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WSSU receives national diversity award for second year in a row

WSSU, the only HBCU to receive the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award for 2019, celebrated its first Pride Week in April.

For the second consecutive year, Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) is a recipient of INSIGHT Into Diversity’s Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award in recognition of its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

WSSU is the only historically Black college and university (HBCU) to receive the award this year.

“We are honored to be selected again for this prestigious national award,” said Dr. Elwood L. Robinson, WSSU chancellor. “This is a testament to the work our faculty and staff do every day to provide a welcoming and supportive environment for all Rams 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.

WSSU launched a number of programs and initiatives over the past year that demonstrate this commitment.

For current/prospective students:

Logo: Insight Into Diversity: Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award 2019
  • Implementing new strategies to help male students succeed. As part of the initiative, WSSU held its first Male Empowerment Summit in February. Male students are outnumbered 3:1 on campus.
  • Holding the university’s first Pride Week, which was held in April in partnership with PRISM, a newly formed organization for LGBTQ students and their straight allies, and the Office of Student Life. A second Pride Week is planned in spring 2020.
  • Increasing opportunities for WSSU undergraduates to pursue a graduate degree at WSSU through programs such as the School of Health Sciences’ early assurance agreements and a $2.4 million federal graduate fellowship scholarship grant.
  • Ram Ready, a multichannel communications campaign for incoming freshmen and transfer students that incorporates traditional and digital communications and is enhanced by Winston, a text-message virtual assistant. Ram Ready was enhanced this year with the introduction of a monthly e-newsletter for incoming undergraduate students.
  • Increasing faculty-mentored student research through a record $2.3 million in new National Science Foundation grants in 2018 and also through three new university fellowship programs, which provide stipends for undergraduate and graduate students to conduct research with a faculty mentor.
  • Expanding scholarship support to help even more students succeed. This month, WSSU publicly launched the Million Dollar Match, a $1 million challenge fundraiser for need-based endowed scholarships.
  • Showing support for veterans and military students by recognizing 99-year-old World War II veteran and alumna Elizabeth Barker Johnson at the 2019 Commencement Ceremony.

For faculty and staff:

  • Creating opportunities and providing funding for faculty research and innovation through programs such as the Center for Innovative and Transformative Instruction’s (CITI) faculty fellows, the Center for Design Innovation (CDI) research design studios, and the Center for the Study of Economic Mobility’s faculty research fellows.
  • Launching a three-year initiative to support faculty development and curriculum redesign to strengthen programs in the humanities. The initiative is funded through a $600,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

For the community:

  • Signing new partnership agreements that provide a seamless transfer for North Carolina community college students pursuing an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree to advance their education through a bachelor’s degree from WSSU. This summer, agreements were signed with Davidson County Community College and Forsyth Technical Community College, and additional agreements are planned this fall.
  • Expanding outreach to minority and female-owned businesses. In March, more than 90 firms participated in an expo hosted by the Division of Finance and Administration. The expo included sessions on doing business with the state of North Carolina and a match-making session with firms meeting directly with WSSU employees.
  • Creating opportunities to expose area elementary, middle- and high school students to STEM careers. In July, GEMS (Girls Empowered in Math and Science) offered a special 10th anniversary two-week camp for 25 girls that was funded through a grant from the North Carolina Department of Transportation. This fall, through a $400,000 federal grant, WSSU will launch a two-year exploratory project that will create a sustained program to raise STEM career awareness among third-, fourth and fifth-graders at two area elementary schools.

“The HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees — and best practices for both — continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” said 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. 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.”

WSSU will be featured in the November issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. The recipients were announced on Sept. 18.

WSSU is one of 94 recipients nationwide and one of four North Carolina winners. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, East Carolina University and North Carolina State University also received the award.

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.

Members of WSSU's ROTC recognize Elizabeth Barker Johnson '49, a 99-year-old World War II veteran, during a news conference held prior to the Commencement Ceremony on May 9. Johnson, a retired teacher, was a member of the famed 6888th regiment, the only all-female, African American Women’s Army Corps battalion to serve overseas during World War II.

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