Penn State is committed to respect for people as individuals, something that is essential for our University today. Yet all institutions, no matter how successful, need to strengthen their efforts toward cultural diversity, sensitivity and understanding. I intend to lead the way at Penn State. I want to assure all in the Penn State community that under my watch we will not tolerate episodes of racial, religious or sexual discrimination or harassment.
I want the University to be more human and compassionate. Intolerance toward people who are perceived to be different from ourselves can profoundly interfere with and erode efforts to increase the level of humanity at a university.
What can we do to ensure that the University celebrates diversity? First, we must make such efforts an institutional priority. That's where leadership is key. Administrators must really care about the University's students, faculty and staff, and through their policies and their actions they must demonstrate their beliefs to everyone on campus.
Similarly, faculty can convey an appreciation of diversity in their classes and in their many other interactions with students. Students can help each other learn to respect the differences among people who they encounter in classrooms, residence halls and their daily interactions on campus and in the local community.
We can all set a good example on the job and in our personal lives. We can all work harder at being more human and more accessible, at attending events that celebrate diversity and at making friends with people who are different from us. A good starting point to an open and friendly campus is to make sure on a one-to-one basis that we respect and care about the people we encounter every day.
Diversity presents opportunities that will enrich our lives enormously.
Graham B. Spanier, President
The Pennsylvania State University