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FSU receives third consecutive national diversity and inclusion award

Florida State University’s continuing efforts to promote diversity and inclusion have earned national recognition for the third consecutive year. 

Florida State received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. FSU also won the award in 2014 and 2015. 

“We are committed to nurturing a diverse and inclusive community, and this award reflects our campus-wide efforts in this area,” President John Thrasher said. “Having a multicultural student body, faculty and staff enriches the academic environment for everyone.” 

Florida State’s comprehensive plan to unite efforts for diversity and inclusion began in 2007-2008 with the vision of being a university and workplace of choice. As a part of that plan, the President’s Diversity and Inclusion Council was created. The council is made up of faculty, staff and students who have demonstrated a commitment to diversity, inclusion and social justice and is championed by a steering committee composed of division vice presidents and senior staff members. Members of the council work throughout the year on a number of initiatives, including efforts to recruit and retain a diverse faculty, staff and student body. 

“We are honored to receive this award for the third year in a row,” said Renisha Gibbs, assistant vice president for Human Resources and the university’s chief diversity officer. “It is a reflection of the commitment made by our university community to impact the culture of our campus and make sustainable change.  There is still much to do, and we remain focused and committed.” 

The HEED Award is the only national honor for U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. 

HEED Award institutions were selected based on their exemplary diversity and inclusion initiatives that focus on all aspects of diversity, including gender, race, ethnicity, veterans, people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community. As a recipient of the annual HEED Award, Florida State will be featured in the November 2016 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. 

Earlier this year, Florida State was recognized by the magazine as one of seven Diversity Champion colleges and universities in the nation. Diversity Champions exemplify an unyielding commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout their campus communities, across academic programs and at the highest administrative levels. 

Among the steps the university has taken to implement this continuing initiative to improve diversity and inclusion are: 

Student Diversity and Inclusion Council (SDIC): A body composed of diverse student leaders serving under the auspices of the Office of the President.  In September, the SDIC launched a campaign, the #PowerOfWe, the first student-drive, university-wide diversity and inclusion campaign. The campaign includes events throughout the academic year with the goal of inspiring a campus culture that engages across different perspectives and identities. 

National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI): FSU has contracted with NCBI to establish the university as an affiliate and develop a campus team. This team is the recognized diversity and inclusion training team for the university and will proactively deliver a skill-building curriculum focused on promoting and maintaining an inclusive and welcoming campus environment. The inaugural team was established in Fall 2016. 

Employee Resource Groups: FSU currently has four employee resource groups for faculty and staff — the Latin@ Faculty Advocacy and Resource Group, the Black Faculty and Staff Organization, the LGBTQ+ Faculty Staff network and the Veterans Friends and Family Group. In addition, the university created an Affinity Group Guide to provide general information for employees interested in establishing an affinity group and as a resource for any affinity group that currently exists. A published framework is also available to assist individuals who are interested in establishing a new group. 

Diversity & Inclusion Mini-Grant Program: The mini-grant program has been established to provide grants to faculty, staff and students in support of their diversity and inclusion initiatives and projects that further the diversity goals of the university. The inaugural mini-grant program will launch in Fall 2016. 

FSU Supplier Diversity Program: A program designed to enhance the university’s supplier base that reflects the wide diversity of our students, faculty, staff and community by expanding relationships and enriching economic opportunities for small, minority and women-owned businesses. 

Entrepreneurial Boot Camp for Veterans (EBV) Program: Cutting-edge, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management for veterans disabled as a result of their service supporting post-9/11 operations. 

FSU Global Pathways Certificate Program: A program that exposes FSU students to rich cultural learning experiences. 

Seminole Allies and Safe Zone Training: A program that provides free workshops offered regularly throughout the school year to students, faculty and staff. The trainings are presented as an intensive three-hour, in-house session focused on allyship and contemporary issues related to the LGBTQ community. 

Embracing Diversity Course: Through interactive activities and videos, participants are introduced to the value proposition for diversity to include culture as a framework for understanding diversity, different generations in the workplace, tools on how to handle conflicts and much more. This training is offered twice per semester. Since 2012, 403 employees have completed the training. 

Cultural Competency Certificate: A certificate program to assist graduate students and teaching assistants in creating credible and meaningful practice through diversity and inclusion. This certificate focuses on enhancing awareness, knowledge and skills in the area of multicultural competence to work more effectively with diverse student populations and issues related to diversity. 

Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Series: Established in 2014, the training certificate creates an opportunity for faculty and staff to explore strategic areas around diversity and to learn more about the ways in which they can assist in creating a welcoming and inclusive campus for all. Eleven faculty and staff have received the certificate and more than 100 are currently matriculating through the series. 

commUNITY Dialogue Series: A speaker series that aims to identify key faculty, staff and community members to join FSU students in a discussion surrounding identity and current events. 

Website: A dedicated website that is a hub for diversity and inclusion resources, such as lists of leadership programs for students, faculty and staff, best practices for recruitment and retention of faculty and community outreach efforts. 

Policies: A focus on making sure the university’s policies and programs are aligned with the university’s philosophy of diversity and inclusion to ensure there are no barriers to optimal performance. 

For more information about the 2016 HEED Award, visit http://www.insightintodiversity.com. For more information on Florida State’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, visit hr.fsu.edu/diversity