JOINT DIVERSITY AWARENESS TASK FORCE
Implementation: Upon Approval by the President
Social Dynamics: Moving Forward
Current events that are showing a trend in societal activities are cited in the Discussion and Conclusion of the Informational Report by the first Joint Diversity Awareness Task Force titled “Progress to Date and Steps for Moving Forward”, University Faculty Senate Agenda, April 28, 2015, Appendix K, http://senate.psu.edu/senators/agendas-records/april-28-2015-agenda/appendix-k/.
Recent events have certain events to people’s attention. Some of these are highlighted in the Discussion and Conclusion, and include:
- The Ferguson Missouri protests
- Penn State students participation in the “die-in” protests
- Misconduct by student organizations
- Increasing racial tensions prevalent in today’s societies
- Fraternity fall-out at the University of Oklahoma
The document goes on to further point out that “The lessons learned over the course of the last two years have suggested both possibilities and challenges for any committee going forward, that is charged with enhancing the diversity mission of the University”. Taking a cue from the above, it is important to identify the communities that are represented within the Penn State body the recommendations will serve. In broad terms, the local community consists of Pennsylvanians, and students, faculty and staff who are from out of State. The international community includes all people from other nations. These people have in fact been addressed at times as Penn State Ambassadors to the various nations they come from. Among all these, people with diverse opinions, beliefs, and preferences must also be recognized. In short, the Penn State body is a sampling of humanity world-wide. The task can therefore be summed up as “building an all-inclusive society in an atmosphere of tolerance, acceptance, and appreciation of the differences between people”. One approach to achieving this is through “conversations”. Considering the different styles by which people communicate, each person has the responsibility of identifying the style of the “other person”, and adapt to it in an atmosphere of cooperation, and conciliation. To ensure that the bond is sustained, it is imperative that efforts are made by both parties to demonstrate respect for each other.
The trend in recent times indicate that the whole nation will find such “conversations” engaging, and the conversations will attract participants of diverse nature. The statement “Diversity is council, Unity is command” (Cyrus the Great: 600 – 529 BCE) suggests that by engaging diversity in humanity, we would gain from different points of view and diverse perspectives.
Considering the diverse nature of societal dynamics, conversations are developing based on different endeavors which may be considered as the platforms for these conversations. To cite an example, the music industry in taking the “conversation” to the national level, is planning a two-hour concert that has variously been advertised as Shining A Light: A Conversation About Race, and Shining A Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America.
Diversity as used in this report involves all underrepresented people as well as the social majority. In one area, racial relations, efforts that are being made in various forms such as Black Lives Matter have developed some momentum. As has been suggested by others, the title could just as well be All Lives Matter.
Individual incidents of note have occurred on the Education Platform such as the resignation of the President of the University of Missouri, and the efforts made by the University of Michigan to increase underrepresented minorities in their freshmen that has resulted positively. While these events have drawn national attention, it will be worthwhile to create a national platform using Education as a basis. The objective will be to “educate” people to help them identify misinformation and misconceptions that can lead to negative attitudes and behavior. An example of such negativity is clearly demonstrated in the CNN/HBO documentary Terror in Mumbai; http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/terror-in-mumbai/. Penn State can establish such a platform, and apply its instructional prowess to conduct such education. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” (Madiba Nelson Mandela: 1918 – 2013). The future can only be the result of what people plan and execute today. It will be helpful if the platform has a high profile. To this end, it might be useful if someone, perhaps of the stature of Ms. Oprah Winfrey, could be attracted to partner with Penn State. The conversations may be titled Conversations About US. US may refer to Pennsylvania State University as a body, or U.S., or all of mankind as the problem of diversity impacts humanity as a whole, and as inferred above, Penn State has representatives in many parts of the world. Positive results that such conversations can lead to are exemplified by acts of selflessness as demonstrated in Egypt’s Muslims attend Coptic Christmas mass, serving as “human shields”, http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/3365.aspx, Muslims protect Christians in Kenyan bus attack; tell terrorists ‘You’ll have to kill us all’, http://www.myfoxboston.com/news/muslims-protect-christians-in-kenyan-bus-attack-tell-terrorists-youll-have-to-kill-us-all/11641792, and the nonfiction movie, Lone Survivor, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lone_Survivor_%28film%29. The excellent recent work of Penn State in drawing speakers of the highest caliber for our Martin Luther King events suggests that this is feasible.
Penn State: Moving Forward
The numbers provided in the tables below present a breakdown by ethnicity of students, and faculty and staff. The numbers give a clear indication of the need for efforts to attract more diverse students, and faculty and staff. The question of retention is also important, and can be addressed by creating focus groups where international students can meet. Also faculty and staff should be advised on sensitivity towards minority groups. Some suggested approaches for Penn State for improvement is to become
- an active participant with the Institute on Teaching and Learning through The Compact for Faculty Diversity,
- an institutional partner with the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity, and
- an institutional member of the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC)-New Jersey-Eastern Pa. – Delaware Region.
The following tables can be found at:
Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity
| Dickinson School of Law|
|Penn State Law||17||0||6||7||0||2||32||94||5||46||177|
|+College of Medicine||40||0||127||23||0||19||209||545||57||67||878|
| PA College of|
|TOTAL INCLUDING |
Full-Time Employees by Race/Ethnicity
|Penn State Law||3||0||4||3||0||0||10||72||5||3||90|
|College of Medicine||35||1||264||32||2||11||345||1,275||35||18||1,673|
|PA College of Technology||4||1||11||8||1||5||30||881||0||0||911|
- The Office of Educational Equity and Campus Environment should enlist a cadre of students, faculty, and staff to (a) develop a diversity action plan, in collaboration with unit administrators to enhance recruitment and retention of students, faculty, and staff, (b) develop recommended standards and metrics, centered on the objectives of the University’s Diversity Statement, for assessing recruitment and retention; (c) work with relevant stakeholders, such as Human Resources, unit administrators, and others to develop unit plans for effective implementation of the goals and metrics for administrative assessment.
- The Senate Committee on Educational Equity and Campus Environment should sponsor an annual report from the Office of Educational Equity and Campus Environment assessing its programs, initiatives and other significant work, and provide an opportunity for Senators to pose questions.
- The Office of Senior Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations should prepare a written articulation of standards and objectives that link development campaign themes to diversity initiatives. That office should provide summary information, annually, to the university faculty senate assessing the implementation of those standards and providing senators with an opportunity to pose questions.
JOINT DIVERSITY AWARENESS TASK FORCE (JDATF)
- Brian Aynardi
- Michael Bacallao
- Larry C. Backer (Chair – JDATF)
- Mark Brennan
- Thomas Brown
- Linda L. Caldwell
- Enica Castaneda
- William Easterling
- Roger Egolf
- Patreese D. Ingram (Chair – Technical Sub-Committee)
- Krishna P. Jayakar
- Eduardo Juarez
- Jonna M. Kulikowich
- Shawn A. Lichvar
- Emily J. McDonald
- Karyn McKinney Marvasti(Chair – Policy Coordination Sub-Committee)
- Mahdi Nasereddin
- Willie Ofosu (Chair – Substantive Policy Recommendation Sub-Committee)
- Curtis B. Price
- Victoria E. Sanchez
- Keith Shapiro
- Tramble Turner
- Carlos A. Wiley