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University's commitment to inclusion earns national acclaim

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For the second year in a row, UL Lafayette has earned the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award.

The University is among 93 recipients of the award announced today by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. The honorees will be featured in the November 2019 issue. It is the largest diversity magazine and website in higher education.

The publication assessed colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada for their contributions and efforts in advancing diversity and inclusion.

“Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campuses,” stated Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, in press release.

Dr. Taniecea Mallery, UL Lafayette’s executive director of Strategic Initiatives and chief diversity officer, said the recognition “represents the University’s ongoing commitment to providing programs, resources and initiatives that embrace underrepresented students and scholars.”

Mallery said underrepresented groups includes minorities, “but isn’t limited to race and ethnicity. It encompasses many human identities. Gender identity, religion, or socioeconomic status are several examples.”

Mallery cited several programs, initiatives and resources that contributed to the University being recognized with the HEED award.

The James Jackson Community of Scholars, which provides support for graduate students from underrepresented groups, is named for the first African-American student to complete a graduate degree at the University, Dr. James Jackson.

He earned a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision in 1963.

Mallery also singled out the UL LIFE, or Learning is for Everyone, program for students with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities.

Students take classes designed and taught specifically for them, audit regularly scheduled classes with other students, and attend campus events and social activities.

Another initiative Mallery referenced was the University’s Campus Cupboard. The pantry for undergraduate and graduate students offers short-term assistance for students who need help meeting their food needs.

“Food insecurity can affect anyone, so the campus pantry is indicative of the University’s commitment to serving all students, including underrepresented groups,” Mallery explained.

Mallery said the University won’t rest on its laurels going forward. The Office for Campus Diversity has created a Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence that will guide the University’s diversity efforts for the next three years.

The plan calls for increasing engagement across campus and in the community, and developing policies and increasing professional development resources that advance equity and inclusion.

“Initiatives outlined in the strategic plan underscore the University’s commitment to building on progress we’ve made in the area of diversity and inclusion. Among objectives in the plan are increasing enrollment and retention among underrepresented students and increasing professional development resources for faculty and staff members,” Mallery said.

Learn more about diversity and inclusion at the University and its Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence at the Office for Campus Diversity website.

Photo caption: Dr. James Jackson, shown speaking to graduate students last year at Edith Garland Dupré Library, is the first African-American student to complete a graduate degree at the University. UL Lafayette’s James Jackson Community of Scholars provides support for graduate students from underrepresented groups. (Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)