Moraine Valley is one of just six community colleges in the country to receive a 2023 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. The award recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“This award means we are a school that is really special, and we can be proud of that. It recognizes we have an obligation to continue to be that. We are an innovator. We are a leader in this work, and we are doing it together. It’s not just one person, one department,” said Rory Smith, executive director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Moraine Valley.

The HEED Award selection process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees; demographic information of faculty, staff and students; leadership support for diversity; campus culture and climate; supplier diversity; and many other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion.

“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,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of the magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.

Moraine Valley has received several HEED awards throughout the last 13 years and was in the inaugural group to receive the award when it was first presented in 2012. Since then, DEI work at the college has ramped up, evidenced by diversity, equity and inclusion being added to its list of core values, the creation of the Equity Academy, new articulation agreements with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic-Serving Institutions and the creation of Smith’s position, among other initiatives.

“We really do meet our students where they are as opposed to expecting our students to meet us where we are. It’s a different dynamic, and it shows up in the success our students have,” Smith said. “The work we’ve done isn’t just a new thing. It’s something we’ve been leaning into for a long time. We’re living our best practices, and it shows.”


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