WMU student program recognized by national diversity magazine

Contact: Deanne Puca

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's Martin Luther King Jr. Student Scholars Academy received acclaim from a national diversity magazine.

WMU was one of 93 institutions from around the nation named an annual Higher Education Excellence in Diversity—HEED—honoree by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. WMU has been honored by the publication each year since 2013. Diversity and inclusion efforts underway at the University helped it earn recognition for the seventh year in a row from the national publication that focuses on diversity in higher education.

"We are honored that Western Michigan University has been named a Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award winner for the seventh year in a row," said WMU President Edward Montgomery. "We recognize that diversity is our strength and this distinction is a testament to our commitment to building broader diversity within our student body and across our faculty ranks. While we graciously accept this accolade from INSIGHT into Diversity, we know that we have more work to do and we will continue to make strides in enhancing inclusivity and engagement across our campus."

One of the University's longest-running programs designed to promote student success, the MLK Academy began in 1968 to support African-American students attending WMU. It has continued for more than 50 years and now has broadened its focus to assist first-generation students with economically and academically disadvantaged backgrounds. The MLK Academy provides academic, social and professional development support for students from the first year of college through graduation. Participants are provided peer coaches to mentor them throughout their college experience. It is facilitated by the University's Division of Multicultural Affairs.

Inclusion efforts are in alignment with and a major focus of WMU's Diversity and Multiculturalism Action Plan that has guided the University's efforts since it was adopted in 2006. The extensive application submitted by WMU for this year's HEED award also included information on:

  • The inclusion of implicit bias training for all faculty search committees to minimize the barriers to diversity and inclusion in WMU's hiring practices
  • Participation in the Equity in Mental Health project in collaboration with national organizations the JED Foundation and the Steve Fund to strengthen programs for marginalized student populations in mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention

The honorees will be featured in the November 2019 issue of the magazine at insightintodiversity.com.

"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."

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.