CORVALLIS, Ore. – For the third consecutive year, Oregon State University has received a national award that honors colleges and universities for having a campus culture committed to diversity and inclusion.

Oregon State was one of two universities or colleges in Oregon and one of only four Pacific Northwest institutions and 91 nationally to receive the 2020 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

“Only about 3% of the nation’s colleges and universities receive this award annually, and for Oregon State to have received this award for three consecutive years signifies our ongoing commitment to the progressive advancement of inclusion and diversity both on campus and society at large,” said Oregon State President F. King Alexander. 

Earlier this month, Alexander unveiled a university-wide effort called “Moving Forward Together.” The initiative outlines actions and commitments underway – and others that are planned – to advance OSU’s commitment to opposing systemic racism and supporting the success of Black, Indigenous and other students, faculty and staff of color.

Charlene Alexander, vice president and chief diversity officer at Oregon State, said the award is recognition of the contributions of many individuals across the university.

“I am amazed every day at their hard work and commitment,” she said. “This has been a challenging year, one that has exposed areas where we know we can do better. I look forward to working with the OSU community as we move forward together.”

In recent years, Oregon State has worked to advance recruitment and retention of students from historically underrepresented communities, recruit and retain diverse faculty and help students develop cultural competence, Charlene Alexander said. Efforts include:

  • The Black Student Access & Success Initiative, which supports Black and African American student recruitment, access and success by providing culturally competent, university-wide services and programming, including academic support, resources, career development, recruitment and outreach. The program has had a strong impact on Black and African American students with application rates increasing 21% between fall 2018 and fall 2019; the number of students accepted increasing by 29%,; and the number of students attending OSU increasing by 16%. Retention and graduation rates have also improved.
  • Two new Living-Learning Communities, one focused on Black people and people of the African diaspora and the other centering on Indigenous people. Living-learning communities are located within residential halls and provide opportunity for students to find community and explore cultural identity. The Nia Black Scholar Living-Learning Community is located in Poling Hall and will allow students to build strong community, explore racial identity and understand what it means to be Black and African American in Oregon and OSU. The munk-skukum Indigenous Living-Learning Community is also located in Poling Hall and will connect students with a shared interest in Indigenous people and provide access to cultural events.
  • The Tribal Ecampus Initiative, which has significantly increased outreach to Native American communities in Oregon and across the country by enabling tribal members to earn college degrees through Ecampus, OSU’s nationally ranked online program. The initiative is a partnership between Ecampus and the Office of Institutional Diversity. Dedicated staff provide culturally competent course advising, academic support and financial aid counseling to ensure students from tribal communities are able to navigate and complete a college degree at OSU.
  • The Beaver Connect program, which eases the student transition to college. Students are placed in teams of up to four new-to-OSU students, one peer mentor and one faculty member for mentorship, guidance and community building in their first year at OSU. Teams meet up to five times per term during the first year in fall, winter and spring terms.
  • The Leading Change for Diversity Equity and Inclusion program, which was created by the Office of Institutional Diversity for academic leaders — including deans, school directors and department heads — to advance inclusion within their colleges, schools and departments.

As a recipient of the HEED Award, Oregon State will be featured, along with 90 other recipients, in the November issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.

“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 — continued leadership support for diversity, and 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.”

General OSU

About Oregon State University: As one of only three land, sea, space and sun grant universities in the nation, Oregon State serves Oregon and the world by working on today’s most pressing issues. Our more than 36,000 students come from across the globe, and our programs operate in every Oregon county. Oregon State receives more research funding than all of the state’s comprehensive public universities combined. At our campuses in Corvallis and Bend, marine research center in Newport, OSU Portland Center and award-winning Ecampus, we excel at shaping today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders.

Story By: 

Sean Nealon, 541-737-0787, [email protected]


Charlene Alexander, 541-737-5936, [email protected]


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