President Barron’s remarks from 43rd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Banquet

I am truly honored to speak here tonight.

In the past, I have spoken from personal experience, as a person who, as a teenager, grew up in the time of Martin Luther King Jr. I had the great honor to have Coretta Scott King teach my Sunday school class; to worship at Ebenezer Baptist Church, to see the power of massive marches against injustice, and to be in King’s funeral procession in Atlanta. This honor does not stem from being there, but rather from being witness to and inspired by profound greatness.

Dr. King was truly inspirational — and so many of his powerful words are immortalized. Three quotes in particular resonate with me.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

More than five decades after speaking these words, Dr. King is still the standard bearer of our human morality in this nation. But the profound greatness of this man is not the staying power of his words, or how we still marvel at his eloquence and commitment, but that he spoke and acted in the face of great conflict, extraordinary ignorance, and unbelievably dangerous hatred, all bottled into the toxicity of segregation. And, he inspired so many to walk with him, with history-changing effect.

And that is what I want to talk about.

We celebrate the history-changing effect of Dr. King, but sadly I believe that the vocalization of ignorance, the signs of dangerous hatred, and the potential for conflict have returned to a level that we have not seen in many decades.

We feel it everywhere, even on campuses that work to change the world through education and transformative experiences. My belief is that you and I have seen it building for multiple years, but somehow today it seems deafening in its volume.

In context of this rising tension, it is perhaps not surprising that a group of our students came to me last year and asked that we send a stronger message of inclusion from the very first day of classes. That meeting was actually the birth of “All In.” We wanted to accomplish three things.

First, create a message that we could rally around — one we built on Wally Triplett and the refusal of Penn State football to acquiesce to the demand from southern schools to only bring white players — our response was “we play all or we play none — we are Penn State.” We play all or we play none — that is a message that resonates throughout Penn State’s history.

Second, try to rewire our thinking — to recognize that every person you see at Penn State, regardless of what you think you see, has earned the right to be here through brains and hard work. When you see someone, your first reaction should be — this person must be interesting and worth knowing or they wouldn’t be here at Penn State.

And three, perhaps more than anything, we wanted specific ideas on how we could move from a focus on diversity to one of inclusion. We all know that the difference between our reality and our aspirations requires action.

I am sure you have heard Verna Myers description that Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.

If we invite a disabled person to Pegula Ice Rink, but allow donors to take the closest parking places, we haven’t asked them to dance.

If we welcome Jewish and Muslim students to Penn State, but don’t provide food that satisfies the needs of their religion, we haven’t asked these students to dance.

If our recruiting process has bias, we haven’t even issued an invitation much less asked anyone to dance.

And if we do not make the effort required for retention and success, we can hardly claim to have asked these faculty and staff to dance.

Today, Pegula has a different parking plan, we have a new food service that allows students to practice their faith, we have recruited our first Senior Director of Talent, Diversity and Inclusion to focus on recruitment and retention, and we have opened a new matching funds program for postdoctoral fellows to attract young PhDs from underrepresented groups to Penn State. These are just a few examples of action resulting from specific proposals offered as a part of All In. There are many more.

I want to be proud of the successes so far, but truthfully I cannot be. Why, because there is a very great difference between where this institution wants to be in terms of diversity and inclusion and reality. Why, because we are incapable of expelling hatred, easing the tension of a nation, or ensuring that the person sitting next to us is not posting racist posters in the middle of the night. We are incapable of ensuring that everyone is All In. In fact, sadly, we will never have everyone All In.

And importantly, despite our intent, people tell me All In is a program focused on our image, not on the reality we strive for. Perhaps that is a failure on my part to communicate or a failure to entrain new students in our ever-changing population. After all the successful ideas are most likely to come from within. Perhaps it is an issue of whether we can really trust any administration not to have shallow motives? Do you know the African proverb that Maya Angelou used to quote — “be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.”

Well, I don’t want to be the naked person that offers anyone a shirt. I don’t want to run away from our reality. We need to be the place where we play all or we play none; we need to be the place where your first reaction to someone who is different than you is to say they must be of value because I know they earned the right to be here. We need to be the place where tangible ideas can be put into action. All In, or whatever words are used, is a request for specific actionable ideas. We need it to be successful, and it won’t without our collective efforts and it won’t if we don’t believe we can make progress.

I can say it plainly — if we can’t make progress in this community, for which so many abhor injustice, how can we hope to be successful nationally acting in the face of growing conflict, great ignorance, and increasingly dangerous hatred in society at large. We cannot afford to fail.

In closing, I like Dr. King’s words “Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.” I also like Theodore Richards’ interpretation of those words. We find salvation not in adjusting to our society but in using our maladjustment as a creative, not a destructive, force to transform it.

We cannot celebrate a legacy if we do not have the will to live it.

Thank you for listening.

‘Raise the Song’ in praise of our tremendous community and our successful University

We are just a few months into the academic year and already there have been extraordinary achievements and noteworthy accomplishments. I am so proud of what is happening at Penn State, and I’d really like to take this opportunity to raise the song. Here are a few notes that recently really impressed me.

As you know, federal and state dollars that support research are in decline. Faculty have to be outstanding, aggressive in writing proposals, and consistent in their level of accomplishment to maintain funding for research. So, all Penn Staters should be incredibly proud that Penn State broke our all-time record for research expenditures this year — totaling nearly $863 million.

Philanthropy is of growing importance to the success of Penn State. It is very difficult to aspire to greatness when funding is based on tuition and declining state support. In this regard, our alumni and friends are sending a strong signal on the importance of Penn State to them. This year, in only the first year of our new fundraising campaign, A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence, we raised more than $300 million — the third highest amount in our history. We had one of the largest increases in private gift commitments of any Big Ten school last year, and an impressive 5 percent increase in the number of alumni donors. In all, a total of 222,448 alumni, parents, companies, foundations and friends made a gift to Penn State. Now that is a message!

I am particularly proud of our overall graduation rate. National ranking groups like U.S. News and World Report predict the graduation rate of our students based on factors such as the number of students in the top 10 percent of their high school class, and the family economics of our students. Penn State’s doors are wide open to hard-working students, and U.S. News predicts that our graduation rate should be only 65 percent. In fact, it is 86 percent. The difference — a whopping 21 percent — is the largest of any university ranked among the top 100 schools. No one is even close. Penn State is the land of opportunity for tens of thousands of students. And more than 600 companies each semester come to recruit the combination of our students’ work ethic and a Penn State education that ranks in the top 1 percent in the world. No wonder more than 130,000 individuals applied to come to Penn State this year.

Speaking of graduation rates, our student-athletes also outperform our sister institutions with an outstanding graduation rate of 90 percent. A few other highlights from this year’s NCAA 2017 Graduation Success Rate report:

— Men’s basketball has a 100 percent graduation rate for the fifth consecutive year;

— Women’s basketball has a 92 percent graduation rate for the second year in a row; and

— The Nittany Lion football team has an 84 percent graduation rate, up 4 points from last year.

All three teams continue to be above the national average for their sport. This is testimony to the dedication of these student-athletes and their coaches, who face long hours of practice, a full schedule of home and away games, and challenging academic schedules. I am proud that Penn State student-athletes continue to achieve noteworthy success in the classroom and in athletic competitions.

In the area of innovation, Penn State has created 17 incubators for company startups across the state of Pennsylvania, giving faculty, staff, students and community members the support they need to create companies and drive our economy. Visited by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a senator, members of Congress, and numerous other elected state and local officials, our “launchboxes” are making their mark. In fact, there are many signs of success. This year, 1,100 teams from 450 universities around the world entered the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge. The grand-prize winner of $100,000 was Project Vive, a company founded by Penn State students (now alumni) that helps individuals with communication disabilities express themselves. This company had a great idea that was advanced through the Happy Valley Launchbox.

I have visited many universities and come to the conclusion that Penn State is likely the strongest university when it comes to crossing disciplinary lines to solve major problems of importance to society. Consider one example: A team led by Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture faculty was trying to solve the problem of energy loss where windows meet walls. Shadi Nazarian, associate professor of architecture, worked her way to finding experts in materials science and 3-D printing with the idea of literally printing a wall — where the material used for printing went seamlessly from concrete to glass. Really interesting. Now imagine this team entering a NASA competition to use 3-D printing to print a habitat on Mars. After all, NASA can’t actually ship buildings to Mars. Seventy-seven teams competed and only two survived — a corporate effort and PennStateDen@Mars.

Here are some additional notes:

Penn State World Campus is ranked in the top 10 in six categories of U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 Best Online Programs, the most of any institution.

For the fifth year in a row, Penn State has been included on the U.S. Department of State’s complete list of colleges and universities that produced the most Fulbright U.S. students.

Five Penn Staters were named to the Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ list!

The past five semesters are the five all-time highest for the number of Nittany Lion student-athletes with at least a 3.0 GPA. A record 97 Nittany Lions earned Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Awards for the 2016-17 academic year. Our football program has surpassed all prior academic standings.

The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics has selected Penn State’s Sandy Barbour as one of the recipients of the prestigious Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year Award. She also has been named to the United States Olympic Committee’s Collegiate Advisory Council, which is tasked with guiding high-performance strategies for Olympic sport programs at the collegiate level.

The Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center received the highest national honor for nursing excellence.

No wonder I am so proud of our great institution, and the amazing students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends who are contributing so much to our world. Although I don’t often have a chance to report it, I am fascinated and impressed by the continuous work underway on all of our campuses. Thank you for making us proud.

President responds to Penn State community’s messages on Greek life

Dear Friends:

I now have more than 1,000 emails and letters sitting in my office providing advice on Greek life. The advice runs the full gamut – from insisting that it is time to shut the system down to stressing the long demonstrated value of maintaining the leadership qualities of Greek-life self-governance. Many say education is the only way to solve the problem, while others focus on stiff penalties. I am asked to firmly take immediate action and I am told that nothing will work if I don’t take the time to involve the broadest possible set of constituencies in each decision. And, although I have read the many communications, I simply cannot answer them all. But, I also realize that in the hard work over the last few months on this problem, I have not taken the opportunity to communicate what we have done and why. So, that is the purpose of this letter to you.

First, we have had extensive internal discussions on our options, which range from ending our recognition of Greek-letter organizations (we can remove our recognition but actually cannot shut them down as they are private organizations) to implementing a set of far-reaching comprehensive reforms. With the clear recognition that the safety of our students is paramount, the University administration believes that the only choice is to attempt to replace the current Greek self-governance model with much greater University control. The self-governance model that is prevalent across the nation is not working, and we must act in the interest of improving the safety and well-being of our students. I was extremely pleased that the Board of Trustees unanimously endorsed this option during their special meeting on June 2, held solely to discuss these options.

Second, the reforms endorsed by the board consisted of 15 action items. These items came from many sources including the Fraternity and Sorority Life Task Force, which consisted of a very broad set of constituencies, as well as national discussions on alcohol and hazing. Five of the 15 action items are viewed as critical:

  1. University control of the misconduct process for serious violations by removing it from the IFC and Panhellenic councils;
  2. Deferred rush so that students become established at Penn State academically and socially before joining a Greek organization;
  3. Zero tolerance for hazing involving alcohol and physical or mental abuse, where violations will result in swift permanent revocation of recognition;
  4. Significant reductions in the magnitude and frequency of social events, which can only be held if there are trained bartenders and only beer and wine is served; and
  5. Creation of an independent group to monitor and assess Greek-letter organizations with the capability to do much more frequent spot checks.

The full set of action items can be found on Penn State Update. Next, the University created a Greek-life Response Team (GRT). Some have viewed this as a task force or a group designed to discuss how to prevent hazing and excessive alcohol consumption. However, the GRT is designed to implement the action items endorsed by the Board and therefore consists of individuals (Thomas G. Poole, vice president for administration and chair of the response team; Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs; Zack Moore, vice president for Government and Community Relations; Keith Morris, chief, University Police and Public Safety; Frank T. Guadagnino, associate general counsel) who are directly responsible for employees assigned to develop the implementation strategies for one or more of the 15 tasks. For example, one of the action items is focused on our leadership in solving problems related to hazing, and consequently we will work to enable new legislation that increases the penalties for hazing.  For that reason, the VP for Government and Community Relations will serve on the GRT as he has responsibility for federal and state lobbyists and interactions with local governments.

The GRT will also have a partner group, consisting of a dozen or more individuals who will review and react to the implementation plans for each action item. This group will be intentionally broad and representative, involving student leaders, members of sororities and fraternities, members of the Board of Trustees, various faculty and staff leaders, and alumni. This review group will be co-chaired by the vice president for Commonwealth Campuses and the vice provost for Educational Equity to ensure that any proposed implementation plan doesn’t have unintended consequences or miss any population of students. The co-chairs will serve on the GRT for that purpose. Following feedback and revision, it is then my intent to post the specific implementation plans.

It is important to understand that the University’s many student organizations provide unique learning opportunities that expand upon the rich learning experience found within the classrooms at Penn State. We value these organizations because they give our students the chance to practice their leadership and organizational skills, to take responsibility for outcomes, to build community, and to better understand what it means to be responsible for one’s self and for others. These opportunities are abundant within our Greek-letter organizations and we want students to own their experiences within these groups to the fullest extent possible. But until fundamental change is achieved within our Greek-letter community, the risk of relying on self-governance among these organizations is simply too great. The University must instead exercise a heavier hand in the oversight of these organizations and their activities, not because there is a desire to take responsibility from students, but because it must do so in the interest of their well-being, at least for now.

Our focus is here, within our own Greek-life community, but Penn State intends to lead others in this important dialogue and effort, too. These issues are national in scope, and to the extent we can lead the way in finding a better and more sustainable path for fraternities and sororities across the nation, we shall do just that.

I appreciate your many emails and letters, and I hope that I have provided you with a good sense of where we are going, why, and the many roles individuals will play in moving Penn State into a position where we can mitigate bad behavior and also protect the many positive values of Greek life.

Eric J. Barron
President, Penn State

An Open Letter to Penn State’s Greek Community

Many members of the Penn State administration and Board of Trustees are wondering if we are witnessing the beginning of the end of Greek life at Penn State.

Seventeen percent of Penn State students are in a fraternity or sorority. We know that students in Greek life self-report excessive drinking that is four times higher than the average student. We know that the vast majority of sexual assaults are associated with alcohol and that an association with Greek life yields a sexual assault victimization rate that is 50 percent higher than the average student. We also know this is a national problem plaguing this generation of students at universities across the country.

For a decade, we have tried to address these problems in myriad ways, recognizing that Greek houses are privately owned, managed by external parties, sanctioned by national organizations, and are not under the jurisdiction of University Police.

We require all first-year students to complete online alcohol and sexual assault education programs.  We added a session for parents and students in New Student Orientation on health and safety, covering alcohol poisoning, the connection between alcohol and sexual assault, and information about both Pennsylvania laws and University policies. Every first-year student receives three communication pieces from University Health Services at all alcohol education workshops. We require that fraternities and sororities participate in educational programs on alcohol, sexual assault, and hazing. We require students who have violated laws or policies related to underage drinking, public drunkenness, excessive consumption, or driving under the influence, either on or off campus, to attend two private sessions with trained alcohol counselors in our BASICS program and hold them accountable through the University’s conduct process. Yet excessive drinking and sexual assault continue.

We have worked hard to partner with the Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council to try and convince Greek-life-leaders to self-police and self-regulate adverse behavior. After all, our students are adults and must accept responsibility for their actions.

But the case of Kappa Delta Rho (KDR) was particularly troubling because the evidence from State College police suggested several instances of hazing, the use and sale of drugs and underage drinking, and harassment of females. KDR lost its recognition by the University for three years, forcing the members to vacate their house. The decision to revoke recognition of a fraternity or sorority is typically a joint action between Greek-life-leaders and the University in cases where the behavior is particularly problematic. Nationally, the revocation of recognition and vacating of a house, is the most severe of penalties that can be levied against fraternities.

In the case of KDR, Penn State’s Interfraternity Council decided to continue to recognize the group, with certain stipulations. But Penn State imposed a more severe three-year suspension. The behavior at KDR was so disturbing that I also created a Task Force on Fraternity and Sorority Life. The goal was to maximize the benefits of Greek life and minimize the negative behaviors. The Task Force was set up to reach consensus by combining the views of the State College community, Greek life and the University. The Task Force reached agreement on some areas, including a new “report card” that would inform parents and students about everything from average grade point to service hours to police citations and sanctions. The objective was to provide a “buyer’s guide” to help students avoid groups that had poor records and be attracted to groups with good records. The thinking was, that perhaps a “buyer’s guide” would affect the economic status of the house. At the same time it could reveal any negative trend in behavior over time, allowing us to intervene earlier by putting a house on notice. The Task Force did not reach consensus on the more challenging issues surrounding the control of excessive drinking and large parties at fraternity houses.

But surely the closure of a chapter and vacating of a house would be a deterrent for all others, and a “report card” would provide warning signs on when an intervention was needed. The tragic and heart-wrenching death of a student at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity completely changed this view. The Beta fraternity was viewed as a model fraternity and reflected a national perspective on many best practices. The house, privately-owned and situated like all other fraternity houses on private property, was beautiful, the subject of a multi-million dollar renovation. Both the Beta alumni and the national organization provided strict rules of behavior. The brothers had a ‘no alcohol’ policy, which stated that anyone caught drinking would be expelled from the fraternity. There was live-in oversight as contracted through an external agreement with the national organization. The owner of the house wired it for video surveillance. There were no outward signs of large parties, which are frequently the bane of community members. All indicators suggested a “model” fraternity. Yet, a death occurred because a student was forced to consume dangerous amounts of alcohol in a hazing ritual. The story is even worse. The story is incomprehensible.

Beta has been permanently banned at Penn State. Its “model” behavior was a charade. Despite all of the efforts above, the evidence of problems within the University’s Greek-letter community remain. The University made the decision to impose new, more aggressive measures, including:

  • Formal recruitment of new fraternity and sorority members, also known as rush, will be deferred one semester so that only students who have completed 14 credit hours may participate. No new freshmen at Penn State will be able to rush next fall. In consultation with various constituents within the Penn State Greek-letter community and their national organizations, other requirements and the possibility of deferring rush until a student’s sophomore year will be considered for 2018-19. Further discussion about the size of new membership classes within these organizations will be part of an ongoing review.
  • New social restrictions will include a strongly enforced prohibition against underage possession or consumption of alcohol in chapter houses and activities. Service of alcohol at social events must follow Pennsylvania law (e.g. limited to those 21 years of age or older), and must be distributed by RAMP trained servers only, though third party, licensed RAMP certified servers are preferred. Only beer and wine may be served, and kegs will not be permitted.
  • Attendance at social events will be limited to the legal capacity of the chapter house. No day-long events will be allowed, and no more than 10 socials with alcohol per semester will be permitted for each chapter, a reduction from the current limit of 45, which was established by Penn State’s Interfraternity Council.
  • Failure by the Greek-letter organizations to effectively prevent underage consumption and excessive drinking in their facilities and activities may lead the University to adopt further restrictions, including the possibility of declaring that the system must be completely dry.
  • These social restrictions will be enforced by a new monitoring protocol that will use both third parties and a combination of student leadership and University staff. When discovered, any violations of these expectations will result in appropriate and significant disciplinary action.
  • There will be no tolerance for hazing in these organizations, as all hazing is a violation of Pennsylvania law. Hazing that involves alcohol or serious physical abuse will likely lead to loss of University recognition. Increased educational programming focused on preventing hazing will be mandatory for all chapter members.

These steps build upon the University’s general moratorium on socials involving alcohol through the remainder of the spring semester.

We allowed one social event involving alcohol as long as all of the rules above were followed – Parent’s Weekend. Apparently this was a mistake. Nine of the University’s 82 fraternities and sororities that we know about violated at least one rule, and one fraternity – Sigma Alpha Mu – violated almost every rule that was imposed. The drinking was excessive and was not restricted to beer and wine. There was no third-party licensed server. The party was open to anyone and people with no formal association roamed freely in and out with access to handles of liquor. Those roaming in and out included some who were underage. Even some parents were visibly intoxicated. Now, these fraternities, particularly Sigma Alpha Mu, face decisions by the University.

Equally troubling are the signs that bad behavior will not end with our rules, it will just go underground. After the new rules were announced, an email from an IFC leader was sent to chapters using a derogatory term to describe women, while encouraging members to have the alcohol upstairs and not have it on the main floor where it risks having checkers discover a violation.

If new rules can just be ignored, or behavior just goes underground, and if there is no willingness to recognize the adverse impact of excessive drinking, hazing, and sexual assault, then is there any hope?

In the past, Greek life had a powerful positive effect on many of our alumni. The positive is well worth protecting – the value of brotherhood and sisterhood and the great service associated with Greek life. But the stories cited above cannot continue. If they do, I predict that we will see many empty houses and then the end of Greek life at Penn State.


In Step with All In

At the end of Cornel West’s speech during the Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration on Friday, many students stood up to ask questions and offer comments. One stated, “We seem to be ‘All In,’ but we are really not.” Certainly, he spoke the truth.

Earlier in the week, at a “World in Conversation” event joining Penn State’s President’s Council with more than 30 students, some expressed the view that they were working to “not object to someone they disagreed with” in order to better get along together. Others were looking for middle ground. Still others wanted to make sure every voice was heard, and that the right for their voice to be heard should be respected. And, it was more than the right to be heard, it was the importance of having their personal experiences valued. Others wanted it clear that “All In” was about listening and learning before judging, but reserved the right to wholly reject someone’s viewpoint. Some viewed disagreement as healthy as long as it yielded conversations that produced greater understanding. In other discussions, I heard the view that there are limits to civility in the face of insult or oppression.

My first reaction was — how can we be “All In” if we don’t know what it means? My second reaction was — perhaps the breadth and depth of this discussion on the meaning of inclusion is actually the first real benefit of “All In.”

Of course, I have my own view of the role of “All In” — that we would be reminded that every student at Penn State has earned the right to be here. That means our first assumption about any individual should be that they have much to offer to our community. I very much like the tagline “be who you are — together,” because it implies that we are accepting of those who are different from ourselves, even if we choose to disagree with their viewpoints. I also very much like how Cornel West described it as a potential “fusion of the best.” Give the best you have to offer and fuse it with the best that Penn State has to offer (I define Penn State as its students, faculty and staff). He said that to do otherwise is to foreclose on your possibilities.

I have never believed that everyone would be “All In.” But I did hope that a recognition, commitment and appreciation of the value of inclusion would become a greater part of the Penn State fabric, and there would be an even deeper appreciation of the meaning of “We Are.”

We have a long way to go. This isn’t a light switch. At the same time, much is happening that is worth celebrating and we have the potential for “All In” to have a lasting impact.

The student-organized Martin Luther King Jr. event that featured Dr. West as a speaker made me particularly optimistic. In my view, the student organizing group was the epitome of inclusion, as was the program. As just one example, several members of Penn State W.O.R.D.S.  (Writers Organized to Represent Diverse Stories) shared their stories. One woman shared a remarkable description that contrasted and intertwined her view of herself with that of someone else who viewed her as an object. In my mind, she was channeling W.E.B. Du Bois when he spoke of the stress of double-consciousness, “this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others.” Her words were profound and directly went to the broad vision of Dr. King. In so many ways, our students are leading the charge of a more inclusive Penn State, and we must do our best to help them succeed.

There are many more examples. Let me share a few:

Services & Support

  • University Housing and Food Services proposes to open a food service option that meets the standards of Halal and Kashrut for observant Muslim and Jewish individuals, respectively, as part of its renovated East Food District in Findlay Commons in East Halls. It will be part of Housing and Food Services’ “pure” station that also contains none of the top eight allergens, such as dairy, egg, fish, shellfish, etc.
  • The Office of Physical Plant is analyzing sports venues that may disadvantage access for the disabled, with the goal of mitigating such problems in the future.

Recruitment & Training

  • The Student Minority Advisory Recruitment Team (SMART) is a voluntary group of 60 to 70 students who help undergraduate admissions recruit and retain underrepresented students.
  • Penn State is now searching for a Senior Director of Talent, Diversity and Inclusion in Human Resources to work specifically on attracting, developing and retaining a high-quality diverse workforce at all colleges, campuses and non-academic units.
  • Human Resources now has more than 100-plus volunteers available to join search committees and help develop a diverse pool of candidates.
  • Penn State Police undertook daylong training on “enhancing relations in a diverse community” that included University Park, New Kensington and Schuylkill. The training was an outcome of the Task Force on Policing and Communities of Color and included community officers.


  • Residence Life launched an Inclusive Language Campaign for resident assistants to talk about the impact that residents’ words may have on others.
  • Penn State DuBois had a series called “Eat and Engage” specifically geared toward student participation and the celebration of diversity that addressed a broad set of topics, from being a better LGBTQ advocate to a conversation with a Buddhist monk known for his “loving kindness” meditation instruction.
  • Penn State Wilkes-Barre Continuing Education offers a movie and discussion series each semester — this spring’s offering will focus on the LGBTQ movement through films.
  • Penn State Berks is planning a faculty/staff retreat to discuss how to include diversity into the classroom curriculum.
  • Penn State Abington offered a workshop for all faculty and staff titled “Building Community and Difficult Conversations” where more than 150 individuals attended.
  • The Council of Commonwealth Student Governments is convening a Diversity and Inclusion Summit, which will launch a Pennsylvania Patch Works initiative to create an artwork “patch” to celebrate diversity and inclusion on each campus. The works can be assembled into a collage that can travel through the Commonwealth.
  • Outreach and Online Education has launched a theme for 2017 titled “Challenging Stereotypes and Humanizing Our Colleagues,” and has established a plan to have one internal “All In” event every quarter.
  • The World Campus featured an “All In” event on its digital calendar and reported reaching more than 13,000 students.

Awareness & Education

  • An “All In” Award for commitment to diversity and inclusion will be given annually ($1,500 and a plaque) at the Multicultural Research Center’s annual awards reception. The award is open to all full-time faculty, staff and students and nominations are being accepted until March 13.
  • Intercollegiate Athletics and Strategic Communications have disseminated video messages from Penn State students and “All In” awareness materials at sporting events and through social media since the launch in October.
  • Two buses in State College will be wrapped with “All In” messages to help raise awareness at University Park and in State College.

I know there are many events, activities and actions that I have missed, but I am impressed by the growing emphasis on diversity and inclusion across our great university. Thank you.

Quality Advocates session set for Feb. 10

President Eric Barron will discuss the “All In” initiative at the Office of Planning and Assessment’s next Quality Advocates session. It will be from 9-10 a.m., Friday, Feb. 10. The session will be held in Room 508 Rider Building on the University Park campus. All interested faculty, staff, administrators, and students are invited to attend.

For more information and to register for this Quality Advocates session, call the Office of Planning and Assessment at (814) 863-8721 or email Representatives of Penn State campuses interested in participating in this event via videoconference also should contact the Office of Planning and Assessment to make arrangements.

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