SIUE recognized with HEED Award for diversity efforts

Certifiable changes, such as the Political Science Department requiring students to take classes related to race and identity, led SIUE to win the HEED Award for its diversity efforts. 

The HEED Award is given by Insight Into Diversity magazine, a diversity publication in higher education, and requires documented progress each year. 

“What you have to do is each year be able to document the progress you’re making, and also what are you doing in certain areas when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion,” Venessa Brown, associate chancellor for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and chief diversity officer said. “You have to show progress from year to year.”

Brown said SIUE’s Anti-Racism Task Force and graduation rate are two items they could document. 

“We can document what efforts are we making to ensure that all students graduate,” Brown said. “We document the work we do on Diversity Day, bringing all of us together. We document our summits, we document our town halls, we document how LGBT students feel at SIUE, we document how our military students progress and how they feel at SIUE.” 

Ken Moffett, chair of the Political Science Department, said courses that were once electives will now be requirements for political science majors to graduate.  

“Students have to choose between one of four different courses. One on African American politics, one on women in politics, one on gay and lesbian politics and then a fourth one on women in cross-national politics,” Moffett said. “All of those are courses that the department currently offers as elective courses to political science majors, but those four courses are put in a grouping and will now be required for all political science majors to graduate, to choose one of those four.”

Moffett said changes to the department are a result of a broad overhaul of the political science program, as the undergraduate program had not been looked at holistically in a long time.

“The political science major in some ways didn’t necessarily reflect student demand at times, and also at times what political science as a profession looks like. This particular change intersects very nicely with both of those because, for one thing, students now place a much higher degree of importance on issues of diversity and equity and equality and along those lines than, say, students in previous generations did. And there’s a fair bit of survey data to back that up,” Moffett said. “Another thing is that political science as a profession itself has much more emphasized approaches in race and ethnic politics, and women in politics, than it did in previous generations.”

J.T. Snipes, assistant professor in the School of Education, Health and Human Behavior and president of the Black Faculty Staff Association, said a single award may not capture a campus’s culture, but reflects anti-racism efforts from a campus community. 

“I think awards are recognition of something. On … places as diverse as college campuses, it’s hard to even capture the culture or the efficacy or what an institution does through a single honor or an award. I think what the HEED Award acknowledges is effort, and action taken by a community on campus that values diversity,” Snipes said. 

The HEED Award is particularly noteworthy because it is external recognition, Snipes said. 

“Over the past 40 years, there has been an increase in institutional diversity from these different units internally, so that process is very common, and I think to be recognized externally is less common. There are less spaces that are awarding campuses around the work that they’re doing,” Snipes said. 

Visit the website for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion to learn more about SIUE’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

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