Montana State University

MSU receives national honor recognizing commitment to diversity and inclusion

September 16, 2014 -- MSU News Service

Montana State University recently received a 2014 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity, or HEED, award, a national honor that recognizes the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Universities that were selected for the award underwent a comprehensive review. Among other measures, MSU’s application highlighted a number of its efforts to improve graduation rates among students from underrepresented groups. One such effort is the Caring for Our Own program, or CO-OP, which supports Native American and Alaska Native students pursuing nursing degrees at MSU. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

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Montana State University has received a national honor recognizing its commitment to diversity and inclusion. 

MSU is one of only 83 institutions from across the nation – and the only university in Montana – to receive the 2014 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity, or HEED, award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. Among other measures, MSU was selected based on the university’s initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion, as well as its work to embrace a broad definition of diversity on campus, including diversity by gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, veteran status and disability status.

“MSU is honored to be recognized for its commitment to promoting a diverse and inclusive learning environment,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado. “Our thousands of students, faculty members and staff members possess unique outlooks that reflect the world around us, and we know that learning is enhanced when topics are examined from diverse perspectives. MSU strives to embrace and enhance this rich environment by facilitating open discussion, encouraging ongoing examination of values and intentionally developing a campus climate that is welcoming to all.” 

Universities that were selected for the award underwent a comprehensive review that critically examined the extent and effectiveness with which institutions integrated diversity into their policies, programs, trainings, recruitment processes and leadership.

Among other measures, MSU’s application highlighted a number of its efforts to improve graduation rates among students from underrepresented groups, including its Veteran Support Center, which is designed to serve the university’s approximately 600 student veterans; the McNair Scholars Program, which supports the success of students whose families have not traditionally participated in post-secondary education; EMPower, or the Engineering Minority Program, which encourages the involvement of women and minorities in engineering; and Caring for Our Own Program, or CO-OP, which supports Native American and Alaska Native students pursuing nursing degrees at MSU.

It also included information on a number of events MSU hosts throughout the year that celebrate and promote diversity and multiculturalism, including American Indian Heritage Day, Holocaust Remembrance Day, International Education Week, Martin Luther King Day lecture and events, National Coming Out Day events, Women’s History Month events, and the International Street Food Bazaar.

“The application process for this award was rigorous and thorough. Rather than looking only at statistics, this award really recognizes MSU’s comprehensive efforts to increase diversity on our campus,” said Ariel Donohue, program manager in MSU’s Diversity Awareness Office, which aims to increase understanding, promote inclusion, inspire critical thinking about diversity and provide support for those who identify with a wide range of diverse identity groups. “The Diversity Awareness Office is very proud of the work MSU is doing to promote diversity and inclusion among our students, faculty and staff.” 

In addition to MSU, among the universities selected for the 2014 HEED award are Cornell University, Case Western Reserve University, The Pennsylvania State University and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

More information about the 2014 HEED award is available at www.insightintodiversity.com.

Contact: Ariel Donohue, program manager, Diversity Awareness Office, (406) 994-5801 or ariel.donohue@montana.edu