Harper College has been awarded the 2023 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity
(HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.
As a recipient of the annual HEED Award – a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges
and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion
– Harper will be featured, along with 108 other recipients, in the November/December
2023 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. This is the third time Harper has been named a HEED Award recipient.
“We are honored to receive this national recognition for Harper College’s student-centered
focus on diversity, equity and inclusion along with the evidence-based initiatives
we’ve implemented to improve our practices and our institutional culture,” said Dr.
Avis Proctor, Harper’s president. “As we accept this award, the college celebrates
Harper employees’ diligent efforts to improve progress for our students. This recognition
motivates us to embrace the journey ahead as we continue striving to advance equitable
student success outcomes at Harper and beyond.”
INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine selected Harper for the HEED Award based on a long list of criteria used
to measure an institution’s level of achievement and intensity of commitment related
to broadening diversity and inclusion on campus. As a majority-minority institution,
Harper established its Three Pillars of Equity – including removing barriers, closing
equity gaps and executing focused solutions – while including data-informed equity
goals in the college’s strategic plan. Harper’s “5-10-20” initiative seeks to create
a 5% increase in credentials conferred, 10% increase in graduation rate and 20% reduction
in equity gaps by 2024. Three years into the plan, Harper has made significant headway.
Under Dr. Proctor’s leadership, Harper hired its first vice president of diversity,
equity and inclusion (DEI), Dr. Tamara Johnson, in 2021 and created the new Office of DEI that includes four additional full-time positions. Dr. Johnson and the Office of
DEI opened Harper’s Cultural Center – a vibrant and safe space that welcomes students, employees and community members
to participate in a variety of educational programming, events and training. The office
has established GLIDE (Guiding Learners to Intentionally Develop Efficacy), a mentorship program focused on the success of Black and Latinx students, the JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) Faculty Fellows program, which affords current faculty to gain administrative experience in areas
of DEI, and the LEAD (Leveraging Equity in Academia through Diversity) Faculty Fellowship, which supports Harper’s goals to increase faculty diversity.
“I am very excited that Harper has earned the HEED Award for our diversity and inclusion
efforts, which reflect the collective work across all areas of the college,” Dr. Johnson
said. “This award acknowledges our intentional focus on DEI while also inspiring us
to continue working to address our equity gaps. As a college, we must remain dedicated
to transforming our systems and policies at Harper to ensure that all members of our
community succeed and thrive here.”
Harper’s DEI work also includes the 5-year-old Social Justice Leadership Certificate program for employees to the newly established Social Justice Studies Distinction for students, which saw its first graduate in 2023. Meanwhile, Harper has increased
representation among its employees. From 2017 to 2021, the number of Black employees
increased by 8% and the number of Latinx employees increased by 12%.
“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 – leadership support for diversity, campus culture and
climate, supplier diversity, and many other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,”
said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversitymagazine. “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
Harper College is one of six community colleges nationwide to receive the 2023 HEED
Award, joining Moraine Valley Community College as the only Illinois community college
honorees. Other Illinois recipients include Northern Illinois University, Southern
Illinois University Edwardsville, Northwestern University and Augustana College.
For more information about the 2023 HEED Award, visit insightintodiversity.com.