Penn State joins others in asking for Executive Order to be rescinded

New requirements from executive branch on race and sex raises questions about workplace training and more

In a letter to the Penn State community, University President Eric Barron expressed Penn State's opposition to the recent Presidential Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping, which has caused uncertainty and confusion at colleges and universities across the United States in their efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. Credit: Curtis Chan / Penn StateCreative Commons

Dear Penn State Community:


The recent Presidential Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping, which applies to all federal contractors and grant recipients, including colleges and universities, has caused uncertainty and confusion on campuses across the United States – including Penn State.  Specifically, the Executive Order outlines certain parameters for conducting employee diversity training within the workplace. 

Our University, through its membership in the American Council on Education (ACE), is participating in advocacy efforts with ACE and the more than 50 other higher education associations that sent a letter to the White House opposing Executive Order 13950 and requesting that it be withdrawn. I hope you will take the time to read the ACE statement, "because we ardently agree that "... promoting and enabling diversity and inclusion are essential to the long-term strength, economic competitiveness and security of our nation," but more importantly, "it is also the right thing to do. The recent tragedies of racial violence underscore now, more than ever, the importance of vigorous efforts to address racism and injustice..."

Penn State has long worked to advance diversity and inclusion, eliminate disparities, and create a respectful environment free from discrimination and harassment. One of the most important aspects of our involvement in organizations such as ACE, as well as other associations, is to have a strong collective voice to address issues facing higher education. It is critical that Penn State and others raise our concerns together to the highest levels, as these policy decisions greatly impact our workplaces and our learning communities. Speaking as a unified force helps to achieve modifications and influence necessary change.

Currently, a group of individuals within the University has been convened and is analyzing this Executive Order to consider the implications for Penn State. To date, no workplace diversity training programs at Penn State have been suspended and we believe that until more guidance is known, we should continue our mode of regular operations and trainings. Our Affirmative Action Office, headed by Suzanne Adair, is coordinating the University’s response to the new federal  requirements. Anyone with questions or concerns should contact Dr. Adair at

As more information is gathered, members of our University community should anticipate that additional guidance will be provided.

Thank you. 

President Eric J. Barron

Penn State

Last Updated October 19, 2020