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University of Georgia receives national diversity award for third consecutive year

For the third year in a row, the University of Georgia has received national recognition for its efforts to foster an inclusive, diverse campus.

UGA is one of 83 recipients of the 2016 INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award, the only designation of its kind awarded to institutions that demonstrate outstanding efforts and success in promoting diversity and inclusion throughout their campuses.

"It is a great honor for the University of Georgia to be recognized with the HEED Award for the third consecutive year," said President Jere W. Morehead. "UGA is strengthened by the contributions of its diverse and outstanding students, faculty and staff. We are committed to fostering the kind of inclusive academic environment that is a hallmark of a leading public university."

UGA, which first received the recognition in 2014, has implemented several initiatives over the past decade to recruit diverse students, faculty and staff and to improve the graduation rates of underrepresented groups. The university offers myriad diversity related events and curricular offerings.

"As a community, the University of Georgia continues to excel in every metric," said Michelle Garfield Cook, associate provost and chief diversity officer. "Our success in our diversity and inclusion efforts is one that we celebrate throughout the year, and therefore the HEED Award is a national recognition that the entire UGA community should be proud of."

Programs such UGA Road Dawgs, through which a diverse group of students tours Georgia high schools to talk with prospective undergraduates, have bolstered minority enrollment at UGA. Diversity among first-year students reached a record level this fall, and overall minority enrollment has increased from 22 percent in 2004 to 29 percent in 2016.

UGA's six-year graduation rate for African-American students is 87 percent-more than double the national average, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The graduation rate of 80 percent for Hispanic students also far exceeds the national average.

Recent initiatives designed to support diversity include the opening of a Student Veterans Resource Center in 2013, the launch of the Women's Leadership Initiative in 2015 and the opening of The Intersection, a dedicated space for discussions on a range of topics, also in 2015. Destination Dawgs, a new inclusive post-secondary education program for students with intellectual or development disabilities, is set to begin in spring 2017, and a campus climate survey was completed last year.

"The diverse experiences and perspectives that our students, faculty and staff bring to our campuses help create an outstanding learning environment that prepares all of our students for success in the 21st century global economy," said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten.

UGA hosts numerous multicultural/diversity events each year for students, faculty, staff and the community, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Breakfast, the International Street Festival, the Holmes-Hunter Lecture-which honors the first African-American students to enroll at UGA-and other special events.

As a HEED Award recipient, the university will be featured in the November issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity, the oldest and largest diversity magazine and website in higher education.

"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. "While we look at numbers and expect continued improvement for those schools that receive the HEED Award year after year, we also use a holistic approach in reviewing each application. Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being accomplished every day across their campus."