UNCG awarded for excellence in diversity

Posted on September 20, 2021

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Students sitting on benches around Minerva statue

For the fourth consecutive year, UNC Greensboro has received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. 

The national honor recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. UNCG is among 101 institutions across the nation, and is one of just two UNC System institutions to receive the award. 

UNCG is a minority-serving institution, and approximately 50% of students are people of color. In addition, the University has made a concerted effort to diversify its faculty. From 2015 to 2020, the number of Black faculty members has nearly doubled, the number of Hispanic faculty members rose about 50%, and the number of Asian faculty members increased by about 25%. 

The University has focused its equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts in three primary areas: social justice, campus climate, and student success.  

Social justice 

To intentionally address racism and the need for social justice, UNCG has created a racial equity website, which serves as a launching pad for Spartans, community members, and prospective students and families to learn more about the University’s commitment to racial equity. The website features resources for learning, upcoming events, and news.

Students, faculty, and campus partners continue to lead their peers and community in anti-racism and anti-bias action and education through research, projects, and scholarship.

UNCG’s University Libraries launched the Triad Black Lives Matter Protest Collection last year, which works to document the Black Lives Matter movement, police brutality protests, and race relations in the Triad region of North Carolina. The department also recently launched  “Unsung Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement Project” featuring video interviews with activists whose work, while not always recognized, had profound impacts on the civil rights movement and helped set the stage for today’s Black Lives Matter movement.

A five-year, $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration will further UNCG’s clinical psychology program’s work helping the underserved. The grant aims to recruit, retain, and support the training of clinical psychologists from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds to enter primary care settings and medically underserved communities.

Students and faculty like Dr. Jocelyn R. Smith Lee of the human development and family studies department are addressing social justice through scholarship and research. Smith Lee’s Centering Black Voices lab explores the unequal burdens of trauma and grief in the lives of young Black men.

This year, numerous iBelong student grant recipients will be spearheading anti-racism and anti-bias discussions and research, building a deeper sense of community and connection on campus.

The Weatherspoon Art Museum continues to take huge strides in its equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts. Recently, the museum received a grant to partner with university, civic, museum, and other community entities in a meaningful effort to reconsider, reinterpret, and re-present its  forthcoming three-year project, Leading with Objects: Engaging the Community in Institutional Change. The museum will also collaborate on anti-racist project models and practices as part of the Museum Partnerships for Social Justice Project, a recently announced initiative of the Henry Luce Foundation’s American Art Program. 

Campus climate

The Chancellor’s Fellows for Campus Climate have developed an equity, diversity, and inclusion action framework and actionable goals for UNCG’s campus to address racial inequality and promote equity, diversity, and inclusion for all individuals and groups that are marginalized. 

Additionally, faculty have launched a series of mentorship, success, and leadership development processes to further the University’s commitment to diversity education and training as well as to recruit more diverse faculty.

UNCG Cares, a Division of Student Affairs initiative, promotes a Culture of Care in the UNCG community by instilling care and support. UNCG Cares includes a network of campus resources, from diversity initiatives like Safe Zone and Trans Zone to health and wellness programs such as the Spartans in Recovery ProgramIn fall of 2019, UNCG launched its “Spartan Essentials” initiative, part of UNCG Cares, to address food insecurity, as well as housing insecurity, among students. 

The Office of Intercultural Engagement also offers a variety of resources, workshops, and training, including Bystander Intervention Training and a series of community dialogues for students to build relationships across different cultures and discuss topics related to diversity and inclusion affecting the campus community.

UNCG’s Spartan Open Pantry (SOP), an on-campus food pantry for students and staff with food insecurity, has continued to meet the increased need this spring and summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the SOP, the Dean of Students Office provides emergency meals for students. 

Student success

UNCG has a long history of providing access and opportunity to students from disadvantaged backgrounds and continues to stand out as a leader in student success. Not only is UNCG one of the most diverse institutions in the state, over 36% of students are first-generation college students, and nearly half of its students are Pell Grant eligible. 

UNCG’s Division of Student Success offers a variety of programs and initiatives aimed at helping students from all backgrounds realize their fullest academic and professional potential. 

The Student Support Services TRiO program is designed to maximize academic performance for UNCG students who are first-generation students from modest income backgrounds, or who have a documented disability and demonstrate an academic need for services. Services include individual instruction in the development of academic skills; personalized academic counseling, financial aid literacy counseling, graduate/professional school guidance, and career coaching; and one-on-one tutoring in up to two courses each semester. Recently, the TRiO program was awarded multiple million-dollar grants to support students from low-income, first-generation, or under-represented minority backgrounds, as well as students with disabilities.

UNCG’s McNair Scholars Program prepares undergraduate first-generation students from low-income backgrounds and students who are members of groups that are traditionally underrepresented in graduate studies for the pursuit of doctoral degrees. 

As UNCG’s flagship student success program, the Guarantee Scholars Program provides its participants a financial aid package that minimizes student debt, community learning experiences outside of the classroom, and personalized support though mentorship. This program works alongside its students to identify barriers to student success and develop innovative community-focused solutions.

UNCG also continues to excel in recruiting Latinx students, many of whom are first-generation college students, through its CHANCE program. The college-immersion experience encourages Latinx students to pursue higher education by demonstrating that it is accessible to them. More than 10% of the student population is Latinx.

Photography by Grant Evan Gilliard, University Communications, taken in 2019


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