OU Receives National Awards for Diversity Efforts
The University of Oklahoma’s commitment to building OU into a place of belonging is being nationally recognized. INSIGHT Into Diversity, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education today, has honored OU with the prestigious 2021 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award, which recognizes colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.
The publication is also presenting OU with its Inspiring Programs in STEM Award, which honors an institution’s efforts to encourage students from underrepresented backgrounds to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
OU will be featured, along with 100 other recipients, in the November 2021 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.
“We are honored to be recognized for working intentionally to advance and improve the sense of belonging and emotional growth across all three OU campuses,” said Belinda Higgs Hyppolite, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer. “This award shows the community’s commitment to improving the conditions that matter to students, faculty, staff and alumni.”
The HEED Award acknowledges OU’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for its comprehensive approach to support the “Lead On, University” Strategic Plan, which charges the university to become a place of belonging.
In an effort to improve campus climate, the division planned a rich calendar of initiatives tailored to various audiences. To nurture a sense of community, two Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Weeks were held during 2020-2021 academic year, offering both in-person and virtual events for a total of 2,160 students, faculty and staff across OU’s three campuses.
Additionally, the first Health Equity and Social Justice conference was launched to bring awareness about the ways in which the health of marginalized populations is disproportionately affected. The conference attracted 333 participants, mainly from the Health Sciences Center.
The division also launched a new training series last fall, “Rooted in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: The Change Starts with Me.” The series is designed to accompany faculty, staff and graduate students through a self-discovery journey to understand how one’s identities influence world views and everyday actions. From its inception in 2020, 600 participants have attended the series workshops.
Inspiring Programs in STEM Award
INSIGHT Into Diversity also recognized OU’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for its efforts to recruit and retain underrepresented students in health care areas of study at OU.
In collaboration with the seven health professional colleges at the OU Health Sciences Center, the division hosts the annual Aspiring Health Professions Summer Academy, a program for high school students from underrepresented backgrounds who are interested in pursuing a career in the health care profession. As of 2020, when the academy was offered via a virtual platform, 103 high school students graduated from the program.
During the week-long experience, students partake in hands-on activities and simulations, as well as engage in meaningful discussions with current OU students and faculty. Sessions on mentorship, financial aid, money management and admissions processes are also offered during the academy.
Article Published: Wednesday, September 22, 2021