AN UPDATE ON A PLAN TO ENHANCE DIVERSITY AT PENN STATE

8-23-2001

--Roy Austin, associate professor of justice, sociology, and African American studies, is the director of the Africana Research Center at Penn State. Cary Fraser, assistant professor of African and African American studies and history, is associate director of the Center. An implementation committee comprising Penn State faculty from the African/African-American Studies Department and other departments, as well as students, has been formed. For the full appointment story, go to http://www.psu.edu/ur/2001/austinfraser.html.

-- The Africana Research Center is temporarily located in 215 Willard with one full-time staff assistant and the director.  Renovations to 217 Willard, the permanent home for the center, will begin this fall semester and are scheduled to be completed during spring semester.

--Two new faculty have been hired by the African and African-American Studies Department and will begin teaching this fall. They are Dr. Major Coleman, assistant professor of African and African American studies and political science, whose specialty is law and African Americans, and Dr. Robyn Spencer, assistant professor of African and African American studies and history, whose specialty is 20th century African American history.  The total of AAAS full-time, tenure-line faculty is now at six, with the department on track to make additional hires for next fall.

--The Faculty Senate will begin discussions this fall concerning the diversity requirement. The Senate is committed to a review of the existing diversity course offerings and will be paying special attention to offerings that will improve the curriculum.

--President Spanier addressed the importance of diversity to more than 6,000 incoming freshmen at the opening convocation at the University Park campus. All first-year students living in residence halls at several campuses including University Park will be taking part in a diversity discussion during initial residence hall meetings and will view a new video on diversity issues.

--All requirements to submit updates on the Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State: 1998-2003 have been mailed to appropriate departments. All updates are due Dec. 13 to the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity. Each unit's strategic plan is expected to be posted by Jan. 15 on the web site of the OVPEE. Written assessments of all updates will be completed by April 30, 2002.

--On Nov. 1, Marilyn E. Gist, the Boeing Endowed Professor of Business Management and professor of management and organization at University of Washington, will talk on "Building Collaborative and Diverse Communities" at the Academic Leadership Forum for department heads/divisions heads, to which deans, associate deans, department/division heads and directors of academic affairs are invited. She will meet separately to discuss diversity issues with the President's Council and academic deans.

--The Vice Provost for Educational Equity is now a member of the President's Council and the Academic Leadership Council, which includes academic deans and other senior University officers. He will review and give input on annual budgets for the colleges for the upcoming 2002-2003 academic year.

--A team of external non-University reviewers has been selected to conduct an independent review of the diversity programs at Penn State. The University is working with team members to set up a schedule of information-gathering meetings at the University during the fall semester.

--The search committee for the director of the Affirmative Action Office is being appointed. The committee will begin reviewing resumes on Sept. 4 and will continue to review applications until a candidate is selected.

--This fall, the Provost and the Vice Provost for Educational Equity are planning to consult with other universities in the Committee for Institutional Cooperation to identify possible additional systems of accountability for oversight of the implementation of diversity plans.

--A new web page for reporting hate crimes and other bias-motivated incidents is being developed by the Office of Educational Equity. A 24-hour hotline for reporting incidents has been established at 814-863-2020.

--The Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity is in the process of contacting student groups for more participation in commission activities including an enhanced mandate to review and advise on diversity programs.