TU receives national Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for third straight year

By Teri O'Neal & Kyle Hobstetter on September 15, 2022

Award again recognizes TU's commitment to inclusive excellence

University Union Tiger Statue

Towson University has received the 2022 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine for the third straight year.

The application was completed by Patricia Bradley, vice president of Inclusion and Institutional Equity and her team in the Office of Inclusion and Institutional Equity. Bradley says that getting the award is an honor but comments that there is more work to be done in promoting DEI in higher education.

"While we are honored to have achieved the HEED Award for a third year, we understand that this work was long overdue," said Bradley. "We have for too long witnessed centuries of systemic racism and inequitable treatment based on who you are in this country. It is our hope that one day every university, private or public, will join us on this list. Prioritizing diversity and inclusion should be intrinsic in everything that we do."

TU is one of only two universities in Maryland to achieve this recognition and one of 104 honorees across the country. The HEED Award is the only national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities for demonstrating an “outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion across their campus,” according to the publication.

The university’s growing diversity is a reflection on the state’s growth. According to the United States Census, more than half of the Maryland population identifies as a racial or ethnic minority, making it one of the first minority–majority states on the East Coast.

With over 54% of all students identifying as a racial or ethnic minority, TU now identifies as a minority-majority student population. The institution also enrolls the second-largest population of minority students in the state of Maryland.

"To receive three consecutive HEED recognitions is a tremendous testimony to the Towson University community’s relentless commitment to pre-eminence in diversity, equity and inclusion. We know this work is never done," said President Kim Schatzel. "We are all proud to be a major anchor institution for our state and a recognized national leader in DEI."

The HEED Award applications cover all aspects of campus diversity and inclusion. One of the goals of the process is to help institutions assess their diversity efforts to build on their success and improve where necessary.

Each HEED Award recipient highlighted two major accomplishments over the past year to be featured in the November issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine:

BTU in the Office of Partnerships and Outreach partnered with the Office of Inclusion & Institutional Equity on developing a series of events that centered on racial equity through the lens of local communities and context. All events incorporate presentations by Dr. Lawrence Brown and his book The Black Butterfly: The Harmful Politics of Race and Place in America. Dr. Brown gave a virtual keynote, met with university leaders, and conducted workshops with the BTU Council.

OIIE supports faculty and staff affinity groups designed to support the personal and professional growth of TU employees while cultivating community and recently helped launch the Disability & Neurodiversity Faculty & Staff Association, bringing the total number of affinity groups to seven.

Continued Inclusive Excellence

Earning a third-straight Heed award is the just another step in Towson University promoting inclusion on campus.

This past summer, TU was named to the Best of the Best List, a top-40 ranking of LGBTQ+-friendly colleges and universities by Campus Pride Aug. 24. TU was the only higher education institution in Maryland and D.C. named to the list

Last year, TU—for the first time—earned a perfect, five-star rating from the organization. To earn a five-star ranking, campuses must score from 90 to 100% based on their LGBTQ+-inclusive policies, programs and practices. The methodology to determine this year’s list was based on an overall score of 93% or higher.

This past spring, the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) placed Towson University among the top 9% worldwide in its 2022–23 World University Rankings, after conducting an assessment of over 20,000 institutions worldwide.

And the 2022 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings placed TU No. 30 globally and top among U.S. institutions in gender equality. 

Released April 27, the Impact Rankings measure higher education institutions around the globe against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition to gender equality, TU also earned high marks in categories for sustainability and conservation.

“These recognitions are a major point of pride as it is a testament to TU’s ongoing commitment to being a campus community where everyone can flourish,” says Vernon Hurte, vice president of Student Affairs. “These awards should also inspire us to continue the work towards being a more fully inclusive university.”

Along with the work being done across different departments in the university, the Student Government Association is also stepping up to help promote diversity, inclusion and equity. 

Current SGA President Jordan Colquitt and his staff recently introduced a First Generation, Low-Income Student Representative within the executive cabinet to help students from these backgrounds adjust to college. 

"As SGA president, it’s such a great feeling to represent a university with a strong commitment to helping every student thrive," Colquitt says. "The work that Towson puts into ensuring that all students are welcomed here with the tools necessary to succeed will continue to attract a diverse and bright pool of applicants. I have no doubt that these students will be valued and supported here at TU." 

A More Inclusive TU: Advancing Equity and Diversity. Read the new diversity strategic plan for TU. 

The Diversity Strategic Plan