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Overview and History

 

The University's third diversity strategic plan, A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State: 2010-15, was created from planning activities that began in 1994. During that year, each Penn State strategic planning unit (academic colleges, academic support units, and University Libraries) was asked to prepare a diversity strategic plan to promote greater equity for its faculty, staff, and students. Analysis of the plans by the University Planning Council (UPC) led to the conclusion that in order to attain its diversity goals Penn State needed to adopt a more systematic and systemic approach. The UPC recommended a comprehensive University-wide diversity plan to guide institutional and unit-specific efforts to help bring about multicultural transformation at Penn State. This recommendation resulted in the development of A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State: 1998-2003, the University's first diversity strategic plan. The 1998-2003 Framework outlined seven Challenges that needed to be met in order to promote diversity as an essential component of Penn State's quest for greater excellence. As defined in the 1998-2003 Framework, these were:

  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 Supports the Goals of our New General Education Plan
  6. Diversifying University Leadership and Management
  7. Coordinating Organizational Change to Support out Diversity Goals


In order to gauge Penn State's progress toward implementing the 1998-2003 Framework, an assessment project was initiated. In 2001, at the midpoint of the diversity strategic planning cycle, each strategic planning unit was asked to submit an update report on their progress toward each Challenge. To guide the assessment process and provide some consistency among update reports, units were asked a series of questions, which were tied to the seven Challenges, about their diversity endeavors since 1998. Four review teams were formed to evaluate each update and provide feedback reports to each strategic planning unit.

The review teams were carefully composed to be representative of broad constituencies across the University. Teams were chaired by deans, chancellors, and other prominent administrators or faculty members. Review team membership included faculty, staff, students, and administrators, including representatives from the Commission for Women, Commission on Racial/Ethnic Diversity, Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Equity, University Faculty Senate, campuses, and diversity student organizations. Each team was staffed by a representative from Educational Equity to coordinate consistency of the procedures, approach, and tone across all the teams and to ensure the highest emphasis on the integrity of the process and the results.

The review teams made candid and thorough evaluations. Best practices were also identified from among the initiatives and programs described by the units.

Rodney Erickson, executive vice president and provost, and W. Terrell Jones, vice provost for Educational Equity, met with each budget executive (academic deans, campus executive officers, and budget executives of academic support units) to discuss their respective update report, the review team's feedback report, and overall progress. Budget executives were given the opportunity to supplement their feedback report with responses to points raised by the review team and to revise their update based on the observations and recommendations made by the team and their discussion with the provost and vice provost. The final versions of the update reports and review team feedback reports with responses from budget executives were posted to the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity website, along with the identified best practices (please see the bottom of this Web page for a list of links to various websites that pertain to the Framework).

A similar review process was initiated at the end of the 1998-2003 Framework planning period. (This process was conducted simultaneously with the evaluation of 2004-09 diversity strategic plans, as discussed below.) Strategic planning units submitted their final 1998-2003 Framework update reports, which again were evaluated by review teams and followed up by discussions with each budget executive, Provost Erickson, and Vice Provost Jones. Strategic planning units could respond to points raised in their feedback reports, but units were not given the opportunity to revise their final 1998-2003 update report. Again, best practices were identified, 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." The final 1998-2003 update reports, review team feedback reports with responses from strategic planning units, and best practices compilation were posted to the Educational Equity website.

In 2003, A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State: 2004-09, Penn State's second diversity strategic plan, was developed, which built upon the foundation of the first Framework. The 2004-09 Framework retained the seven Challenges as a concrete roadmap for achieving Penn State's diversity goals, and it also positioned them within the context of four dimensions of diversity that current scholarship suggests must be addressed in higher education.

Campus Climate and Intergroup Relations

  1. Developing a Shared and Inclusive Understanding of Diversity
  2. Creating a Welcoming Campus Climate

    Representation (Access and Success)
  3. Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Student Body
  4. Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce

    Education and Scholarship
  5. Developing a Curriculum That Fosters Intercultural and International Competencies

    Institutional Viability and Vitality
  6. Diversifying University Leadership and Management
  7. Coordinating Organizational Change to Support Our Diversity Goals


The 2004-09 Framework summarized progress made during the 1998-2003 Framework planning period and identified targeted areas for improvement under each Challenge. Challenge Five was expanded to address curricular integration at all levels while emphasizing the general education requirement of intercultural and international competencies. Also, a timeline and questions for the midpoint and final assessment of progress were included in the plan. A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State: 2004-09 was presented to the University community in December 2003.

Preliminary copies of the 2004-09 Framework were provided to budget executives at presentations to the Academic Leadership Council and President's Council in September 2003, and strategic planning units were asked to submit their 2004-09 diversity strategic plans in accordance with the 2004-09 Framework. These plans were evaluated in a simultaneous process with the assessment of the 1998-2003 Framework final reports (as discussed above) including the development of feedback reports by review teams and the meetings with each budget executive, the provost, and vice provost. Each strategic planning unit was given the opportunity to respond to the feedback report on their 2004-09 plan and to make revisions to their plan. The final 2004-09 diversity strategic plans, review team feedback reports with responses from strategic planning units, and best practices compilation were posted to Educational Equity's website.

In 2007, at the midpoint of the 2004-09 Framework planning cycle, a review was conducted. Due to University reorganizations that increased the number of strategic planning units significantly, five review teams were convened. In addition to their candid and thorough evaluations of the unit updates, the review teams were asked to offer their observations and suggestions regarding broad themes of progress, ongoing challenges, and opportunities for improvement. Best practices were also identified from among the initiatives and programs described by the units. The best practices were analyzed to identify overarching themes that emerged as essential to effective planning, assessment, and reporting.

Penn State begins its third cycle of diversity strategic planning in A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State: 2010-15 . Given the progress fostered through the previous decade of diversity strategic planning, it was clear that the seven Challenges continue to be our best means for guiding multicultural transformation and will likely remain so for some time. The Challenges also continue to be embedded within the four dimensions of diversity. Challenge 5 has been updated to reflect the current language established by the University Faculty Senate and continues to pertain to curriculum at all levels.

Campus Climate and Intergroup Relations

1. Developing a Shared and Inclusive Understanding of Diversity
2. Creating a Welcoming Campus Climate

Representation (Access and Success)

3. Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Student Body
4. Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce

Education and Scholarship

5. Developing a Curriculum That Fosters Intercultural and International Competencies

Institutional Viability and Vitality

6. Diversifying University Leadership and Management
7. Coordinating Organizational Change to Support Our Diversity Goals


It was also clear that our approach to planning and assessment could be further refined. Shifting focus away from micro-level reporting in favor of demonstrating macro-level progress in achieving goals for each Challenge represents the next level of advancement.

The basic approach of the Framework has been strengthened and updated in several important ways:

  • A more streamlined approach to unit diversity strategic plans, with an emphasis on concrete action plans that are clear and succinct. One option would be to structure planning and monitoring through use of a matrix or table format.
  • A more streamlined approach to unit progress updates with fewer assessment questions. This approach will help to condense narrative reporting and allow for greater emphasis on the unit's update to its individual unit plan.
  • A clearer distinction between operational reporting (detailed explanation of all processes and programs) and strategic planning (targeting specific processes and initiatives for improvement), with a stronger emphasis on strategies for future accomplishment and reporting progress toward those specific planning goals.
  • A greater emphasis on assessment, calling for performance indicators and measures of success that focus on achievements that contribute to advancing specific Framework Challenges.

The 2010-15 Framework encourages plans and reports that are more streamlined and focus on coordinated goals, strategies, and expected outcomes. Long narratives that provide numerous details on many facets of the unit's diversity work may not be as useful as a clear and succinct presentation through a table format. One goal for the new plan is to help units avoid "project-itis," which is focusing on activity as an end in itself; instead, the emphasis should be on measurable outcomes for signature programs along with assessing progress toward the overall Challenge. To foster these goals in progress reports, units will no longer be asked to answer several assessment questions tailored to each Challenge. Instead, three questions will be posed under each Challenge:

  1. Taking into account the unit's and University's history with this Challenge, the targeted areas for improvement as they apply to your unit, and your unit's diversity strategic plan and general strategic plan, what progress have you made toward this Challenge during this reporting period?
  2. What measures of success or strategic indicators gauge your progress toward this Challenge? What specific data in relation to these measures and indicators demonstrate your progress?
  3. Among the strategies you have employed to make progress with this Challenge, which specific approaches are considered your "signature" initiatives and which could be termed "best practices"? (Best practices are 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.) Describe these signature and/or best practice initiatives, the metrics by which their success is gauged, and the measurable outcomes.


These questions are intended to prompt units to focus on assessing outcomes and best practices.

In the spring of 2010, the University again undertook a concurrent review of final updates under the 2004-09 Framework and the new plans submitted by each strategic planning unit for the 2010-15 planning cycle. The provost and vice provost for Educational Equity met with each unit executive to discuss their progress thus far and their plans for the current planning cycle. Best practices were identified, compiled, and analyzed for overarching themes representing progress. All unit final progress updates for the 2004-09 planning period, plans for the 2010-15 period, review team feedback and unit responses on each, as well as best practices and an analysis and next steps were posted to Educational Equity's website.

Framework Websites and PDF files:

A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State: 2010-15

A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State: 2010-15 - [ PDF ]

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

A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State: 2004-09 - [ PDF]

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

A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State: 1998-2003 - [ PDF]

Framework Best Practices

Framework Review and Planning Updates for the current 2010-15 Framework cycle

Framework Review and Planning Updates for the 2004-2009 cycle

Framework Review and Planning Updates for the 1998-2003 cycle


Any questions or comments about the materials posted for a given strategic planning unit should be directed to that unit.