graduate credits) and have a GPA in their graduate program of at least 3.5.
- WCU Resource Pantry: The University’s Resource Pantry supports student success by minimizing food and basic need security and preparing students for life after graduation. Since 2016, it has partnered with the local county food bank, individuals and other organizations. The Pantry operates five days a week during the academic year and three days a week over the summer and winter breaks, providing food (both non-perishable and fresh produce donated from the WCU campus gardens), personal care items, school supplies, and career clothing. The Resource Pantry also offers programs throughout the school year, including financial literacy workshops and cooking demonstrations.
“The HEED Award demonstrates engagement in an array of best practices, in addition to innovation and a collective commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said West Chester University Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Tracey Ray Robinson. “We are so proud to receive this national recognition for the second time. Diversity is broadly defined and this award recognizes how the University goes the extra mile.”
“The HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees — and best practices for both — continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a HEED Award recipient. 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.”
For more information about the 2021 HEED Award, visit insightintodiversity.com.
For more information about West Chester University, visit wcupa.edu.
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