UWF receives 7th national excellence in diversity award
The University of West Florida has been awarded the 2022 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity, or HEED, Award from INSIGHT into Diversity magazine for the fifth consecutive year and seventh time overall.
“UWF is committed to promoting a culture of inclusive excellence on campus and in our greater community,” said UWF President Martha D. Saunders. “We are honored that our efforts to make UWF a welcoming environment for all have been recognized with the HEED award for another year.”
The HEED Award recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. UWF will be featured alongside 102 other HEED Award recipients in the October 2022 issue of INSIGHT into Diversity magazine.
“UWF is home to nearly 14,000 students from a very wide variety of backgrounds,” said Dr. Greg Tomso, vice president for the Division of Academic Engagement and Student Affairs and chief diversity officer. “We are proud to welcome veterans, active-duty military, international students from more than 90 countries, students with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, sexual and gender minorities, and many others. We provide numerous academic and leadership programs that focus on the value of civility, free speech and genuine dialogue. We may not always agree with one another, but we do know how to get along. I think that’s a core strength of the UWF community.”
UWF promotes and celebrates inclusion year-round through sustainable programming, training opportunities and awareness initiatives. Two University initiatives recognized by HEED are the Inside-Out Prison Exchange course and the Sexuality and Gender Resource Center.
In Spring 2022, UWF had the first cohort of students enrolled in the Inside-Out Prison Exchange course, which addresses the creation of social justice policy and its impacts on society. The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program® is an international initiative that encourages dialogue and education among incarcerated individuals and university students. UWF currently offers the first and only course in the region.
UWF’s Sexuality and Gender Resource Center fosters and promotes equity, access and inclusion for all genders and sexualities through education, resources, support and programming. This is accomplished through education and awareness programs, campus and community outreach and trainings, the Queer Peer Mentoring program — launching Spring 2023 — as well as other initiatives.
“The wonderful initiatives taking place throughout UWF and into the community are essential to diversity, inclusion and engagement progress,” Dr. Vannee Cao-Nguyen, deputy chief diversity officer and associate vice president for the Division Academic Engagement and Student Affairs, said. “The HEED award celebrates all UWF students, faculty and staff who have made inclusion and engagement a priority. None of it would be possible without them.”