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Senior Faculty Mentor

Office of Educational Equity appoints Gilyard Senior faculty mentor - [ Penn State News ]

In line with Penn State's commitment to the excellence and long-term diversity of its faculty, the Senior Faculty Mentor, in collaboration with the Vice Provost for Educational Equity, provides supportive services to tenure-track faculty members belonging to underrepresented racial/ethnic groups to facilitate the attainment of tenure and promotion. Initiatives include one-on-one consultations, including reviews of dossiers regarding faculty members’ professional progress; provision for supplemental funding for faculty members to participate in professional conferences or publish research, thus strengthening cases for tenure and promotion; and networking activities such as receptions, colloquia, and the maintenance of a listserv.

Message from the Senior Faculty Mentor

An appropriately diverse faculty provides a particular mix of pedagogical innovation, scholarly contributions, and social insights that is essential to academically competitive universities and the students they educate. My efforts to further Penn State’s mission in this regard—beyond the basics noted above—involve reviewing past achievements, assessing current conditions, and identifying new prospects. Of course, an indispensable component of my work is the solicitation of faculty input. I will be calling on faculty members and, of course, inviting their comments. Naturally, I possess impulses to express and shape opinion. Ultimately, however, the important vision of an ideal academic community with respect to matters of faculty diversity is not mine alone. The collective, or at least cumulative, perspective of stakeholders has to be considered carefully and conscientiously with an eye toward action agendas. I look forward to working with you in this vital pursuit.

Please continue to check this website for news updates, information items, and formal reports. You will also find here a link to the guidelines to follow and the form to be used when applying for minority faculty development support funds.

The Senior Faculty Mentor is attached organizationally to the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity. Staff support is provided by Eileen Williams, who can be reached at 814-865-5906 or .

About the Senior Faculty Mentor

A native New Yorker and two-time recipient of an American Book Award, Keith Gilyard has passionately embraced African American expressive culture over the course of his career as a poet, scholar, and educator. Beyond his own literary output, he has pursued—and in some instances merged—two main lines of humanistic inquiry: literary studies, with its concern for beauty and significant form, and rhetorical studies, with its emphasis on the effect of trope and argument in culture. Moreover, his interests branch out into popular culture, civic discourse, and educational praxis. A critical perspective concerning these areas is, in his view, integral to the development of discerning and productive publics both on and beyond campuses, and therefore crucial to the optimal practice of democracy. As a faculty member at Medgar Evers College-CUNY, Gilyard helped to establish (1986) the National Black Writers Conference, now convened biennially at that venue. At Syracuse University, he served as director of the Writing Program (1995–1999) and as interim chair of the Department of African American Studies (1996–1997). Upon his arrival at Penn State in 1999, he began planning the seventeenth Penn State Conference on Rhetoric and Composition, which was held during the summer of 2001 around the theme “American Ethnic Rhetorics.” In 2012, he served as chair of the University’s promotion and tenure committee.

Long active in national organizations, Gilyard headed the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) in 2002 and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) in 2012. In addition to producing numerous essays, and lecturing widely, Gilyard has authored, edited, or co-edited seventeen books, including the education memoir Voices of the Self: A Study of Language Competence (1991), Let's Flip the Script: An African American Discourse on Language, Literature, and Learning (1996), Composition and Cornel West: Notes toward a Deep Democracy (2008), John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism (2010), and True to the Language Game: African American Discourse, Cultural Politics, and Pedagogy (2011). 

Keith Gilyard

Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English and African American Studies