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LSU Honored with Awards for Outstanding Diversity Initiatives

Cultural inclusion at LSU is paramount to the success of the university. This fall, LSU has been awarded two prestigious awards for its outstanding diversity initiatives. On Nov. 16, LSU received the inaugural Higher Education Excellence in Diversity, or HEED, Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. On Oct. 18, LSU was presented with the second annual Greater Baton Rouge Society for Human Resource Management’s Excellence in Diversity Award.

Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award logo

LSU's Office of Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach, or EDCO, oversees the diversity efforts of the university. EDCO is a division of the Office of Academic Affairs that is committed to fostering inclusive educational opportunities and an equitable workforce environment at LSU.

EDCO assists administrators, deans, department chairs/heads and directors in identifying and implementing policies and procedures to increase diversity in their respective areas; assist in building rapport among people who are different and reducing resistance to diversity initiatives; and provide evidenced-based principles and "best practices," which strengthen knowledge, awareness and skills for working and learning in a diverse educational community.

"We know that diversity enriches the educational experience, promotes critical thinking and intellectual curiosity, and strengthens university communities," said Katrice Albert, vice provost of Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach at LSU. "As such, EDCO's role at LSU is to provide necessary leadership on innovative approaches and effective strategies that will assist colleges, departments and units in meeting and exceeding their specific diversity goals and objectives."

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine selected LSU based on the university's exemplary diversity and inclusion initiatives; and the selection process included looking at all aspects of diversity including gender, race, ethnicity, veterans, people with disabilities and members of the LGBT community.

"We are delighted that LSU has been selected as an inaugural recipient of the HEED award," said Albert. "Our commitment to diversity as a major focus area of Flagship 2020, our largest enrollment of African-American and Latino students, our dedicated effort to increase historically underutilized business vendors with the LSU Supplier Diversity Initiative, our expanded African American Cultural Center and Women's Center, and the investment of the LSU National Diversity Advisory Board were all cited as major reasons for being selected for this prestigious award."

As a winner of the HEED award – a national award honoring U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion – LSU will be featured along with 47 other recipients in INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine's December 2012 issue.

"We hope the HEED award serves as a reminder that diversity and inclusion must remain priorities in the 21st-century higher education landscape," said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. "Every college and university should recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion as being part of their everyday life on campus.

"Our students of today are the employees of tomorrow and the future of our country. As students begin to enter the workforce and a global society, they must first be surrounded by and supported by faculty and staff that understand the differences among cultures and their needs."

For nearly 40 years, INSIGHT Into Diversity has been connecting employees with institutions and businesses that embrace a workforce that is reflective of today's world. INSIGHT Into Diversity's decades of experience in recruiting employees from all underrepresented groups has earned them a reputation in higher education, business and government for finding the most dynamic talent in every field. INSIGHT Into Diversity successfully connects employers to the most highly qualified individuals regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, medical condition or history, veteran status, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation.

The other recipients of the 2012 HEED award are Alcorn State University; Alliant International University; Captial Community College; Case Western Reserve University; Catawba Valley Community College; College at Brockport: State University of New York; Davenport University; Delta College; East Carolina University; Ferris State University; Gadsden State Community College; Georgia State University; Hodges University; Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Marshall University; Michigan State University; Michigan Technological University; Millersville University; Moraine Valley Community College; New Mexico State University; Oklahoma State University; Pensacola State College; Phoenix College; Raritan Valley Community College; Southern Illinois University; Southwestern Law School; St. Cloud State University; SUNY System; Texas Tech University; Trident Technical College; Tufts University School of Dental Medicine; United States Air Force Academy; University of Akron; University of California, San Francisco; University of California, Santa Barbara; University of Central Florida; University of Cincinnati; University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; University of North Texas; University of South Carolina; University of Texas; University of the Rockies; University of Virginia; Virginia Commonwealth University; Wake Forest University; Western Oregon University; and William Mitchell College of Law.

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The 2011-2012 Diversity Report ccommemorates the progress and accomplishments of the Office of Equity, Diversity and Community Outreach; highlights the talents of our diverse community; and showcases university programs and demographics related to diversity efforts.

The Greater Baton Rouge Society for Human Resource Management's Excellence in Diversity Award is given to a company in the Greater Baton Rouge area with a reputation for having an outstanding diversity program. The award is based on successful implementation of diversity initiatives. The inaugural award was presented to the Baton Rouge General Medical Center in 2011.

"We are very proud that SHRM recognized LSU as the 2012 Excellence in Diversity Award Recipient. The leadership of SHRM specifically acknowledged LSU's commitment to increasing cultural competence of faculty and staff through our Spring Faculty Enrichment Series," said Albert. "These culturally relevant workshops are co-facilitated by faculty and allow participants to have bona fide conversations about major topics related to departmental cultural and civility, pedagogy and strategies that improve teaching in multicultural classrooms, and encourages cultural awareness in the workplace. We were delighted that the Spring Faculty Enrichment Series was a program that SHRM considered when selecting us for this award."

Increased diversity is one of the tenants of LSU's Flagship 2020, which also includes learning, discovery and engagement. Flagship 2020's diversity goals are to strengthen the intellectual environment by broadening the cultural diversity of the LSU community by increasing diversity among faculty, staff and students; increasing the number of students who work with or live in diverse communities; and expanding supportive communities for minority, international and first generation students.

"LSU's strategic commitment to access, academic quality, student success and diversity is a certainly a permanent strength," said Albert. "The Flagship Agenda is a living document that challenges us to strengthen the intellectual environment by broadening the cultural diversity of the campus. While we celebrate receiving these awards for our diversity efforts thus far, we know that we must redouble our efforts to meet the performance objectives of diversity and claim victory on these goals in 2020."

Despite ever increasing admissions standards, LSU has begun achieving some of its diversity enrollment goals as African-American and Hispanic enrollment is now at an all-time high. This fall, African-American student enrollment is at 3,054, which passed the previous high of 3,035 students set in 2002. Hispanic student enrollment is at a high of 1,305 students in 2012, compared to the previous high of 1,149 students in 2011.

"We have worked extremely hard to recruit, admit and enroll a very diverse and academically talented freshman class. In particular, we have enrolled the largest overall population of African American and Hispanic students in the university's history," said Albert. "LSU's strategic commitment to access, academic quality, student success, and diversity is a permanent strength and is very attractive to incoming students and their families."

"I am thrilled that ethnic minority students are now choosing LSU because of who we are as a university community. While I am very pleased with the quality and diversity of the Class of 2016, there is still work to be done. We must redouble our retention efforts and continue to communicate the unique benefits associated with attending the only flagship research university in the state."

LSU's Office of Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach provides leadership to ensure that diversity continues to be a vital component in all decision-making processes on all administrative, academic, budgetary and strategic planning fronts. EDCO is also responsible for supervising and guiding professional units whose purpose and mission is to promote understanding and respect for difference. These units include the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the African American Cultural Center, the Women's Center, the Community University Partnership, and is affiliated with the Office of the University Ombudsperson. EDCO also works closely with university committees, commissions, task forces and affinity groups whose charge is to support underrepresented LSU community members.

For more information about the HEED award, visit INSIGHT Into Diversitymagazine's website at www.insightintodiversity.com. For more information about LSU's Office of Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach, visit www.lsu.edu/diversity.

Top photo (from left to right): front row - Brandon Smith, Penni Fontenot and Krystie Nguyen; second row - LaKeitha Poole, Summer Steib, Katrice Albert, Chaunda Allen and Janae Johnson; third row - Britton Tempton, Bret Blackmon and Tarchia Rankins; fourth row - Vincent Harris, Chad Freeman, Cierra Carter and Allison Smith.

Photo by Jim Zietz