Lehigh joined with colleges and universities across the country in being named a recipient of the 2019 HEED Award, which is bestowed by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in 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—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 their campus.”
The HEED Award acknowledges the progress Lehigh has been making in cultivating a more diverse and inclusive campus community to include expanding access to students from both a broader geographic and socio-economic range, said Donald Outing, Lehigh’s inaugural vice president for equity and community.
“The value proposition of a Lehigh education arises from the balanced educational experience both inside and outside the classroom. Lehigh excels in leadership development and is committed to developing the future leaders of our changing global society,” Outing said. “An essential part of preparing global leaders is a residential education where our students interact with diverse peoples, cultures, ideas and traditions.”
Outing was named to this role in early 2017, following a national search. The former chief diversity officer and director of the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point now heads a division that has grown to include seven direct staffers, as well as the Center for Gender Equity, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Pride Center, Student Access and Success, and the Chaplain’s Office.
Since arriving at Lehigh, Outing has built on a number of initiatives that began in 2015 to make a Lehigh education accessible to a broader spectrum of students. These include a university commitment to meet 100 percent of every student’s demonstrated financial need; participation in the American Talent Initiative (ATI), an alliance between the nation’s top-performing colleges and universities that aims to increase the number of high-achieving, low-income students who graduate from top-tier institutions; and a partnership with the Posse Foundation, which seeks to expand educational opportunities for talented lower- and moderate-income high school students in the Bay Area of California.
These initiatives are part of the Center for Student Access and Success, which was created in late 2017 with the appointment of Professor George White as the first Managing Director for Student Access and Success. White, a longtime professor of educational leadership at Lehigh, was selected to lead the development and implementation of university strategies that address recruitment, admission, financial aid, student life, academic coaching and post-graduate support for students from underserved groups, with a focus on first-generation college students and students from lower-income families.
One such strategy is the university’s partnership with the Mentor Collective, a new program aimed to enhance the student experience. The Mentor Collective at Lehigh supports students in transition to a more academically rigorous, residential university experience by pairing them with trained upper-class students who can help guide them on their path, provide support, link them to resources and offer advice on shared experiences.