A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State, 2004 - 09.
 
Table of Contents

Introduction
Background
A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State: 2004 - 09
Campus Climate and Intergroup Relations
Representation (Access and Success)
Education and Scholarship
Institutional Viability
and Vitality

Conclusion
Appendix 1
Appendix 2
Notes
Framework Main Page

Archive
A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State:
1998 - 03


Printable Version
A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State:
2004 - 09
(PDF 2,606 KB)

Adobe Acrobat Reader


Campus Climate and Intergroup Relations

Challenge 1: Developing a Shared and Inclusive Understanding of Diversity
Positive perceptions of the institution’s commitment to diversity increase positive perceptions of climate; therefore, a comprehensive and collective understanding of the meaning of diversity is required.12 Lacking such an understanding, it is not possible to develop coherent goals related to meeting the Challenges.

The 1998-2003 Framework offered broad guidelines on ways in which diversity could be defined, noting that “we seek to create an environment characterized by equal access and respected participation for all groups and individuals irrespective of cultural differences and, more importantly, where the multiplicity of characteristics possessed by persons are not simply tolerated but valued.”13 Colleges and academic support units used these guidelines to refine definitions that reflected their unique cultures and strategic goals. Definitions varied widely, as might be expected; not all definitions were inclusive, and few units had broad-based strategies for ensuring full understanding through consistent communication.

The roles of diversity committees and college multicultural coordinators also varied widely. While some committees are very active in sharing information about diversity and in making recommendations to the leadership of their units, others are virtually inactive. Similarly, some multicultural coordinators have access to their deans and resources while others function with few resources and without visibility.

Review of the definitions of diversity used across the University indicates that shared and inclusive definitions of diversity have several key elements. These elements are summarized in a paradigm for diversity definitions titled, Developing a Shared and Inclusive Understanding of Diversity.

Targeted Areas for Improvement Include:

• Develop and communicate clear and consistent descriptions of Penn State’s diversity objectives and initiatives.
• Further refine unit definitions and strategies, ensuring that constituent groups have the opportunity for input.
• Develop mechanisms for assessing the degree to which unit members understand their unit’s definition of diversity, strategies to achieve inclusiveness, and University diversity initiatives.
• Reference the unit’s understanding of diversity in official communications.
• Form diversity committees that are well-defined, proactive, sponsor a variety of programs, make appropriate policy recommendations, and use a variety of approaches to communicate within the unit. Ensure that diversity committee membership is representative of constituent units, including students and senior administration.
• Provide adequate resources to the multicultural coordinators in the colleges, including access to college leadership. Efforts to develop a common job description for the coordinators should be supported.
• Actively support the University’s nondiscrimination policy.

Assessment Questions:

  1. How does your unit define or describe diversity? How is this understanding demonstrated in areas of emphasis within your unit?
  2. How has your unit distributed information to students about the University’s diversity initiatives? Does your unit have formal mechanisms in place for discussion of diversity initiatives with students? If so, please describe.
  3. How has your unit distributed information to faculty and staff about the University’s diversity initiatives? Describe your unit’s formal mechanisms for discussion of diversity initiatives.
  4. What is the role of your diversity committee? What is its composition?
  5. What is the role of your multicultural coordinator? (colleges)
  6. Which strategies have been most successful in addressing this Challenge? Which have been least successful? 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.)
  7. What measures of success have you identified to gauge your progress in this Challenge? Include data demonstrating outcomes.

Challenge 2: Creating a Welcoming Campus Climate
In order to address this Challenge, several academic colleges and academic support units conducted diversity climate assessments14 to gather information about constituents’ personal experiences within the unit, perceptions of the climate for underrepresented members, and/or perceptions of unit actions regarding climate issues and concerns. The results of these assessments are useful in identifying specific challenges and positive initiatives. Institutionally, the following initiatives provide visible indications of the University’s commitment to creating a welcoming climate: creating the Report Hate Web site; developing the Zero Tolerance for Hate Support Network; creating a Diversity Advocate position; creating the LGBTA Student Resource Center; progress toward development of a University-wide climate assessment; and creating the Web Ombudsman. Additionally, the Office of Human Resources will conduct a University-wide survey in early 2004 to assess the general climate and employee satisfaction. While the examples provided indicate many notable actions implemented to create a more welcoming climate, units need to continue their work to meet this
challenge.

Targeted Areas for Improvement Include:

• Institute systematic climate improvement initiatives and assessment processes at all levels and locations.
• Develop a structured process for identifying climate issues and developing unit-wide approaches for proactively addressing climate concerns.
• Increase the visibility of resources for underrepresented groups (e.g., returning adult students, disabled persons, international students, members of the LGBT community).
• Create a unit diversity committee.
• Provide a diversity link on the unit’s home page.
• Encourage awareness training for all faculty and staff.
• Include diversity as a criterion in search processes, etc.

Assessment Questions:

  1. How does your unit’s leadership demonstrate support for diversity?
  2. How does your unit identify climate issues?
  3. How does your unit monitor climate?
  4. How does your unit respond to climate issues?
  5. What unit-wide and individualized approaches have you developed to enhance overall climate and individual’s satisfaction with the environment?
  6. Which strategies for creating a welcoming campus climate for diversity have been most successful? Which have been least successful? 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.)
  7. What measures of success have you identified to gauge your progress in this Challenge? Include data demonstrating outcomes.

TOP

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

Statements
of nondiscrimination and alternative media.
Comments about the content of this page can be sent to the Vice Provost for Educational Equity.
Questions regarding web issues should be directed to the Web Coordinator.

U.Ed. OVP 04-11 / Web page last modified December 12, 2005
The Pennsylvania State University.