Created in July 1990, the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity is charged with fostering diversity and inclusion at Penn State and creating a climate of diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the University’s faculty, staff, leadership, and student body. This mission encompasses leadership for the University-wide strategic planning for diversity and inclusion, student academic success services and Federal TRIO Programs for underrepresented students, and support of educational access for targeted groups of low-income, potential first-generation college students both here at Penn State and at sites throughout the state, and serving as a catalyst and advocate for Penn State’s diversity and inclusion initiatives by providing University-wide leadership to increase our capacity for diversity.
Within the University, the office supports and evaluates the many diversity and inclusion initiatives and serves as an advocate for a range of populations. These include historically underrepresented racial/ethnic minorities; persons with disabilities; persons from low-income families who would be the first generation to attend college; veterans; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons; and women. The office also provides administrative support and advises three President's commissions for equity. Beyond the University, in targeted high schools and counties, the office helps low-income youth and adults to overcome the social, cultural, and educational barriers to success in higher education.
With more than a decade of experience in advancing our diversity and inclusion goals through strategic planning and a rich history of valuing diversity and inclusion, Penn State is among the national leaders in higher education in diversity strategic planning. We have successfully merged A Framework to Foster Diversity into the University's overall strategic plan under the foundation of Fostering and Embracing a Diverse World. Penn State’s vision, mission, and institutional values are interwoven throughout this plan, and they ultimately drive its success. Six foundations underpin all University endeavors and are considered fundamental to implementing this plan. These foundations—Enabling Access to Education, Engaging Our Students, Fostering and Embracing a Diverse World, Enhancing Global Engagement, Driving Economic Development, and Ensuring a Sustainable Future—connect to, empower, and sustain our values as an institution. Promoting equity and inclusivity in higher education is not only the right thing to do, it is also the strategic thing to do.