The Daily Gamecock

USC wins diversity award for seventh year

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For the seventh consecutive year, USC received the INSIGHT into Diversity Higher Education Excellence into Diversity (HEED) Award. This national award honors individual institutions for work towards making diversity and inclusion a top priority across their campus. 

INSIGHT into Diversity Magazine is a publication that covers diversity issues across the nation for higher education. In 2011, the magazine created its first award to recognize the work of higher education institutions in creating more inclusive campuses. The application measures all aspects of campus diversity and inclusion, and it looks at the broad scope of programming that is offered at each university.

Of the 350 applicants who applied for the award, only 96 received it. USC first applied for the award in 2011 and has received the award every year since. 

John Dozier, USC's chief diversity officer and senior associate provost for inclusion, said he was excited to see the school recognized for its work on diversity and inclusion efforts that focus on embodying the Carolinian Creed. 

“I have not been able to find any other [awards] that acknowledge the work of an entire institution in promoting and creating a more inclusive campus environment,” said Dozier. “So, this award is very special in that way, which is all the reason why we’re so excited about being a recipient of it for the past seven years.”

Dozier said the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at USC works closely with students, faculty and staff to provide an inclusive learning, living and working environment where every member of the community feels supported. 

“The diversity mission is centered on how do we help students to think about these things prior to them getting out into the workforce,” said Dozier. “Diversity and inclusion is truly about how we create better communities and leveraging the assets of everyone in our communities in ways that we can make it better. And again, I think that is at the core of what we’re doing here in this office and what we’re doing relative to diversity and inclusion at the university.” 

He added that he thinks the string of awards represents the work of students to promote diversity in their own leadership. 

“I think about the arc of history for the University of South Carolina, I mean we have consistently elected student body presidents who well represent our campus community,” said Dozier. “That didn’t happen because administration suggested to students that this should happen. It happened quite naturally out of our students.” 

The HEED award centers on student voice and takes into account what is being done to make sure every student is heard. 

Lyric Swinton, a third-year sports and entertainment management student, is secretary of inclusion and equity for Student Government's executive cabinet. She said much of her work focuses on making sure students are aware of the resources available to them on campus. 

“I try to be really visible in all things ... I really want to increase visibility to students, especially on the multicultural side,” said Swinton. “You want people to know that you’re genuine, you’re here to help and you genuinely care.” 

Swinton cited the diversity and inclusion advisory committee as one of the ways faculty, staff and students are able to work directly with the university president to review diversity and inclusion as a whole at the university. 

“We are an institution, we are an organization whose mission is centered on teaching, learning, research, scholarship and community engagement,” said Dozier. “That’s what we do. And at its core, then, is making sure we are developing tomorrow’s leaders. Tomorrow’s leaders in communities and work spaces that are increasingly diverse and global.”