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OSU honored with HEED award for 12th straight year

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Media Contact: Mack Burke | Associate Director or Media Relations | 405-744-5540 |

Oklahoma State University has received the 2023 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine — the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. 

The annual HEED Award is a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. As a recipient, OSU will be featured, along with 107 other recipients, in the November/December 2023 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. 

“Central to our mission as a land-grant institution is to create an environment at Oklahoma State where all are welcomed and included,” OSU President Kayse Shrum said. “It’s at the heart of the Cowboy Code and an essential part of the fabric of our culture. Oklahoma State brings people together and the differences enrich our university and make it stronger. I applaud Dr. Kirksey and the work of his team to make a difference on campus and in the lives of our students.”

OSU is one of only seven institutions across the U.S. to earn this nationally prestigious award for 12 consecutive years — going back to the award’s founding — and the only higher education institution in Oklahoma to be among this elite cadre of schools. 

The HEED Award — including the more targeted INSIGHT Into Diversity Health Professions, Law School and Community College HEED Awards — is the only national honor to recognize institutions of higher education for their outstanding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. 

“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.”

Additionally, for the seventh consecutive year, OSU earned the designation of being recognized as a HEED Diversity Champion. 

“Only higher education institutions among each year's HEED Award recipients that demonstrate an exemplary level of achievements and a strong and sustained commitment to supporting and advancing inclusive excellence throughout their university community are recipients of this elevated recognition,” said Dr. Jason F. Kirksey, vice president for institutional diversity and chief diversity officer. “OSU’s propensity to annually generate millions of dollars in private philanthropic support, corporate partnerships and federal grants as a result of our demonstrated commitment to inclusive excellence continues to elevate the university as a national leader and role model across higher education and beyond. The fact that another prominent external entity, again, offers an affirming nod to OSU’s efforts is certainly rewarding and humbling.” 

At the college level, four standout programs have been recognized as Inspiring Programs in STEM Award winners: 

  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Programs | Oklahoma State University College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology

CEAT offers a summer bridge program, networking opportunities, Diversity Week, DEI Engineering Week, wellness series, women’s history panel, STEM Pride Week, opportunities for faculty to connect with students, scholarships for underrepresented STEM students and study abroad experiences. CEAT also hosts community council partnership meetings to address the disparity of STEM education in low-income areas.

  • Native Explorers Program | Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, School of Biomedical Sciences – Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology

NEP exposes Native American students to STEM disciplines and medical fields through a broad network of professionals, tribal partners and federal agencies. The flagship program is a two-week summer course featuring hands-on activities and mentoring for college-level participants. NEP has also provided hands-on STEM lessons for K-12 students affiliated with Oklahoma-based tribes and classrooms in public schools.

  • Native Pathways Program | Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, Office of American Indians in Medicine and Science, College of Osteopathic Medicine at Cherokee Nation

NPPs are specific to American Indian students and include existing and new programs that focus on various activities such as recruitment, retention, a day in the life of a medical student, pre-admissions workshop, summer STEM internship on campus and in tribal hospitals and clinics, and shadowing and career exploration opportunities.

  • Operation Orange | Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences

Operation Orange is a free, one-day mini medical camp for middle and high schoolers. Participants spend a day in the life with Center for Health Sciences medical and graduate students. The program encourages female and other underrepresented students to pursue and succeed in health sciences. They participate in hands-on demonstrations, study anatomy and explore career opportunities.

OSU-CHS is a 2023 Health Professions HEED Award recipient. This is the third consecutive year OSU-CHS has been recognized with the award. 

OSU’s ability to demonstrate the transformative effect of consistently and intentionally engaging and incorporating the multitude of perspectives that exists within the university community is facilitating technological advancements and cross-disciplinary innovations that are helping solve many of the food, energy, water and health challenges facing the state, the nation and the world.

OSU is transforming higher education by equipping all graduates with the capabilities to successfully navigate an ever-shrinking globally competitive workforce.

For more information about the 2023 HEED Award and a complete list of recipients, visit

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