PSU receives top diversity honor for second consecutive year

Students at the Cultural Resource Centers’ Multicultural Graduation
Students at the Cultural Resource Centers' Multicultural Graduation (Credit: Patric Simon)

For the second year in a row, 51Ʒ has received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. The award recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“This recognition is a testament to the great work we are doing and I hope adds a little extra motivation to stay the course and be who we can be, should be, and need to be, for our students, colleagues and communities in this space,” said Ame Lambert, vice president for Global Diversity and Inclusion.

Lambert said PSU is leaning into its present and future as a majority-BIPOC student institution. In 2022, PSU became an emerging Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), and this fall, received a five-year grant under its Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI) designation, now making it a federally funded Minority Serving Institution.

Highlights of PSU’s efforts recognized by this award include:

  • Initiatives such as the TRIO Summer Bridge, Multicultural Retention Connect, Summer Scholars, Finish Mile and Return to PSU to help ensure students of color transition well to PSU and return if they happen to stop out;
  • Expanded programming for communities with the lowest retention rates, including support for a Men of Color initiative and high-impact practices like diasporic/heritage trips and career experiences; 
  • More intentional recruitment efforts, including hosting several BIPOC youth leadership events on campus, boosting bilingual Spanish resources and support and partnering with BIPOC community organizations;
  • A variety of affinity-based resource centers to provide culturally responsive and centered support to our diverse student community including the new DREAMer and Middle East, North Africa, South Asia Student Center (MENASA) centers;
  • New infrastructure, policies and practices for contracting and capital projects to support access for minoritized and smaller businesses;
  • A restructuring of the Tuition-Free Degree remission program to increase access and flexibility to funding for PSU’s diverse student population; 
  • Working with faculty groups to reduce equity gaps in large gateway courses; 
  • Meetings with faculty of color and employee of color socials  to connect them with tenured BIPOC faculty and university administrators to provide a candid lens on their challenges as well as opportunities for better support; and 
  • Curricular innovations and authentic, trusting, reciprocal engagement with BIPOC communities by faculty and staff.

“PSU’s diversity is one of its greatest strengths,” said President Ann Cudd. “We are honored to be recognized for our efforts to promote belonging among all of our campus communities. As the most diverse public university in Oregon, we take seriously our role as a place that nurtures the talent that will help the state’s future industries thrive.”

PSU is one of just three institutions recognized in the Pacific Northwest and will be featured with 107 other HEED Award recipients from across the U.S. in the November/December 2023 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity.

The award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application related to the recruitment and retention of students and employees, leadership support for diversity, and campus culture and climate.

“Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campus,” publisher Lenore Pearlstein said.