UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State President Eric Barron has appointed a committee to develop recommendations for a comprehensive commemorative that celebrates Penn State’s history of and aspiration to diversity and inclusion across the many facets of the University.
“Our charge is to consider broad ideas that would encompass diversity and equity in all its forms,” said Marcus Whitehurst, Penn State's vice provost for Educational Equity and committee chair, “and pay tribute to our history but also reflect our hopes and plans for the future at Penn State.
“It’s an idea that has been proposed in one form or another for a while, actually,” he added. “In fact, a mural to celebrate diversity in all its aspects was one of the three choices on the 2016 class gift ballot last fall.” The mural received a significant number of votes, but ultimately students chose the endowment for Penn State's Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).
Penn State has nearly two decades of experience in advancing diversity and inclusion goals through strategic planning. The University also has a rich history of valuing diversity and inclusion, and is among the national leaders in higher education in diversity strategic planning. Since the implementation in 1998 of the initial "Framework to Foster Diversity," which provided comprehensive strategic direction to the University's diversity initiatives, Penn State has made considerable strides toward building a diverse, inclusive and equitable institution.
In spring 2013, diversity research/analytics firm Halualani & Associates evaluated Penn State’s processes, and noted that Penn State “houses one of the most impressive diversity infrastructures in the country.” In addition, in 2015, Penn State received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award (HEED) from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, which recognizes colleges and universities for their commitment to diversity and inclusion. This is the third straight year that Penn State has earned this distinction.
In 2016, INSIGHT into Diversity also recognized Penn State as one of the first Diversity Champions in Higher Education. Only nine other universities in the nation have been given this distinction.
Members of the committee hail from across the University, and include Whitehurst; Michael Blanco, senior diversity planning analyst; David Gray, senior vice president for Finance and Business and University treasurer; Ford Stryker, associate vice president for the Office of Physical Plant; Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs; Ken Hickman, director of the Penn State All-Sports Museum; Jackie Esposito, university archivist; Mark Bodenschatz, associate athletic director for facilities; Jonna Kulikowich, professor of education and 2014-15 chair of the University Faculty Senate; Steve Watson, university architect; Borja Gutiérrez, faculty lecturer, Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Equity (CLGBTQ); Niharika Sharma, coordinator for research and administrative services in the Office of the President, Commission on Racial/Ethnic Diversity; Erin Long, learning designer, John A. Dutton e-Education Institute, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Commission for Women; Maria Schmidt, assistant dean for multicultural programs, Council of College Multicultural Leadership (CML); Grace Hampton, professor emerita of art education and integrative arts, Forum on Black Affairs; Kevin Horne, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Association; and three undergraduate student members: Brooke Jin, film/video and management information systems; Christina Walker, special education; and Jesica Villagomez, health policy and administration.
The committee’s first meeting will be in August.