Seminole State receives 2019 HEED Award

6th consecutive award for excellence in diversity and inclusion

Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Written by: Mark Richardson

Seminole State College of Florida has received the 2019 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. This is the sixth consecutive year the College has been named as a HEED Award recipient.

As a recipient of the annual HEED Award, a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion, Seminole State will be featured, along with 92 other recipients, in the November 2019 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

“The College’s sixth consecutive HEED Award signifies the continuing dedication of faculty and staff to our students, who come with diverse backgrounds,” said Janet Balanoff, associate vice president for equity and diversity/Title IX coordinator at Seminole State. “Every employee has a role in the education process. The pride they take in meeting student needs, in and out of the classroom, shines through. Diverse backgrounds are a fact of life, but inclusion is the pathway to achievement of educational dreams and contributions that reach beyond Central Florida.”

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine selected Seminole State based on its commitment to foster a campus culture that clearly demonstrates the belief that individual differences enhance the educational and workforce experience as well as the College’s leadership role in the community. 

Here are some highlights of the College’s commitment to diversity and inclusion:

•    Institutional Effectiveness and Research reported full-time Hispanic student enrollment at 27%. The College expects federal designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution based on that achievement.

•    The Center for Fine and Performing Arts invited 20 Hispanic high school students interested in the arts to a Sunday matinee performance in April 2019 by Flamenco del Sol. Afterward, they involved them with the young students who apprentice with this company.

•    Social media outreach is frequent and varied, planned meticulously within the “buy” of Marketing and Strategic Communications. Marketing also sponsored Orlando City Soccer as “the official education partner” through December 2018, reaching a diverse audience and including professional soccer players at Decision Day, Enroll and GO, and other recruitment events to attract students.

•    Marketing purchased a Hispanic digital campaign through Cox Media in 2018. It served pre-roll video (about 25,000 impressions per month) and digital display and retargeting ads (about 350,000 impressions per month).

•    The College was proud to send six students (instead of the usual two) to Black, Brown and College Bound, a national conference organized by Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla. Two were from the College’s Adult High School; four were A.A. students planning to transfer to a four-year program. This is Dr. Georgia Lorenz’s first year as president. She allocated funds for this priority: co-sponsorship of the conference, with six students, two advisors, the director of Student Life, the associate vice president for Equity and Diversity/Title IX Coordinator, and herself in attendance for all three days. Dr. Lorenz addressed the 600 attendees on March 8, 2019. She has pledged the same level of support for March 2020. 

•    Co-curricular offerings include Unity Gay-Straight Alliance on three campuses; Full Spectrum for students on the autism spectrum; First Gen organization and peer mentors; Caribbean Club; African American Cultural Forum; Black Student Association; Hispanic Student Association; and many others. On June 12, the College observed the third anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shootings in which our student Luis Vielma lost his life. The College continues to welcome donations to endow a scholarship in his name. At the observance, the Foundation proudly announced that the Sam Gaustad scholarship for LGBT+ students reached fully-endowed status and now can fund students into the future.

•    Recruitment of diverse faculty: when she arrived, Dr. Georgia Lorenz set the tone for her presidency by immediately convening a committee to participate in “Black Minds Matter,” an online course and follow-up program led by Dr. J. Luke Wood at San Diego State. He and Dr. Frank Harris focus their research on the success of minority male community college students. Approximately 40 students, faculty and staff completed the Fall 2018 online course with 10 weekly discussions and supplemental meetings to prepare recommendations for the College. One recommendation was a recruitment plan for increasing faculty diversity. The College’s most immediate need is for African American male faculty. The plan was approved by Executive Team and Dr. Lorenz, with first-year funding and discussion of future needs. 

Dr. Harris is scheduled to address Convocation on September 24, the day when the College is closed for all faculty and staff to engage in professional development sessions. He will follow Dr. Lorenz’s state of the college address with a summary of  techniques to promote the success of traditionally underrepresented students, then offer two breakout sessions for employees.  

There is a student component to "Black Minds Matter," also, that involves faculty members affirming the brilliance of Black minds, breaking the “cool pose” and providing the educational approaches appreciated by African American students such as recommending Honors classes and assuming success without assuming at-risk status. Those pedagogies were offered as workshops during Spring 2019, continuing for Fall 2019 and Spring 2020. This is a major campaign for the College.

•    The College operates separate committees for Online Accessibility; Title IX; community engagement with six specialty Chambers and community organizations; Women Moving Forward; LGBT+ Safe Space; Stonewall Observance 2018-19 (planned three years in advance); Black Minds Matter; Black, Brown and College Bound; and annual Pulse Observance.

•    The Director of Purchasing participated in Supplier Diversity Matchmaking at the Hispanic Business Conference, spoke at the Hispanic Chamber’s “How to do business with public entities” event (March 2019) and the African American Chamber’s “How to do business with Seminole State” event (April 2019). He is a member on the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Supplier Diversity Council.

“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.”

Seminole State is one of only seven colleges and universities in Florida to receive a 2019 HEED Award. Florida State University, Hillsborough Community College, University of Central Florida, University of North Florida, University of South Florida, and the University of West Florida were the other Florida institutions recognized.

For more information about the 2019 HEED Award, visit

About Seminole State College

Seminole State College of Florida, established in 1965, serves nearly 30,000 students across six sites in Central Florida. A comprehensive college, Seminole State has awarded more than 100,000 credentials, from bachelor's degrees to high school diplomas, and offers more than 200 degrees, certificates and programs designed for success. For more about the college, visit
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About INSIGHT Into Diversity

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine is the oldest and largest diversity publication in higher education today and is well-known for its annual Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award, the only award recognizing colleges and universities for outstanding diversity and inclusion efforts across their campuses. In addition to its online job board, INSIGHT Into Diversity presents timely, thought-provoking news and feature stories on matters of diversity and inclusion across higher education and beyond. Articles include interviews with innovators and experts, as well as profiles of best practices and exemplary programs. Readers will also discover career opportunities that connect job seekers with institutions and businesses that embrace a diverse and inclusive workforce. Current, archived, and digital issues of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine are available online at