UHD Recognized for Excellence in Diversity
University Receives INSIGHT Into Diversity's HEED Award
By Mike Emery
Diversity makes a difference on college campuses. It not only enhances students’ educational experiences but supports their personal and professional growth within an increasingly global society.
It is also a factor that is enticing more Houstonians to select the University of Houston-Downtown as their University of choice.
UHD’s commitment to preserving an environment of diversity, equity, inclusivity and justice has long been lauded by its campus community. Likewise, higher education professionals around the globe have taken note of its efforts to welcome and support all who enter its doors. Among those experts acknowledging UHD is the editorial team at INSIGHT Into Diversity. For the third consecutive year, the national publication has been awarded the 2021 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award to UHD.
The University is among a who’s who of esteemed universities receiving this honor and will be included in the November 2021 edition of INSIGHT Into Higher Education.
“The HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees — and best practices for both — as well as continued leadership support for diversity and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion," said 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. Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across campus.”
UHD is a federally designated Hispanic Serving University and Minority Serving University. More than 50 percent of the University’s students identify as Hispanic or Latinx while Black students comprise the University’s second largest learning population.
UHD President Loren J. Blanchard recently addressed this campus diversity while interviewed on KPRC’s Houston Newsmakers.
“We’re the most diverse University in the south,” he said. “With this diversity, we have the opportunity to be as inclusive as well. It’s one thing to be diverse, but we must work to make sure that our students, our faculty and our staff know that they belong … they are valued … and they are supported. That’s one of the hallmarks of what we do.”
Under Blanchard’s leadership, the University recently hosted retreats for faculty and staff addressing themes of diversity, equity and inclusion (or DEI). National experts on these very topics provided valuable insights on how DEI relates to academia and our everyday lives.
Beyond these employee-focused events, long-running programs across the University’s five colleges complement UHD’s diverse student body by providing scholarly activities, experiential learning opportunities and other initiatives focused on race, gender, identity, faith and LGBTQIA issues. These include UHD’s Center for Diversity & inclusion, the College of Humanities & Social Sciences’ Center for Critical Race Studies and Center for Latino Studies, the College of Public Service’s Lab for Equity in Action, and the College of Sciences & Technology’s SynergIE Program among many others.
Additional programs prepare students for leadership roles and critical careers within our community. These include the Men of L.E.G.A.C.I. program (focused on increasing retention and graduation rates of underrepresented male students), Call Me MISTER (addressing the need for more male teachers of color); Latinas Achieve (a mentorship program within the Center for Latino Studies aimed at empowering Latina students) and Camino a la Universidad (supporting young Latinas on the road toward higher education).
Additionally, a number of student organizations provide Gators with hands-on experiences supporting their communities while developing their professional skills. The UHD chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants (based within the Marilyn Davies College of Business), for example, played a key role in supporting Houstonians filing their tax returns during the past year. This project and others helped the organization earn “Houston Chapter of the Year” honors.
The 2021 HEED award is yet further recognition of UHD’s status as an example for diversity in higher education. Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal/TIMES Higher Education, which cited UHD as the most diverse university in the region.
“This HEED award is clear evidence of the university commitment to inclusive excellence,” said Dr. Vida Robertson, Director of UHD’s Center for Critical Race Studies. “While all institutions of higher education are committed to student learning and success, UHD has again demonstrated that it is committed to the deep learning and sustained success of minoritized communities. Our mission at UHD is to do what few dare to dream—reverse the longstanding institutional and economic oppression of our region’s marginalized populations and accelerate their success within the academy and beyond.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.