Amid nationwide protests against police brutality and the injustices of systemic racism in the United States, Penn State President Eric Barron pledged to strengthen the university’s commitment to its established ideals of diversity, inclusion, and educational equity through a seven-part plan and a $10 million commitment to scholarships supporting diversity.
The targeted initiatives include mandatory bias training for all employees and bias and racism coursework for all students; the improvement of policies, procedures, and expectations to hire and retain more faculty from underrepresented groups; a closer look at bias and use of force in policing; the enhancement of mental health resources; and a task force co-chaired by a student to review the Student Code of Conduct.
“Our very mission is to serve and advance the citizens of our commonwealth and nation through education,” Barron wrote in a letter to the Penn State community in June. “It is a mission that fails if we are not diverse and inclusive.”
To address the more immediate safety concerns of students, faculty, and staff related to the current climate of unrest, a Select Penn State Presidential Commission on Racism, Bias and Community Safety was created. An oversight group, chaired by trustee Brandon Short ’99 Bus, will hear updates and provide input and guidance related to the commission’s work as well as the initiatives being launched to combat racism and bias across the university.
In addition to the Educational Equity Matching Program, which directs $10 million raised through the university’s current fundraising campaign to be used for matching diversity-supporting scholarships, Penn State endowed the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship in Educational Equity with a $50,000 commitment, and another $50,000 commitment to the Osaze Olufemi Osagie Memorial Scholarships for Educational Equity.
A website to share resources, updates, and community input has been set up at http://actiontogether.psu.edu.