EastBay Today

Posted September 6, 2017

Cal State East Bay’s Diversity, Inclusion Efforts Honored

The university has won its fourth straight HEED award

At Cal State East Bay, diversity and inclusion isn’t just a talking point — it’s a pillar of the university, a commitment of nearly every program, activity and classroom on campus. 

And this month, for the fourth year in a row, the university has received INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award. The HEED award is the only national recognition honoring colleges and universities that exhibit outstanding efforts and success in the area of diversity and inclusion.

“Diversity is essential to our academic excellence at Cal State East Bay,” President Leroy M. Morishita said. “We are dedicated to reducing any barriers to success that come from race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, culture, religion, linguistic diversity, ability, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, geographical region, personality, learning styles, life experiences and other human characteristics.” 

According to Dr. Dianne Rush Woods, Cal State East Bay’s university diversity officer, the university has long celebrated its diverse student population, but has recently pushed to also create opportunities for those students who need it to receive more academic support. She says that shift toward “practicing what we preach” sets Cal State East Bay apart from other universities.

“We’ve always been supportive of diversity and inclusion efforts, but now there are more programs and lots of focus on student success for our diverse populations,” Woods said. “We try new things, we’re willing to take risks and develop new programs.”

For example, in 2014-15 school year, Cal State East Bay established Sankofa, an Afrocentric program to support transfer students, and Kaleidoscope, a mentoring program for first year and transfer students. Gaining Access ‘N Academic Success, known on campus as GANAS, is a similar program focused on Latino/a transfer students.

And efforts for more inclusivity on campus have also increased in the past few years. For the past four years, the campus has held a “Week of Inclusive Excellence” with five days of programming directed at addressing contemporary issues, such as first-generation, international, and undocumented student concerns to name a few. Faculty and off-campus speakers have participated in town hall and workshop discussions.   

Over the past year, Cal State East Bay’s Department of Facilities Management changed dozens of single stall men’s and women's restrooms to gender neutral. In addition, the university’s Recreation and Wellness Center offers gender-neutral locker rooms, and student housing has offered gender-inclusive housing since 2011. In 2012, the university added a section about diversity to its Institutional Learning Outcomes, which states that all graduates from Cal State East Bay should be able to “apply knowledge of diversity and multicultural competencies to promote equity and social justice in our communities.” 

And Woods said that the colleges have been involved in broadening their faculty search process to ensure that there are more women and professors of color in the classroom.

“We have a lot of diversity initiatives that directly tie into student success,” Woods said. “It’s important for students to see themselves reflected in their professors and staff. We are committed to the breadth of diversity represented at Cal State East Bay and will continue to develop programs and services to support student success and the success of our faculty and staff.”