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WSSU receives national HEED Award for diversity

Students walk through the historic archways during Ramdition
WSSU freshmen walk through the historic arches as part of the Through the Archways ceremony. (August 2018)

Winston-Salem State University’s (WSSU) has been recognized with the 2018 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

WSSU is the only historically Black college and university (HBCU) to win the award, and one of only 96 recipients nationwide. WSSU will be featured in the November 2018 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. 

“We are honored to be selected for this prestigious award, which is testament to the work our dedicated faculty and staff do every day to provide a welcoming environment for all Rams,” said Elwood L. Robinson, WSSU’s chancellor. “This award also affirms the success of the strategic plan, which is rooted in the principle of equity, providing the support needed for all our students to be successful.”

According to the magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education, WSSU was selected for its exemplary diversity and inclusion initiatives and for embracing a broad concept of diversity on campus, including gender, ethnicity, veterans, people with disabilities and members of the LGBT community. The award was announced on Sept. 13.

Logo - INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award 2018 Top Colleges for Diversity

Over the past year, WSSU has:

  • Rolled out more than a dozen new technologies to help improve retention and graduation rates, and to help students, faculty and staff work smarter. This includes Winston – a text-based artificial intelligence virtual assist, a first at an HBCU – and RAMGuide a mobile advisor.
  • Expanded scholarship and funding support for students who need assistance that cannot be provided through financial aid.
  • Provided a path for qualified WSSU students to continue their education through assurance agreements in the School of Health Sciences' highly-ranked Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program and signature graduate programs in physical therapy and occupational therapy.
  • Developed and launched a weeklong series of Title IX student workshops and events under the theme “Netflix & Chill: Ram Conversations About Consent.”
  • Introduced five new study abroad partnership programs to expose students to global perspectives. This includes a signature Afro-Cuban program.
  • Through $2.4 million federal grant funding, began offering scholarships for African Americans and low-income students in six STEM and allied health graduate programs. The grant funded 38 graduate student fellowships during the spring semester. 
  • Assisted additional faculty through a revamped Center for Innovative and Transformative Instruction (CITI). During the 2017-18 academic year, CITI hired two additional staff to support teaching, learning, and instructional technology and launched a new website, e-newsletter and blog.

The HEED Award process includes a comprehensive application with questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees, continued leadership support for diversity and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion, according to Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

“We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a HEED Award recipient,” Pearlstein said. “Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being accomplished every day across their campus.”

WSSU is one of six University of North Carolina System institutions to win the 2018 HEED Award. Other North Carolina recipients are: East Carolina University, UNC Greensboro, UNC-Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University and UNC Wilmington.

About Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University fosters the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Founded in 1892, WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment.

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