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East Carolina University's efforts to encourage a diverse and inclusive environment have received recognition for the fourth consecutive year by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Four years of leadership in diversity recognized

Sept. 16, 2015

By Jamitress Bowden
Office for Equity and Diversity

For the fourth consecutive year, East Carolina University has been recognized by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine with its Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award.

National institutions are recognized with the HEED Award for exhibiting “outstanding efforts and success in the area of diversity and inclusion,” according to the award’s citation.
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ECU is the only North Carolina institution to receive this distinction four years in a row.

“This award speaks volumes about the efforts across campus to increase diversity and inclusion at East Carolina University,” said LaKesha Alston Forbes, associate provost for equity and diversity. “We have initiatives and leadership in place at ECU that warrant the national recognition.”

Various committees and offices across the east and west campuses work toward making sure that East Carolina continues to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for success, Forbes said. The Chancellor’s Diversity Leadership Cabinet, the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women, the Diversity Committee in the Staff Senate, the Brody School of Medicine Diversity Office, the Ledonia Wright Cultural Center and the Office for Equity and Diversity sponsor many initiatives and programs throughout the year to keep topics of equity, inclusion and diversity at the forefront.

As an institution ECU has prioritized diversity at every level, as shown in the 2014-2019 strategic plan, “Beyond Tomorrow: Our commitment to the future.” In the plan 25 units, consisting of university colleges and divisions, all have a goal of diversity.

The strategic plan focuses on three areas, including maximizing student success. To achieve this goal ECU commits to reflecting “a global workplace and society by diversifying our faculty, staff, and students.”

“Keeping our commitment to diversity is one of the university’s guiding principles, and it’s evident that we are keeping this commitment. It will remain a priority as we move forward,” said Forbes.

The Admissions Office continues its part of the commitment to diversity in recruitment and outreach efforts, she noted. Individuals in the office work directly with local minority organizations and Upward BOUND programs to provide local students with exposure to a higher education environment and information about the university. The office also works with grade-school and community college students to ensure that information about ECU is reaching underrepresented and minority students.

“It’s important that our current students and employees in addition to the visitors and future students and employees feel that they can thrive in a diverse and inclusive environment,” said Forbes.

Future initiatives to continue excellence in diversity includes a campus climate survey and an academic requirement for students to complete diversity courses. Forbes explained that in order to move forward with diversity and inclusion efforts, the university needs to have ongoing efforts and encourage feedback from students, faculty and staff members.