Hudson County Community College (HCCC) has received the 2021 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. The annual award recognizes colleges and universities in the United States that demonstrate outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. HCCC is one of just eight community colleges among the 101 award recipients.
“This significant national recognition is another point of pride made possible by the leadership and support of the College’s Board of Trustees, and the engagement and outstanding dedication and contributions of the entire HCCC family,” said HCCC President Dr. Christopher M. Reber.
“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.”
Hudson County Community College serves one of the most ethnically and racially diverse communities in the United States. In 2019, Dr. Reber established the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (PACDEI), a team of 40 students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and external community members. PACDEI, through collaborations and partnerships, has played an essential role in the organic development of an inclusive institutional climate.
At the time of PACDEI’s inception, HCCC administered a College-wide climate survey. The survey results informed the development of four Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) overarching goals that served as the foundation of PACDEI’s comprehensive DEI Action Plan. These DEI goals are interwoven in the College’s updated Mission, Vision, and Values statements, and the Board of Trustees’ Goals, Academic Master Plan, 2021-24 Strategic Plan, and Student Success Action Plan.
In July, the College established the HCCC Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Yeurys Pujols was appointed the College’s inaugural Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. In addition to leading and supporting the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – which also includes Accessibility Services, Cultural Affairs, and oversight of Title IX operations – Mr. Pujols is charged with promoting an institutional climate that embraces and celebrates differences while championing equitable and inclusive practices, policies, and procedures in all activities for all community members.
This includes working with various HCCC offices and divisions to establish guidelines and practices for recruitment and hiring, screening committee policies, promotion considerations, and succession planning; creating clear and transparent processes for safety, security, and incident reporting that are free of intimidation and respectful of confidentiality; and building community and a sense of belonging for students by advancing their academic development, professional growth, and personal transformation.
“These activities will promote and expand an institutional culture in which every person is celebrated, every voice is encouraged to contribute to shaping our institutional climate, and an equity mindset is infused and embedded into every part of the College,” Mr. Pujols stated.
HCCC has also been selected to receive the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) 2021 Equity Award for the Northeastern United States. That award will be presented on October 14, 2021, at the 52nd Annual ACCT Leadership Congress in San Diego, California.