For the fifth year in a row, INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine has chosen William & Mary to receive the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award.

The HEED Award is a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. William & Mary will be featured alongside the other 102 recipients in the November 2022 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

“Achieving this honor five years in a row is a testament to the work of many to affirm our values of belonging and respect,” said W&M President Katherine A. Rowe. “While there is always more to be done to create a truly inclusive and equitable community, we celebrate the progress that has been made and draw from this recognition the inspiration to continue to move forward.”

William & Mary was selected based on a variety of projects and initiatives it supported throughout the last year, including the completion and dedication of Hearth: Memorial to the Enslaved, ongoing reconciliation work supported by The Lemon Project and the Bray School initiative, and the launch of a comprehensive training program on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging for faculty, staff and new employees.

“It’s a milestone for us to have won this award five years in a row, especially at the culmination of these large, strategic projects,” said Chief Diversity Officer Chon Glover.

“The university is committed to the work of inclusive excellence, and each year we have accelerated our university-wide efforts. Starting with our senior leadership, everyone has an important role in making this a community that truly values and respects each member for what they contribute to help achieve the mission of the university.”

Comprehensive D&I outlook

The HEED Award is presented based on several factors, including recruitment and retention of students and employees, leadership support for diversity, campus culture and climate, 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,” said Pearlstein. “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.”

In the application for this year’s award, William & Mary highlighted a variety of diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts, from student-centric initiatives to ongoing reconciliation work. Those efforts include, but are not limited to, recruitment of new students with support from the Alumni of Color networks, a new partnership with The Posse Foundation, supplier diversity efforts, the completion of the first year of a new faculty hiring initiative and the increased emphasis on telling the full history of William & Mary by intentionally adding the voices and contributions of Asian Americans and other historically underrepresented groups.

Another effort included in the application was the naming and renaming of buildings approved by the Board of Visitors in 2021. Morton Hall became John E. Boswell Hall, named for an alumnus, recognized scholar and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. The Arcade at Cary Field was named the Arthur A. Matsu Arcade after the university’s first known Asian-American student and William & Mary’s first “true gridiron hero.” Taliaferro Hall became Hulon L. Willis Sr. Hall, named after the first African-American student to enroll at William & Mary. In addition, Tyler Hall reverted to its previous name, Chancellors Hall.

The application also highlighted work on Hearth: Memorial to the Enslaved, which was completed and dedicated on May 7, 2022, during an event that drew over 800 people. The memorial has been the location of several campus gatherings since, including the university’s first in-person Juneteenth celebration.

Optimizing future work

Glover hopes that this year’s HEED award will fuel momentum into the next year as it gears up for several new projects and sets its goals for Vision 2026 and Inclusive Excellence. Additionally, reconciliation efforts will continue to strengthen ties with local tribal communities as the university looks to mark the 300th anniversary of the Brafferton School in 2023.

“We use the HEED award as a benchmark,” Glover said. “We will celebrate it, but we will not rest on our laurels because there is still additional work to do, and we want to elevate our work and continue to evolve forward in an intentional, thoughtful and innovative way.”