Hope Receives National Award for Excellence in Diversity

Hope has received the 2022 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.

As a recipient of the annual HEED Award — a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion — Hope was featured, along with 102 other recipients, in the magazine’s November issue.

Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown, who is vice president for culture and inclusive excellence and a member of the psychology faculty at Hope, credited the honor to ongoing efforts across the campus community.

Phelps Scholars Program students enjoying some fellowship in the new patio space between Phelps Dining Hall and Lubbers Hall.
Phelps Scholars Program students enjoying some fellowship in the new patio space between Phelps Dining Hall and Lubbers Hall.

Living and learning communities that incorporate multicultural perspective like the Phelps Scholars Program, which was the college’s first when it debuted in 1999, are among the initiatives that helped Hope earn the national Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award.

“I believe we were recognized with this award because of the efforts of the Hope College students, faculty and staff who have been engaged in this work and making contributions toward being a place that is faithful, welcoming, and transformational as shared in Hope’s Christian Aspirations,” she said. “We continue to be on the journey together and this recognition for our efforts is an honor and an encouragement. Heartfelt thanks to our students and colleagues!”

Hope describes its Christian identity with three aspirations: to be faithful, to be welcoming and to be transformational. Trent-Brown noted that Hope’s commitment to diversity and inclusion reflects Hope’s commitment to them.

“Hope’s Christian Aspirations say that ‘Hope seeks to be a community that affirms the dignity of all persons as bearers of God’s image,’” she said. “We work together toward Beloved Community, informed first by our faith and through the framework of inclusive excellence at Hope. We recognize and celebrate the value that each person created by God brings from lived experience, we focus on relationship building to foster a sense of belonging, and we strive to communicate that each member of Hope matters and contributes to creating our shared environment.” INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine selects the HEED Award recipients based on its review of several criteria that together demonstrate a holistic commitment to diversity.

“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 — leadership support for diversity, campus culture and climate, supplier diversity, and many 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.”

Included among the many factors contributing to Hope being recognized for the award were the engagement and representation of leaders across campus; new retention and recruitment efforts; new alumni-engagement efforts; new positions focused on multicultural recruitment, and culture and inclusive excellence; academically-themed programs that incorporate intercultural perspectives, such as the Phelps Scholars Program and the Emmaus Scholars Program; the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) and Hope’s multicultural student organizations (MSOs); individual unit participation in goal-setting; the efforts of Hope’s Racial Equity Steering Committee (RESC), and the work of the Board of Trustees. Also highlighted was Hope’s involvement with nationally recognized initiatives such as the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers and the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC).