The University of La Verne became one of 55 institutions to be nationally recognized for its diversity efforts this year.
Spearheaded by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity, or HEED, award commemorates educational institutions across the nation for their efforts to create diverse campus communities. The award is in its second year.
“We are honored to receive this recognition,” University President Devorah Lieberman said in an email. “The efforts and the outcomes in the area of inclusivity and diversity all speak to our values and are threaded throughout all we do.”
Covering diversity and higher education for nearly four decades, INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine established the HEED award last year as a way to recognize schools that went the extra mile to create an inclusive learning environment.
“Nobody was honoring the work that diversity offices in schools were doing,” publisher Lenore Pearlstein said. “Really they have to work with everybody on campus. We wanted to honor the schools doing a lot of work so they could let people know about it. Almost like when you go to buy a car and know the car has won a J.D. Power award, you know that’s probably going to be a great car.”
After schools apply for the award, Pearlstein, her co-owner and occasionally an editorial board of experts evaluate a number of diversity-related factors, such as ethnic backgrounds, participation of those with disabilities, veterans and the LGBT community, among others.
“A lot of times it’s hard to figure out how well you’re doing in terms of diversity efforts compared to other campuses,” Joy Lei, chief diversity and inclusivity officer, said. “Since this is a national award, they would be comparing the applications to other campuses. There’s both recognizing what we’re already doing and what we can also be doing more of.”
A number of clubs at ULV reflect the growing diversity among students.
“I’ve noticed students are very open to new cultures, religions and ideas,” Rosana Chavez, senior economics major and president of the Latino Student Forum, said.
The Japanese Culture Club hosts events aimed at familiarizing students with Japanese philosophies and traditions.
“We have a lot of people that want to learn, and we have people from Japan that want to be involved here,” said club president Kimberly Navarro, proud that native Japanese members are happy with the club’s work.
As another initiative to spread culture and diversity throughout ULV, Navarro studied abroad and spent a week in Japan earlier this year. Administrators still aim higher.
“We have been operating on some good traditions,” Lei said. “But sometimes with good traditions it doesn’t necessarily mean you have the policies. We want to be sure we are implementing and creating very fair and inclusive policies that everybody can operate by.”
Des Delgadillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.