Best Practices: Summary Analysis

This compilation of Best Practices and Potential Best Practices highlights practices that were identified by the
2014 Framework Review Teams that evaluated Penn State strategic planning units’ diversity updates and
planning as presented in the 2014–15 through 2018–19 unit strategic plans.

Framework best practices are defined as processes, programs, and procedures that most successfully lead to the unit's ability to reach the University's diversity goals and can be validated through measurable outcomes.
Potential best practices show promise, but do not have substantiating evidence.

The Review Teams developed the list of potential and best practices from those that were self-identified by the unit and from the team’s own evaluation of the unit plan. Cases where substantiating evidence may have been incomplete or where promising initiatives were new were identified as “potential best practices.”

This summary analysis indicates common themes and types of practices that reflect the specific practices identified by the Framework Review Teams. The full compilation of potential and best practices identified by the Review Teams and arranged by Challenge can be found at Best practices for effective incorporation of diversity strategic planning within overall strategic planning can be found in “Characteristics of Effective Diversity Strategic Planning” at

Campus Climate and Intergroup Relations

Challenge 1: Developing a Shared and Inclusive Understanding of Diversity

  • Encourage engagement in diversity work in and beyond the unit.
  • Sustain specific initiatives to create inclusive and differentiated diversity awareness and understanding.
  • Provide comprehensive online resources, contacts, and information for the campus community.
  • Engage in broad communication across multiple audiences reinforcing the benefits of diversity.
  • Recognize diversity as central to excellence.
  • Engage in ongoing discussions of the positive benefits of achieving a culture of inclusive excellence.

Challenge 2: Creating a Welcoming Campus Climate

  • Collaborate across units.
  • Offer scholarly, research, co-curricular and student-leadership opportunities addressing diversity.
  • Offer unit-wide community service/service learning projects.
  • Distribute broadly and ensure easy access to diversity statement and resources information.
  • Offer diversity training and SAFE spaces.
  • Establish unit-wide diversity awards and recognitions.
  • Assess climate using surveys or focus groups.

Representation (Access and Success)

Challenge 3: Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Student Body

  • Sustain initiatives targeted to recruit and retain students from specific diverse populations.
  • Take a holistic approach to supporting students’ needs, specialized advising and support.
  • Collaborate across U.S. and International cultures to foster global engagement and citizenship.
  • Attend to the pipeline through graduate school and beyond, provide research opportunities.
  • Establish community and private sector partnerships.
  • Provide financial support.
  • Sustain bridge programs, transition support, mentorship.

Challenge 4: Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce

  • Sustain initiatives targeted to recruit and retain faculty and staff from specific diverse populations.
  • Establish multilayered process for conducting searches and assessing candidates; include diversity/diversity advocate on search committees; include diversity in onboarding and retention initiatives.
  • Encourage family-friendly and work-life balance policies.
  • Use an “apprenticeship model” for training new hires; mentoring.
  • Foster cross-collaboration among the diversity committee and other departments

Education and Scholarship

Challenge 5: Developing a Curriculum That Fosters U.S. and International Cultural Competencies

  • Support Penn State institutes that cultivate engagement around social justice and human rights issues.
  • Foster collaborative, co-curricular approaches for cross disciplinary teaching and scholarship around a common focus.
  • Partner with external community and professional organizations and other academic institutions.
  • Create more diverse and inclusive curricula through College-level approaches to ensuring diversity as a relevant area of focus within academic programs.
  • Include diversity-related guidelines in the description of core competencies for faculty.

Institutional Viability and Vitality

Challenge 6: Diversifying University Leadership and Management

  • Sustain initiatives to identify, develop, and advance managers and leaders from diverse populations.
  • Sponsor diverse candidates for participation in leadership opportunities.
  • Include diversity expertise and perspectives on leadership bodies, hiring committees, advisory boards, governance bodies, etc.
  • Establish faculty mentoring programs, fellows programs, and succession planning.

Challenge 7: Coordinating Organizational Change to Support Our Diversity Goals

  • Integrate diversity throughout the vision, mission, values, strategic goals, and curriculum.
  • Establish and maintain an office for diversity and inclusion, led by an administrator who actively participates in all areas of the unit’s governance, has oversight to coordinate diversity efforts across the unit, has a direct reporting line to the unit executive, and is part of the leadership team.
  • Identify “intelligent metrics” and strategic indicators; disaggregate data across diverse demographics to identify areas of disparity; use evidence-based decision making; emphasize outcomes; establish accountability for progress.
  • Coordinate central and departmental efforts.
  • Create partnerships focused around urban development, sustainability, business and industry, and other domains that impact diversity and inclusion in society.
  • Establish and maintain an active, well-structured diversity committee to identify and implement specific initiatives, and provide vision for diversity and inclusive excellence.
  • Allocate resources for staffing, budget, space, etc. based on diversity and inclusion needs.
  • Incorporate contributions made in support of the Framework into performance management and tenure and promotion expectations.