Students walking back a sign made up of giant letters that spell out \"VCU\"
VCU is one of a small number of universities to be designated as a Diversity Champion, a special honor for schools that exemplify an unyielding commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout campus communities, across academic programs and at the highest administrative levels. (Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

VCU recognized as a Diversity Champion for fifth straight year

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine ranked VCU in the top tier of 2023 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award recipients. VCU’s College of Health Professions was also recognized for making diversity and inclusion a top priority.

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Virginia Commonwealth University is a recipient of the 2023 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, marking the sixth time VCU has received the national honor that recognizes U.S. colleges and universities dedicated to creating a diverse and inclusive campus environment.

VCU is one of a small number of universities to also be designated as a Diversity Champion, a special honor for schools that rank in the top tier of HEED Award recipients and that exemplify an unyielding commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout campus communities, across academic programs and at the highest administrative levels.

It is the fifth straight year VCU has achieved recognition as a Diversity Champion.

“At VCU we take pride in being a public research university that welcomes students, faculty and staff with a diverse array of experiences,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “VCU is a high-standard, high-excellence and high-access national research university, and this award reflects our commitment to our mission of helping as many students as possible succeed.”

INSIGHT Into Diversity selected VCU because of the university’s numerous programs and initiatives that support diversity, equity and inclusion. Among highlights of the nomination:

  • VCU’s Institutional Equity Council, which is made up of DEI leaders across VCU who meet monthly to provide network support, participate in universitywide DEI strategies and processes, and support DEI work in their units. The HEED Award and Diversity Champion recognitions come as VCU is marking a 10-year milestone of having a centralized Inclusive Excellence unit.
  • VCU’s administration of the U.S. State Department’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, which enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad.
  • VCU’s achievement of a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Inclusive Excellence Award, in partnership with Brightpoint Community College and Reynolds Community College, to improve the academic outcomes for transfer students and, by extension, first-generation and African American, Latinx/Hispanic and Native American students majoring in STEM disciplines.
  • VCU’s general education curriculum, which seeks to provide a diverse student body with a broad base of knowledge and the intellectual skills to participate actively in a changing world.
  • VCU’s diverse cohort of four students and three alumni who were selected this year for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, a highly competitive national initiative that helps exceptional graduate students advance their studies in STEM disciplines.
  • VCU’s emphasis on inclusion of people with disabilities as part of DEI, with VCU’s Accessibility and Inclusion Working Group working to ensure that the perspective, priorities and needs of people with disabilities are reflected in decisions and policies at VCU.

“The application for the HEED Award is a collaborative team effort with partners across the university who serve VCU students, employees and alumni,” said Cleopatra Magwaro, associate vice president of Equity and Access Services at VCU. “In the space of a year, VCU attained our highest score ever — this is a testament that our programs, services and activities continue to have a far-reaching impact on our community that continues to grow. I am grateful for the thought leadership and knowledge sharing that demonstrate that the state of inclusion and belonging at VCU is integral to who we are as a community.”

Additionally, the VCU College of Health Professions is a recipient of the Health Professions HEED Award, which recognizes all accredited U.S. and Canadian health profession schools that are committed to making diversity and inclusion a top priority across their campuses.

“We are thrilled to be recognized for our commitment to diversity and inclusion, which are central to our college’s mission," said Paula H. Song, Ph.D., interim dean of the College of Health Professions, and Richard M. Bracken chair and professor. “I am grateful for the leadership of Dr. Stephan Davis, associate dean, and all our faculty and staff serving on committees advancing inclusive excellence and belonging as this award reflects our priority to continually create opportunities and foster growth in a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of our learning community.”

VCU and the other HEED Award recipients will be featured in the November/December issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

“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 — leadership support for diversity, campus culture and climate, supplier diversity and many other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, said in a news release. “We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a HEED Award recipient. Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campus.”