President Stephen C. Ainlay and a recent Union alumnus were featured on the cover of “Insight Into Diversity” this month after the magazine awarded Union a Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award.
Union was named a recipient of this honor due to its “outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion,” according to the “Insight Into Diversity” website.
This is not the first time Union has been acknowledged for its pledge to inclusion. This award marks the third straight year Union has been recognized by the magazine, which is the oldest diversity-centered magazine in higher education.
Ainlay commented, “All of us at Union can be pleased at receiving a third HEED Award.”
While still predominantly white, Union’s campus has grown more diverse since early 2000.
Since 2006, the percentage of international students has increased from 2 percent to 7 percent, and the percentage of students who come from diverse backgrounds has increased from 12 percent to 20 percent.
One program the college has instated to bring the campus community’s focus to diversity is the Presidential Speaker’s Forum on Diversity. The forum has brought the likes of journalist Soledad O’Brien, Maya Angelou and, very recently, John Quionones.
And just a few months ago, Union hosted transgender actress Laverne Cox.
Cox’s speech, which focused on her life journey of finding her true identity and the importance of acceptance, saw hundreds gathered into Memorial Chapel.
The value Union’s presidents place on acceptance has been seen historically, as well. During the presidency of Eliphalet Nott, Union was known as one of the few major colleges in the nation that was willing to accept students from many different backgrounds.
Ainlay stated, “We must not rest on the progress that’s been made but rather we should use the award to motivate us to do even more.”