UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In response to the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent protests that have shone a spotlight on the reality of institutional, systemic racism in our nation, Dean Kimberly Lawless wrote in emails to the College of Education faculty, staff and student communities, "We, as educators, have an obligation to be models for diversity, equity and inclusion for our nation and the world; to take responsibility for one other and to push for meaningful and significant change." In those emails and elsewhere, she also has emphasized that "our words will ring hollow if they are not accompanied by action."
Now, Lawless has accompanied her own words with action by creating a new undergraduate scholarship through a five-year pledge.
The George P. Floyd Memorial Scholarship in the College of Education, an annually funded scholarship, will be awarded for at least the next five years to full-time undergraduate students enrolled or planning to enroll in the College of Education who have a demonstrated financial need and whose gender, race, ethnic, cultural and/or national background contribute to the diversity of the student body.
"I initiated and seeded the funding of this scholarship because it is critically important to practice intentionality in our college, University and country with regard to ending systemic racism," Lawless said.
"The death of George Floyd demarcates a turning point in this struggle, and I wanted a persistent resource within our college, which addresses inequities that stem from racism and moves us toward social justice. While the scholarship is a small step, it demonstrates that together, we can all make a difference," she said.
From the identified pool of eligible recipients, and to the extent possible, first preference to receive the scholarship will be given to students who graduated from high schools scoring in the bottom 25% of the annual Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State Report Card, or success indicator.
"The Office of Development is pleased to support Dean Lawless’ philanthropic leadership in providing critical financial assistance to students whose academic performance, in spite of economic and other disadvantages, opens the door to a Penn State education. We look forward to celebrating their contributions in the classroom and in the community," said Steve Wilson, director of development for the College of Education.
Other College of Education faculty, staff, alumni, students, parents and friends may contribute to the amount available for immediate awarding each year by clicking here. To contribute through payroll deduction, click here and scroll down to the Payroll Deduction section.
Gifts to the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship in the College of Education will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, "A Greater Penn State" seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hard-working students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.