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Harper College awarded INSIGHT Into Diversity 2023 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award

HEED Award Logo for Excellence in DiversityHarper 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 their campus.”

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.

Last Updated: 3/14/24