The Equity, Access and Diversity Advisory at the University of Nebraska at Kearney is the recipient of the 2021 Inclusive Excellence Collaboration Award, NU System President Ted Carter announced today.
The IECA, one of the President’s Excellence Awards, is the NU system’s most prestigious award honoring achievements in advancing inclusive excellence across the campuses. The award is presented annually to departments or units that have worked together to build a culture of inclusivity and create more equitable outcomes for NU faculty, staff and students. Recipients are chosen by a committee that includes representatives from the four NU campuses as well as community members.
“Being a great university means creating a welcoming, inclusive learning and working environment for every member of our community,” Carter said. “In a few short years, the UNK Equity, Access and Diversity Advisory has grown into a critical player in advancing UNK’s commitment to inclusive excellence. These colleagues are leading important dialogues on campus, they have put new programs in place to better serve the needs of UNK students, faculty and staff, and they are a model for the power of collaboration. The Equity, Access and Diversity Advisory is making UNK a more inclusive place, and I’m honored to celebrate their work.”
Launched in 2015-16 by Chancellor Doug Kristensen, the Equity, Access and Diversity Advisory includes about 33 faculty, staff and students representing each academic college and non-academic division at UNK. The advisory works to nurture an atmosphere of inclusion for all members of the UNK community, with a particular focus on creating a stronger sense of belonging for UNK’s diverse student population in order to improve retention.
The group’s efforts include:
- Launching a campus-wide diversity climate survey in 2017 to gain a clearer sense of UNK’s strengths and opportunities in diversity and inclusion.
- Bringing an unconscious bias training program to UNK administrators, supervisors, department chairs, faculty and staff.
- Developing a “productive dialogue” series to help faculty, staff and students learn how to talk about diversity and inclusion topics that, while critical, can be awkward or uncomfortable. The series was developed in response to one of the needs identified in the 2017 climate survey.
- Developing, in collaboration with the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, “safe zone” training at UNK to help faculty and staff better support diverse students. Employees who complete the training may display a “safe zone” decal in their offices to signal to students that it is a safe place to discuss personal struggles or diversity issues.
- Developing a dialogue series over the past year between students and administrators to help students navigate a challenging period that included the pandemic, economic struggles and racial tensions following the death of George Floyd last summer. Through the dialogue series, UNK leaders engaged with student groups including the Black Student Association, Define America, student government, the Residence Hall Association, Mortar Board and international students to listen to their concerns and provide support.
- Advisory members work with UNK’s enrollment management team on strategies to expand recruitment of diverse students.
IECA winners receive $25,000 to be used for the advancement of diversity, access and inclusion efforts on campus. For example, funds may be used for participation in relevant conferences, diversity curriculum efforts, relevant instructional materials, or for delivery of diversity and inclusion development opportunities like workshops, presentations or seminars.
The UNK Equity, Access and Diversity Advisory will be honored at an event hosted by Carter this spring.