Marshall recognized for efforts in promoting diversity, inclusion

Marshall University has been selected as a winner of the first 2012 INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award, according to the December 2012 issue of the magazine. Marshall is one of 48 recipients featured in the issue.

HEED is a national award honoring U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity, said Marshall met or exceeded the parameters and guidelines set by a panel of judges in earning “the first ever national award for colleges, universities and school systems that exhibit outstanding efforts and success in the area of diversity and inclusion among the entire community of students, faculty, staff and vendors.”

“We hope the HEED award serves as a reminder that diversity and inclusion must remain priorities in the 21st century higher education landscape,” Pearlstein said. “Every college and university should recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion as being part of their everyday life on campus. Our students of today are the employees of tomorrow and the future of our country. As students begin to enter the workforce and a global society, they must first be surrounded by and supported by faculty and staff that understand the differences among cultures and their needs.”

Potomac Publishing, Inc., publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, evaluated applications from colleges and universities throughout the United States in order to measure their level of success in regard to diversity and inclusion. The winners, including Marshall but listed in no particular order, are published in the December issue.

“There is no ranking,” said Holly Mendelson, also an INSIGHT publisher. “The needs of each school are so different. What’s right for one campus may be completely different than what’s right for somebody else.”

Mendelson said the judges were very impressed with Marshall’s efforts to encourage diversity and inclusion and the success it has had in doing so. The vision of Marshall’s Division of Multicultural Affairs is, in part, “to provide leadership, support and advocacy for diverse populations, historically underrepresented individuals and groups.”

“Marshall has really done an outstanding job,” Mendelson said. “We had all kinds of schools apply and we really asked for a lot of information, which Shari (Clarke) provided to us. Marshall should feel good about what they are doing.”

Dr. Shari Clarke is the vice president for multicultural affairs.

“This award is recognition and affirmation of a broad range of accomplishments,” Clarke said. “It’s nice to be recognized for what we do. We really focus on creating a climate of inclusion and diversity. We are very proud and honored to receive this award.”

President Stephen J. Kopp praised Clarke and her staff for their “expert contributions to our advancement of diversity not only at Marshall, but across the Higher Education landscape.”

“She is supported by passionate students, faculty and staff who share our vision for a diverse, inclusive and multicultural Marshall University community that fosters, encourages and enriches opportunities for personal and intellectual growth for all,” Kopp said.

Marshall excels in many areas regarding diversity and inclusiveness, Mendelson said. She cited some examples:

“Marshall has a lot of veterans in the student population,” she said. “They’re doing a good job of providing students with a world of opportunity with their study abroad programs. They take care of people with disabilities and they have top-notch facilities. Marshall strives to insure that its school represents growing diversity reflective of the state.”

Mendelson said Marshall also excels in the way it reaches out to the community with events such as Outstanding Black High School Students Weekend. “There’s a tremendous effort there,” she said. “And their Multicultural Leadership Ambassador Program is definitely something unique.”

Clarke has instituted many new programs since coming to Marshall four years ago. She said she is most proud of the Multicultural Faculty in Residence Program, the faculty exchange program between Marshall and Alcorn State University, the Ivy Academy (leadership conference for 8th-12th-grade girls) and the Multicultural Leadership Ambassador Program.

“They’ve educated over 5,000 individuals since 2009,” she said of the ambassadors.

Kopp said he appreciates and admires the efforts of Marshall University’s Multicultural Ambassadors.

“They are a group of diverse young men and women who strive, on their own time, to break down stereotypes and confront bias and prejudices of all kinds,” Kopp said. “They perform this calling through thoughtful communication and one-on-one interactions. They are brave. They are impressive. They are inspiring. Quite simply, they enrich our entire community.”