Tuesday, September 16, 2014

College district wins national diversity award

The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Tuesday received the 2014 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award, a national honor recognizing colleges and universities for outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

It is the only community college district in the state and locally, joins San Diego State University and California State University, San Marcos, in its recognition from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest diversity-focused publication in higher education.  The district will be will be featured along with 82 other recipients across the nation in the magazine’s November 2014 issue. 

“With our diverse student and campus populations representing San Diego County’s rich mix of cultures and communities, our district places great importance in providing a welcoming environment to everyone,” Chancellor Cindy L. Miles said. “We are delighted that our efforts have been recognized with this welcome award.”

The magazine selected the district based on its diversity and inclusion initiatives relating to gender, race, ethnicity, veterans, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBT community.

Among other things, the district was recognized for its efforts to improve graduation rates among students from under-represented groups with services provided by both Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges’ Extended Opportunity Programs and Services departments. EOPS is a program committed to community college access and retention for economically and educationally disadvantaged students.

Other efforts include:

  • The district’s implementation in 2013 of its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council Strategic Plan. The multifaceted plan was created to ensure an environment fostering cultural competence, equity and respect for all employees and students. The council and site committees have led the district’s efforts to look at diversity data, seeking ways to increase employee diversity and to make the campuses more welcoming to everyone. 
  • The designation of “Safe Space” areas for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, and establishing gender-neutral restrooms.

  • Cuyamaca College’s Diversity Dialogues, a workshop series offered each semester focusing on diversity and social-justice topics. Students who attend three or more workshops receive a Diversity and Leadership certificate that can be used toward a similar certificate offered by SDSU.
  • Grossmont College’s many diversity events sponsored by the campus’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee and groups such as the World Arts and Culture Committee. Past events include a showing and discussion about a documentary on hate groups, a Chinese cultural fair and more.
  • The selection of the district in 2011 as one of eight institutions of higher education to participate in the American Council on Education’s At Home in the World initiative, a program to aid institutions in developing ways to promote diversity/multicultural education.
“We hope the HEED award serves as a way to honor those institutions of higher education that recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion as part of their everyday campus culture,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.