Academic Year 2021-2022

Results of the funded programs


APS Site Visit (University Park)

PSU physics, including students, staff, postdocs and faculty at the commonwealth campuses and UP, are undertaking a number of diversity-related initiatives in order improve climate and strengthen our community. Those efforts always point back to a need to understand where we currently are. We propose to take advantage of the Site Visit program of the American Physical Society (APS) in order to receive a professional outside appraisal of the environment experienced by members of groups traditionally underrepresented in our community and a constructive critique of our efforts to date and moving forward.

ARISE at Penn State: Anthropological Research in Science Education (University Park)

Anthropological Research in Science Education (ARISE) at Penn State is a proposed summer institute in integrated anthropological sciences. The program seeks to promote a broader and more effective use of the University Park Anthropology Department’s resources (faculty and labs) by providing training for students from historically underrepresented and underserved groups across all Penn State campuses. Working intensively each summer with 20-25 students interested in pursuing anthropological research, ARISE will train students in: - theoretical approaches to solving anthropological problems - methods to collect and analyze anthropological data - ethics and historical background to the discipline - applications of anthropological sciences in and beyond academia.

Brandywine Student (PAL-Peer Assistance & Leadership) Peer Mentoring Program (Brandywine)

Brandywine’s Chancellor’s Commission on Empowering Women will establish a Student Peer Mentoring initiative that will incorporate mentoring into First Year Seminars and build learning support communities. A 3-year program will be established. Program will focus on assisting first year students to understand college and student support resources. Student groups will be established with a peer mentor and faculty/staff or alumni mentor. Goals include building a coalition of peer mentors who empower women, increasing retention for women, all people of color and first-generation students, and supporting investigation and certainty in students’ choice of major at the conclusion of their first year.

BRIDGE to Graduate School for Communication Sciences and Disorders Majors from Diverse Backgrounds (University Park)

The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) proposes a program, BRIDGE, for the 2021-2022 academic year to begin to address the problem of lack of diverse representation in the fields of speech-language pathology and audiology and the related difficulty undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds have with competing for acceptance to graduate programs. This program will build a bridge for these students from their undergraduate programs to acceptance and successful completion of a graduate program by providing academic tutoring from CSD master’s students, mentoring from CSD alumni, mentoring in research from CSD faculty, and provision of professional education opportunities.

Celebrating Women in Energy Research Seminar Series (University Park)

We propose to initiate a seminar series to celebrate women conducting energy research in academia and the industry. The objective of this program is twofold: (i) engage undergraduate women students in research activities to enhance retention and promote academic and research-related careers among them; (ii) provide opportunities to women faculty to establish and nurture their professional network and mentoring relationships. The impacts of the project include (i) encouragement and inspiration to pursue research careers in energy, particularly for undergraduate students, and (ii) faculty retention by creating experiences that decrease isolation and provide an effective means of networking women researchers.

Cultural Competency Training for Peer Support Professionals (Beaver)

Peer support specialists are people with lived experience of mental illness or substance use disorder and recovery who are formally involved in providing support services to peers. “Diversity, equity, and inclusion” has been a key organizing principle in both peer services and the recovery movement. Cultural competency is critical for engaging and supporting others in recovery. Penn State Beaver will provide training and continuing education hours to Certified Recovery Specialists, Certified Peer Specialist, and Certified Family Recovery Specialist credentialed through the Pennsylvania Certification Board (PCB) to improve their personal and cultural experience as peer specialists.

Curriculum Development of New Gen Ed Courses on Black Culture and Artistry (University Park)

The Center for the Performing Arts (CPA) at Penn State proposes to develop four permanent, general education, interdomain courses that celebrate and highlight Black performing arts. A faculty team will distribute a call for proposals and will work with chosen course authors to ensure academic rigor, promote racial equity and social justice, and engender inclusion and belonging for all students through the developed curriculum. The CPA will curate artists for its seasons that will visit these classes each semester they are taught. Additionally, the CPA proposes a series of artist-led anti-racism workshops to be offered fall and spring semesters.

Developing critical literacies and equity-based instructional capacities of First Year Seminar instructors (University Park)

The purpose of our project is to pilot a professional development program for faculty to develop skills and provide resources for implementation of antiracist, equity-based instruction in our College’s First Year Seminars (FYS). We will build faculty capacity for equity-based teaching by engaging in learning and analysis of how identities and assumptions create biases and influence teaching methods. Workshops will be complemented with modeling of instructional approaches and opportunities for peer observation and reflection. A web-based repository of materials will be created to allow a broader group of faculty to benefit from this work. Potential for multiplier effects is high as we seek to change the instructional capacities of all instructors who teach FYS and thus, with impacts upon all students entering in the College, as well as the long-term plan of replication across the University system.

Diverse Student Champion Program (Hershey)

The Penn State College of Medicine’s Diverse Student Champion Program serves students considered Underrepresented in Medicine (UiM) by pairing them with diverse faculty, alumni, and/or senior resident mentors (champions) to provide professional support, allow learners to make connections with a variety of health care professionals, and assist them in navigating the landscape that is particular to diverse learners in the medical community. Through the Champion Program, Penn State College of Medicine will create and sustain a nurturing environment that supports and retains UiM learners studying medicine, ultimately contributing to the diversification of the healthcare workforce.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in International Affairs Admissions (University Park)

The School of International Affairs (SIA) proposes a new marketing and recruitment strategy to increase Black and African American student enrollment. In 2020, SIA developed Concrete Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Action Steps, and one step is to “Develop additional admissions strategies to increase the number of Black students in SIA.” In support of this action step, SIA is implementing new recruitment strategies to increase diversity within the program. SIA students discuss challenging issues facing the world. Therefore, varying perspectives and cultural awareness is critical.

Empow(h)er Symposium for Music of Women Composers and Performers (University Park)

In April 2019 Empow(h)er featured a panel discussion with four School of Music women faculty addressing experiences as women in the business of music. A concert followed of music by women composers featuring student and faculty instrumentalists and choirs. The event was programmed in response to the continued, significant worldwide disparity between the number of compositions performed by women compared to men. This disparity is starting to be addressed more intentionally such as at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London who recently required equal representation in all concerts performed by college performers and ensembles.

Executive Group Coaching for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (University Park)

Alumni Career Services of the Smeal College of Business partnered with a women minority-owned firm in 2018-2020 to offer digital group coaching as a professional development opportunity for alumni of the college. A certified executive coach worked exclusively with six people over six weeks to develop skills in strategic impact and well-being in support of a more inclusive workforce. One particular six-week track, Shaping Equality and Inclusion, unlocked their human potential by re-contextualizing their perspectives on DEI. Based on its success, Smeal will offer a full one-year program in 2021-2022 for underrepresented and DEI advocate faculty, staff, and students.

Graduate Alliance on Diversity and Inclusion - Liberal Arts (University Park)

The Graduate Alliance on Diversity and Inclusion (GADI) in the College of the Liberal Arts was established in 2018 to bring graduate students together from across departments in the College to discuss issues of diversity, provide support to students, provide needed education for our community, and build community among graduate students from diverse backgrounds and those interested in issues such as gender, race, sexual orientation, and gender identity. As the program has grown, the time demands for organizing and making progress on GADI initiatives has grown. We seek funding to support a graduate Research Assistant to be assigned to the program

Increasing Inclusion and Belonging in the STEM Professions at Penn State (University Park)

We will develop a program that advances inclusion and belonging for historically underrepresented and marginalized groups within the STEM professions. Historically underrepresented groups for this program include individuals that identify as a member of a racial or ethnic minority (REM) group. We plan for a stepped approach to develop and implement this program over a three-year period. The current funding cycle (AY 2021-2022) will focus on the assessment of underlying dynamics and structures that are leading to differences in experience of inclusion and belonging for individuals that identify as part of a REM group as compared to their white counterparts. Assessment results will inform program development.

The Intercultural Learning Community (ILC) for Adjunct Faculty (Abington)

While resources to engage faculty in learning about equity pedagogy have increased across Penn State campuses, adjunct instructors are often excluded from faculty development opportunities, though not intentionally. We, at Penn State Abington, heavily rely on adjunct instructors, therefore, supporting their development on equity pedagogy is crucial for creating an inclusive classroom environment for underrepresented and underserved groups. This project proposal seeks funding for forming an intercultural learning community (ILC) for adjunct faculty members. Serving as space where participants will examine their approaches to diversity and inclusion in their classrooms, the ILC will help adjunct instructors develop equity-minded teaching practices.

LEAADS@PSU: Dissemination and implementation of best practices of mentors and sponsors in support of faculty success (University Park)

In 2019, a group of women faculty members collaborated to advocate and promote an equitable and supportive climate for women and minoritized faculty members. In 2020, they launched LEAADS@PSU, a group committed to LEading Action and Advocacy for a Diverse leaderShip@PSU. LEAADS@PSU proposes to unite department and program heads to learn, exchange and implement best practices in support of faculty success and career advancement beyond the associate professor rank. The strategic focus on department and program heads builds upon existing mentoring approaches by adding sponsorship, which emphasizes advocating and championing the upward movement, professional development and visibility of faculty members.

Loft Peer Mentor Program (Hazleton)

Our campus proposes to continue to support and develop a diversity and inclusion student peer mentor program, which will work in conjunction with our campus’s existing diversity and inclusion program the Lions of Fusion Territory or “LOFT”. The peer mentor program will: (1) will hire and train three undergraduate peer mentors (2) facilitate diversity and inclusion focused programs designed to support students from frequently marginalized populations, such as LGBTQA+ students, students of color, students with disabilities, (3) create and provide educational resources focused on bringing awareness to the experiences of LGBTQA students, student of color, and students with disabilities.

Men in Medicine (Hershey)

Minorities have been a growing portion of the United States population for decades. However, underrepresentation continues in the field of medicine. Of those underrepresented in medicine (UiM), men constitute an even smaller fraction, particularly black men, with reducing medical school applications as noted by the AAMC in 2015. Reaching these students at a young age makes a considerable impression and can greatly alter their potential careers. This program will expose junior high and high school students (boys and girls) to the medical field through the eyes of minority men, increasing their desire to pursue healthcare careers not previously considered.

Midcareer Faculty Advancement Program (MFAP) (Harrisburg)

The Midcareer Faculty Advancement Program (MFAP) at Penn State Harrisburg is intended to serve as a resource to support the career advancement of midcareer faculty members from underrepresented minority (URM) groups as well as those or those who have demonstrated a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Midcareer faculty members are those who have achieved promotion from early career stage assistant professor to associate professor with tenure. While many faculty members move successfully to the rank of associate professor, the midcareer stage has been a challenge to further advancement, specifically for those from URM groups.

Minorities in Medicine Weekend Retreats (Hershey)

Overall diversity representation in health care is abysmal. The number of Black, Hispanic and Native American students at the College of Medicine (COM) is well below the national average and is not reflective of national diversity as a whole. Current COM students and prior applicants who declined admission indicated that on-site experiences are important to deciding whether to attend. However, financial hardship can be an obstacle to visiting campuses. Minorities in Medicine Weekend Retreats (MiM) eliminate such barriers by subsidizing on-campus visitation while also offering synchronous virtual experiences. Outcomes will highlight the impact of virtual vs. in-person programming on learning, and interest in applying to COM.

Multicultural Student Mentoring Program (Worthington Scranton)

Penn State Scranton proposes to develop a mentoring program to support and prepare incoming underrepresented students for their successful transition to college. This program will retain and sustain students of underrepresented, first generation, and economically disadvantaged backgrounds, but participation is open to all students. However, the primary goal is to support minority groups such as Black, African American, Native American, Asian and/or Latinx. The mentoring program is intended to assist students with their social transition to Penn State Scranton as well as further develop and enhance leadership, soft skills, career readiness and overall academic success.

Pathways to Penn State (P2PSU) Formerly Incarcerated College Awareness Pilot Program (University Park)

Formerly incarcerated students are underrepresented in college, especially those from historically marginalized racial/ethnic and socioeconomic communities. Penn State currently has no programs to recruit and retain formerly incarcerated students. The purpose of the Pathways pilot program is to instill the belief that college, including Penn State, is a viable option for formerly incarcerated adult learners in Pennsylvania, and to provide skills/tools to help make that option a reality. This pilot program is part of a larger project to develop programming that supports the recruitment and retention of formerly incarcerated students at University Park and across the Commonwealth Campuses.

Professional Development Conference for Diversity in STEM (University Park)

Women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) professionals continue to be underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) industries. Connecting new professionals to mentors in industry can greatly increase the likelihood that they will successfully complete their undergraduate STEM degree, and matriculate into corresponding industries. This event will be designed as a conference-style program to connect underrepresented students to industry professionals. The experience should broaden their professional knowledge and network, while empowering attendees to continue their pursuit of STEM careers.

A Renewed African American Festival 2021-22 (University Park)

The PSU African American Music Festival celebrates the music of African Americans and representative composers. Typically occurring in February (Black History Month), it includes performances by faculty, students and guest artists. The festival was created by Dr. Tony Leach, the long-stranding director of the Essence of Joy choir, featured at the conclusion of the Festival. The festival has grown to include African American instrumental music and composers, though programming has been impacted by remote instruction and the transition into Dr. Leach’s retirement. We wish to expand the current programming and increase the number of off-campus participants.

SOARSS – Structured Opportunities for Achieving Resiliency and Success with Sophomores (Lehigh Valley)

The SOARSS (Structured Opportunities for Achieving Resiliency & Success with Sophomores) Program aims to increase the retention of 25 Black and Hispanic sophomores on campus. During COVID-19, freshmen were not afforded an optimal beginning to their college careers; SOARSS will engage them more deeply with PSU-Lehigh Valley and the University. Campus data have revealed that comprehensive work needs to be done to increase the two-year retention rates of underrepresented students. SOARSS will address inequities by creating a structured program of high-impact practices designed to increase resiliency and success in underrepresented sophomore students. Retention-based tracking will validate student achievement.

Toward a More Inclusive Science (University Park)

Towards a More Inclusive Astronomy (TaMIA) is a discussion group within the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics that provides an outlet to discuss issues of diversity, equity, and inclusivity within the field. TaMIA has been very successful, allowing undergraduates, graduates, early professionals, and faculty from diverse backgrounds to interact in a safe environment. The purpose of our proposed program is to establish similar counterspaces within other departments in the Eberly College of Science. These groups currently do not exist, but when established would bolster the environment of inclusivity within the College, a main goal in this unit’s strategic plan.

Towards an Inclusive Research Ecosystem: Enriching Penn State Research with LGBTQ+ Undergraduate and Graduate Researchers (University Park)

It is known that the quality of STEM research increases with the diversity of research groups. It is also well-documented that there are significant barriers to the participation, progress and retention of LGBTQ+ people in STEM research. The purpose of the proposed program is to improve Penn State research by fostering a climate that encourages participation by LGBTQ+ researchers. The program will develop an LGBTQ+ and ally STEM research community. The intent of the proposed program is to increase the number of LGBTQ+ trainees in STEM research groups, and to support and retain them in research training through graduation.

Using Pedagogy to Improve Campus Climate: A Professional Development Series in Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (Fayette, The Eberly Campus)

Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus proposes creating a professional development series for faculty and staff, which will initiate a colloquy on inclusion, diversity, and equity that will (1) augment the participants’ comprehension of these terms in order to put them into practice and assist in personal self-growth (2) introduce new pedagogical strategies that support the integration of these approaches into the curricula, classroom and office setting and (3) identify barriers that restrict underrepresented groups and provide resources to create a more culturally sensitive inclusive campus climate.