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Increasing our Capacity for Diversity Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation

Penn State has demonstrated a deep and rich commitment to diversity and equity, and we continue to be mindful of the history on which we build. As we move into this third phase of diversity strategic planning in 2010-15, the previous University-wide diversity strategic plans, A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State: 1998-2003 and A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State: 2004-09, remain foundational. The Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity maintains a Web site at that forms a comprehensive repository of Framework documentation. The site also features an overview of Penn State's diversity planning history, including a detailed timeline. A complete review of this site along with the two previous Framework documents is recommended for a thorough understanding of our history and activities to date.

A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State: 1998-2003 and 2004-09

Diversity planning at Penn State has always been intertwined with its general strategic planning. The increasing articulation between the general strategic planning process and the Framework in both the University-and unit-level planning is particularly indicative of our level of commitment. While the University had been engaged in unit-level planning for some time, a University-wide strategic plan was not developed until the mid-1990s. At that time, a University Planning Council was charged to develop a plan based upon thorough review and evaluation of unit-level plans. Review of unit-level plans in regard to diversity revealed efforts to be inconsistent across units and without centralized coordination. It was clear that a comprehensive, University-wide approach was necessary if Penn State was to achieve its diversity potential. The University Planning Council commissioned the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity to develop the University's first comprehensive strategic plan for diversity to form a common set of diversity goals for the entire University, which would be implemented within the context of each unit's specific needs and culture. The resulting plan, A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State: 1998-2003, was launched in early 1998, nearly simultaneously with the University's first general strategic plan, Academic Excellence: Planning for the Twenty-First Century , which was launched in July 1997.

The 1998-2003 Framework positioned diversity as central to Penn State's aim of strengthening its position as an international leader in higher education. The purpose of the Framework was to outline a plan to leverage institutional resources to bring about multicultural transformation and augment the University's leadership position in an increasingly diverse world. In order to realize this vision, the Framework identified seven institutional challenges that could not be sufficiently addressed by ad hoc efforts from various units or individuals:

  1. Developing a Shared and Inclusive Understanding of Diversity
  2. Creating a Welcoming Campus Climate
  3. Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Student Body
  4. Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce
  5. Developing a Curriculum That is Supportive of the Goals of Our New General Education Plan
  6. Diversifying University Leadership and Management
  7. Coordinating Organizational Change to Support Our Diversity Goals

At the beginning of A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State: 1998-2003, units provided a brief overview of their plans for implementation within their general strategic planning reports. The University Planning Council provided brief feedback on these plans. To determine progress in implementing the Framework , a comprehensive and participatory assessment of unit-level updates was conducted at the midpoint of the planning period in 2001. A similar review was conducted at the conclusion of the Framework planning period in 2004.

A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State: 2004-09 was launched in January 2004 to continue the University's diversity strategic planning trajectory. Analysis of our progress and implementation indicated that the central tenets of the initial Framework remained relevant and effective. The scholarship of Daryl Smith, one of the leading scholars on diversity and institutional planning, identified four dimensions as critical to comprehensive campus diversity: (1) Campus Climate and Intergroup Relations, (2) Representation (Access and Success), (3) Education and Scholarship, and (4) Institutional Viability and Vitality.33 Framing the seven Challenges within these dimensions affirmed the alignment of the Challenges we had identified with national scholarship on diversity and institutional transformation. Several items designed to improve the review process were built directly into the 2004-09 Framework document and represent institutionalization of our diversity planning. These items included a timetable for activities within the planning cycle, assessment questions, and specific "Targeted Areas for Improvement" for each Challenge. Also, the wording of Challenge 5 was modified to keep it in line with the terminology in the General Education requirements.

The review of unit diversity strategic plans under the 2004-09 Framework was conducted concurrently with the final review of the 1998-2003 unit updates in spring 2004. The midpoint assessment of implementation was conducted in spring 2007 and the resulting analysis led to development of this current 2010-15 Framework plan to facilitate further University progress. The final assessment of the 2004-09 Framework updates will be conducted in spring 2010.


Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity
314 Old Main,
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814) 865-5906, Fax: (814) 865-3997