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Inclusion efforts praised by higher ed’s largest diversity publication

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The largest diversity magazine and website in higher education continues to recognize the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for programs, initiatives and efforts that promote equity and inclusion.

UL Lafayette is one of 90 colleges and universities to earn the 2020 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. It is the third year in a row the University has been recognized. Honorees will be featured in the magazine’s November issue.

The publication evaluated schools in the U.S. and Canada for contributions in advancing diversity and inclusion. Factors such as recruitment and campus leadership were also weighed.

“The award is significant because it recognizes the University’s commitment to all segments of campus, and to providing equal access to educational opportunities for underrepresented groups,” said Dr. Taniecea Mallery, UL Lafayette’s executive director of Strategic Initiatives and chief diversity officer.

“Equally significant is the recognition of the University’s key role as a leader in advancing diversity and inclusion – not only across campus, but in the community,” she added.

Mallery cited several programs, initiatives and resources that helped the University receive the HEED award.

The University’s Women’s Leadership Conference held each March is a community-wide commemoration of Women’s History Month. The conference is designed to empower women, and provide a forum for professional networking and personal development.

It features nationally recognized speakers. Community leaders from education, business and nonprofits direct workshops. Panel discussions address topics such as the history of women’s suffrage and voter representation, which was discussed at this year’s conference. Trailblazers who work to advance women’s equity are honored.

More than 300 students, faculty and staff members, and community leaders from across Louisiana typically attend the conference. It began in 2008.

The Black Student Achievement Awards program also caught the attention of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. The University’s Black Faculty and Staff Association has hosted the event for 31 years to honor high achieving students and their families.

This spring, 581 students were recognized during a virtual ceremony. As part of the event, a total of four scholarships were awarded to academically gifted undergraduate and graduate students.

Mallery also singled out the Office for Campus Diversity’s collaboration with community partners to foster diversity, equity and inclusion. In late 2019, for example, the University, the Leadership Institute of Acadiana, and Lafayette Consolidated Government hosted the “Taking Action on Board Diversity: An Inclusive Approach to Board Service” workshop.

Executive directors and board members from local nonprofits and community organizations led a discussion about diversity and inclusion.

In an article published in its May/June 2020 issue, INSIGHT into Diversity praised two other University programs. It featured UL Lafayette’s Learning is for Everyone, or LIFE, program and its Courageous Conversations workshop series.

The UL LIFE program provides an academic foundation, work experience and social opportunities for students with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. Students enroll in classes designed specifically for them, and audit regularly scheduled classes with other University students, who serve as mentors.

Courageous Conversations are designed to bolster diversity and inclusion in the classroom, across campus and in the community. Faculty, staff members and students gather monthly to share experiences, ideas and resources as part of the series.

Mallery said University efforts to promote diversity and inclusion are being guided, in large part, by a Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence created by the Office for Campus Diversity. The comprehensive plan outlines goals for expanding programs and professional development resources that advance equity and inclusion.

“It provides a framework for the continual development of policies, resources and initiatives that continue building upon the progress we’ve made in advancing equity and inclusion across campus and in the community,” Mallery explained.

Learn more about diversity and inclusion at the University at the Office for Campus Diversity website.

Photo caption:  For the third year in a row, contributions in advancing diversity and inclusion on campus and in the community have earned UL Lafayette the 2020 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette