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From the President, Provost and Executive Vice President

Update on Diversity Initiatives

For the PDF version of this document, click here.

Last spring we received the recommendations made by the Ad Hoc Committee on Safety in a Diverse Environment. The committee’s recommendations focused on three major goals:

(1) creating opportunities for candid and consistent communication between the Division of Public Safety (DPS) and the Penn community, particularly the minority community;

(2) developing creative opportunities for community members to establish more positive,   enduring relationships with officers from DPS; and

(3) expanding diversity training and accountability. 

In the past year, we have made genuine progress in realizing the University’s goals in these areas. For a complete report on specific actions taken, we urge you to read the status of the recommendations, www.upenn.edu/almanac/v52/n29/diversity-actions.html.

In addition to our activities in these areas,we have introduced new efforts to further the full promise of diversity in our community. For instance, we have worked to strengthen faculty recruitment and retention practices; to expand and strengthen pipeline programs; to improve the quality of the student experience; and to support the needs of our staff.

At the same time, we will advance our efforts to “foster an environment in which all members of the Penn community can flourish, feel safe and achieve mutual respect.” This update is not intended to be comprehensive, but rather to focus on those initiatives that are new or that will be underway shortly.

This report provides an overview of the ways in which we have been able to implement tangible change in order to promote a climate on our campus that advances mutual respect, inclusion and integration. We proceed with our diversity efforts within a challenging national context. For example, last month the Supreme Court upheld an existing law, called the Solomon Amendment, which denies federal funding to schools that do not provide equal access to military recruiters on campus. While we will abide by the law, we will respectfully voice our opposition to a policy that discriminates against members of our community on grounds of sexual orientation.

While we do not underestimate the need to continue working across all boundaries to create an even more welcoming, inclusive environment, we are pleased to conclude that ours is a campus that dares to imagine a more successfully integrated society and then works hard to turn that vision into reality. We acknowledge with gratitude that none of the work reported here would have been possible without the talent, energy and passion of our students; the leadership and wisdom of our faculty; and the commitment and excellence of our staff.

If after reading this update you have comments, or suggestions, we welcome them. Please forward them to climate@pobox.upenn.edu.

Amy Gutmann, President

Ronald Daniels, Provost

Craig Carnaroli, Executive Vice President

Faculty Initiatives

A number of initiatives are being planned that will support the recruitment and retention of a diverse faculty and student body. We will publish a detailed update on our activities that flow from the recommendations of the Minority Equity Report in the fall. At this time, we are pleased to provide the following brief update of selected activities.

• We are gathering data about minority recruitment and retention practices within each school. We are benchmarking Penn’s minority recruitment and retention strategies against best practices in our 12 schools and against the best practices of our peer institutions. This will assist the academic leadership of each of the schools in considering appropriate modifications to existing policies and practices designed to improve our recruitment and retention activities. 

• We are working collaboratively with the Faculty Senate to establish new University-wide guidelines on mentoring of junior faculty. We are also undertaking a literature review on mentoring across difference (e.g. race, gender, class, generations.) The Provost’s Office will work closely with the Deans to ensure that appropriate policies and programs are implemented in all 12 schools in response to this program.

• Commencing this fall, we will design and offer workshops to interested colleagues on best practices for academic searches, enhancing diversity, and faculty mentoring. We will also create a website to share resources on faculty development, mentoring and methods to enhance diversity.

• We have undertaken a review of our academic personnel policies and made a number of changes to enhance our family-friendly policies. These changes permit faculty members to take leaves of absence to accommodate childcare or elder care needs, accommodate extension of the tenure timeline to accommodate childbirth, and provide clarification of our maternity leave policy.

• The Graduate School of Education (GSE) announced a $100,000 faculty grant competition explicitly aimed at seeding research on race and education. The “GSE Faculty Grant Fund for the Study of Race in Education” will study race-related issues in education as a necessary component of understanding urban education and some of the most important social questions that bear on it.

• In the School of Medicine (SOM), the Senior Associate Dean and the Director for Diversity and Community Outreach have met with each of the department chairs to discuss their progress with enhancing faculty diversity, compared with similar departments nationally. Discussions include departmental plans to develop strategies for and assistance with recruitment, development, promotion, and retention of underrepresented faculty.

• The Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) has appointed a Faculty Diversity Committee charged with expanding the pool of qualified candidates by identifying minority faculty candidates in a wide range of fields and interdisciplinary areas. As part of the Committee’s outreach efforts, it will seek the advice of senior minority scholars across the country in an effort to develop stronger recruitment networks with SAS departments. To spearhead these activities, the Committee will run a lecture series of senior Latino scholars who have been identified with the help of SAS faculty in a variety of fields. 

Student Programs

Based on the results of the Early Decision process, we look forward to a terrific Class of 2010. We are also pleased to see that the overall number of applications for all four undergraduate programs has increased in almost every category including from applicants who are minorities or international students. We have experienced a 25 percent increase in applications from African American/Black students while applications from Hispanic students have risen 17 percent. Overall, applications from students of color have increased by 18 percent.

Beginning next fall, Penn students will benefit from a number of new initiatives launched this past year in our effort to continue to increase access and build a welcoming climate for all. In particular:

• We have recently announced that students from economically disadvantaged families with yearly incomes of $50,000 or less will now receive grants in place of loans in their financial aid packages. We expect that this will enhance our ability to attract applicants from diverse economic backgrounds.

• We will have tripled the amount of space available at the ARCH for the Cultural Resource Centers and student coalitions once Student Performing Arts moves to the Performing Arts House next year. Additionally, VPUL has begun to implement suggested changes to make the ARCH a more visible, comfortable and accessible space. Those changes include new exterior banners to make the resource centers more visible and new internal directories and improved lighting, furniture and other internal enhancements to create a space that is welcoming to all Penn students.

• We have increased support for the PACE Program by providing stable term funding, which will enable the Greenfield Intercultural Center to be even more effective in fostering engagement at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional level—across both domestic and international cohort groups—and in bringing students together through a specific “PACE PLUS” program that is a five-year term project.

• We are committed to funding initiatives in collaboration with the Cultural Resource Centers to promote engaged community interaction beginning in the fall of 2006.  This funding will support events sponsored by each of the umbrella coalition groups that promote interaction and engagement across diverse audiences.

• Career Services has developed a number of programs this academic year in support of the division’s and the University’s diversity initiatives.  Specific successful programs in 2005-2006 include increased internship opportunities for underrepresented and other disadvantaged students, and dealing with challenges in a job search, focused on issues for students with disabilities.

 • Dr. Matt Tominey, a nationally recognized leader in the provision of services for students with disabilities, was recently hired as director of Student Disabilities Services. The Office has been engaged in a comprehensive study of barriers for people with disabilities and is working to make the campus more accessible.

• In cooperation with the Undergraduate Assembly Steering Committee, we have launched the “Spotlight Series” in which each of the more than 20-member umbrella groups highlight, once a year, one event and all of the other groups help publicize and strongly encourage their own cohort group to attend the event/activity.

• We have adopted two new policies for Ph.D. students to accommodate childbirth for graduate student mothers and provide an opportunity for a leave of absence for the birth or adoption of a child, for childcare, or for care of an immediate family member (spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent) with a serious health condition.

• The School of Design Black Student Alliance (BSA) was established by students this year. The BSA is assisting with recruitment and retention efforts by hosting “round tables” during its Open House for new students and coffee hours for current students throughout the academic year.

• The School of Nursing appointed a Master Teachers Taskforce (MTT) to address issues of culture competence in programs of study. The MTT designed a Blueprint for Cultural Competence Integration in the Curriculum. The blueprint has been used as a framework for identifying aspects of culture competence for faculty to address in their courses, depending on their area of expertise. The learning experience for students consists of  1) didactic knowledge/informationkey concepts, issues in health  disparities, clinical decision making and related research; 2) skill acquisitione.g. eliciting a cross cultural health history and 3) self awareness and sensitivity-awareness of one’s biases and beliefs.

• The Wharton School created an annual discussion series, “Cases of Diversity” addressing diversity in business settings.  Discussions are held for 90 minutes and are led by some of Wharton’s most prominent faculty.  Most recently, Diversity Case Day was held on Monday, April 3, and the discussion was led by Dr. Franklin Allen, Nippon Life Professor of Finance; Professor of Economics. 

Pipeline Programs for Prospective Students

We are developing mentoring and recruitment policies for undergraduates and graduate students to enhance the pipeline into the academy. Included among these new initiatives:

• We are conducting a complete review of our pipeline programs and will recommend modifications that would strengthen our ability to reach underrepresented minorities, economically disadvantaged students and others who have been traditionally underrepresented in the academy.

• We are establishing a new summer pipeline program designed to encourage promising underrepresented high school students, including economically disadvantaged students and students from other diverse groups, to prepare for and consider post secondary education.  At the present time, we are in discussions with the School District of Philadelphia. These programs will be school-based and for this inaugural year, three schools are in the process of planning new programs.

• We have developed a partnership with Sayre High School in West Philadelphia. Coordinated by the Center for Community Partnerships, current efforts at Sayre include the Sayre Health Promotion Disease Prevention Program, Sayre-Beacon extended day and community school, the Urban Nutrition Initiative, and Access Science. The Sayre Health Promotion Disease Prevention Program includes Penn’s Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dental Medicine, Design, Social Policy and Practice, and Arts and Sciences.

• We have reinstated the “Communiversity program,” now known as College Days, inviting area young people and their parents/guardians to campus to learn about our admissions and financial aid programs. This program gives area middle school youth an opportunity to see first-hand the broad spectrum of college life at Penn.

• We launched a pilot initiative, appointing Diversity Fellows in the SON and GSE to work with faculty to develop new outreach initiatives.  The SON Diversity Fellow developed a web-based resource (Saber Cómo) for the Hispanic community that places all of the information an applicant might need in one convenient place. The SON Diversity Fellow also worked this year to create new channels of communication with existing organizations on Penn’s campus for retention of Hispanic graduate students, resulting in the recent formation of LaGAPSA. The Diversity Fellow at GSE helped mount a conference last fall with education leaders from several historically Black Colleges and Universities, as a point of departure for development of a faculty and student exchange. 

• The School of Social Policy and Practice is poised to initiate a pipeline project with Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) that will identify promising students at CCP and assist them in obtaining a BSW and then enroll in the school’s MSW program. This initiative will be aimed at underrepresentive minority and economically disadvantaged populations.

• In the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), students and faculty worked with West Philadelphia High School in the FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology) Program. SEAS students and faculty collaborated with West Philadelphia students to prepare and enter their robot into the FIRST national competition that was held recently at Drexel University. The GRASP Lab was integrally involved in this project.

• In the Law School, the Admissions office has worked closely with students of color groups to matriculate admitted students. Recent efforts in this area include student involvement in phonathons and email campaigns to entice accepted students to Penn Law.

• In the Annenberg School for Communication, the Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies attended a number of graduate fairs specifically geared towards diversity initiatives, including the Washington, D.C. Area Universities Fair, and the California Forum for Diversity in Sacramento. 

• The School of Dental Medicine plans to initiate a series of “lunch and learn” events in partnership with three School of Dental Medicine organizations: Student National Dental Association (SNDA), Student Hispanic Dental Association (SHDA) and the American Student Dental Association (ASDA). By bringing in practicing dentists from the community to meet with its students, the school will increase awareness of particular specialties as well as facilitate mentorship.

• The School of Veterinary Medicine now provides underrepresented minority mentors for the Pre-Health Professions Mentors Program and also provides shadowing experiences with alumni for the program.

Staff Development

At Penn, our staff members provide invaluable support and continuity to our community and also reflect its diverse nature.  Strong hiring practices allow us to capitalize on the rich pool of talent and energy in our surrounding community.  Included among our new staff initiatives:

• Last year, the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs developed specific training and education programs for staff in Complaint Procedures, Office of Affirmative Action and Diversity at Penn, Creating a Respectful Workplace, Common Ground: Promoting a Respectful Workplace, and Sexual Harassment Awareness. It will expand upon these course offerings in 2006 with two new diversity-related programs: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for Faculty and ADA for Managers.

• Penn’s Economic Inclusion Committee has partnered with Human Resources to lead ongoing initiatives for construction contracting, procurement and staff recruitment to promote economic inclusion for major area institutions. These efforts are aimed at increasing the employment of West Philadelphia residents, minorities and women in various positions within the University or with our vendors.

• We have partnered with UniqueAdvantage (a minority and women owned business) as our sole source provider of Temporary Services.  33 percent of its employees are from West and Southwest Philadelphia, which serves as an important resource for recruitment. In collaboration with UniqueAdvantage, we continue to develop relationships with faith-based and civic organizations to assist with recruiting diverse applicants. 

• We have attended numerous job fairs including those sponsored by organizations such as the NAACP, the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations Inc. (Concilio) and the Chamber of Commerce to recruit candidates. We also continue to intensify our community development efforts through collaboration with Workforce Development and training organizations in West and Southwest Philadelphia.

• We recently hired a new Senior Recruiter with extensive experience in diversity recruiting. A diversity resource manual is being developed to assist the development of best practices and to facilitate outreach to minority businesses, professional associations, colleges, universities and faith-based organizations.

• We are developing a program to sponsor and maintain a roster of available skilled workers from the West Philadelphia and Southwest Philadelphia area by creating an apprenticeship program in cooperation with unions and major contractors. The program will accept 20-25 community participants per year. The “Diversity Apprenticeship Program” will provide training and support services to participants to gain entry into the trades. We will work with organizations such as the West Philadelphia Partnership, faith-based institutions, West Philadelphia Coalition, Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity, and other community-based associations and officials to identify potential program candidates.

As we celebrate the 125th anniversary of the graduation of Dr. James Brister from the School of Dental Medicine (our first known graduate of color), it is fitting that we publicly re-commit to advancing diversity and community. We have made real progress, but there is still more that must be accomplished. We look forward to working with all members of the University community on this important priority.

The following chart provides an update on the status of selected recommendations from the Ad Hoc Committee on Safety in a Diverse  Environment which were published in March 2005.

Status of the Recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee on Safety in a Diverse Environment


University Response

Explore ways to use the College Houses more effectively, e.g. create separate break-out discussions on racial issues. These sessions should begin early & continue throughout the academic year. These conversations, when combined with other University initiatives, offer the opportunity to address issues in a more holistic way.

Each College House has developed multiple programs during the current academic year, including “When Words Hurt”; a forum on “Race and Poverty” relevant to Hurricane Katrina; the adoption of a village in Ghana; and numerous other programs throughout this academic year.

A UPPD detective has been assigned to serve as a liaison between the Division of Public Safety (DPS) and each of the College House Faculty Masters and Deans.  The liaison works to provide information about new DPS initiatives and responds to questions or concerns about safety on or around campus.

Encourage the minority coalitions, class officers, athletic teams, etc., to update the community about relevant issues with DPS, as needed. Encourage the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly to do the same for the graduate and professional student population.

During spring 2005, senior administrators from VPUL met with minority coalition leaders, class officers, cultural center directors, Undergraduate Assembly (UA) representatives, Graduate and Professional Student (GAPSA) representatives, athletes and other student leaders to encourage candid/consistent communication—this process was repeated in the fall of 2005 and spring 2006.

VPUL cultural resource centers and minority coalitions planned and executed events on safety, security and campus climate. They also worked directly with DPS to continue collaborations that contribute to meaningful and positive relationships between DPS & minority students during the 2006 academic year.

Develop a “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) publication regarding police procedures and protocols to be shared with the Penn community and published in The Daily Pennsylvanian, and in Almanac, as well as other newspapers and newsletters. Post the FAQs on minority coalition websites and the DPS website.

DPS is working with the Student Leadership Consultation Group (comprised of approximately 50 student leaders from several student organizations including the Black Graduate and Professional Students Assembly (BGAPSA), GAPSA, the United Minorities Council (UMC), and the UA to develop FAQs which will be posted on the DPS website in the spring of 2006.

In the fall of 2005, DPS placed three advertisements in The Daily Pennsylvanian that described DPS departments and safety services.

Develop a partnership between DPS and Penn resource centers and student organizations to spread the word about DPS/community outreach initiatives.

Each center has a DPS liaison who has received an orientation to the center and who works to provide information about new DPS initiatives and who responds to questions or concerns about safety on or around campus. 

The cultural centers have also included their advisory boards in these important discussions about communications with and between DPS administration and VPUL staff.  Makuu has appointed a DPS staff member to its advisory board.

Improve continuity of interactions and communications from year to year between the community and DPS. This can be accomplished, in part, through surveys, brochures, and videotapes.

In the fall of 2005, DPS began conducting customer service surveys as a means of obtaining feedback on services performed by various departments in DPS (UPPD, Special Services, PennComm, and Security and Technology Services). As of March 2006, 96% of the respondents rated the services rendered by DPS in the highest three categories.

DPS will continue to reach out to student groups on a regular basis and collaborate with them on a student safety survey.  The survey will be available on line by the fall of 2006.

Continue to introduce police officers to all of the resource centers on campus. Develop useful information about our student population to share with them. Develop and distribute information describing the mission of each of the minority coalition groups to be shared with all members of DPS.

All new UPPD officers are introduced to the staff and advisory boards of Penn’s resource centers.

Last fall, VPUL developed and launched a new video about the cultural centers and our minority student coalitions which is available upon its divisional website and on DVD.  VPUL worked closely with the cultural center directors and minority student coalitions to produce the video.

Create small group sessions including the Vice President for Public Safety, Penn’s Chief of Police, other officers and student groups. Videotape a small group session between students and the police which could then be used for wider dissemination.

DPS has conducted the following Town Hall meetings with specific groups to increase accessibility and communication:

Undergraduate Assembly, November 1, 2005

PanHellenic Council, November 14, 2005

Graduate and Professional Student Association, November 16, 2005

Open Community Town Hall at Harrison House, November 17, 2005

IFC on March 20, 2006

DPS will continue to schedule town hall meetings periodically throughout 2006.

Each of the constituency groups represented by the minority coalitions will develop programming that will contribute towards a meaningful and positive relationship between DPS and minority students.

VPUL cultural center directors worked actively with the minority coalitions to implement the next phase of this programming during the 2005-2006 academic year. In addition, all VPUL cultural centers and coalitions sponsored initiatives and events in Spring 2005.

Conduct periodic surveys of our students, faculty and staff to measure levels of comfort and frequency of social interactions among diverse groups as well as gauge reaction to DPS. Develop this survey instrument in consultation with the key stakeholders as well as expert survey professionals.

Questions will be added to the COFHE Senior Survey which will be administered this spring as a first step in achieving this objective.

Utilize the DPS Advisory Board Subcommittee on Training to assess training outcomes and regularly report to the community.

The DPS Advisory Subcommittee on Training is currently working on assessing training outcomes from the spring 2005 training entitled The Power of Inclusion: Leveraging Diversity to Create a More Unified Community.  Findings and recommendations will be reported through various forums including University Council, the DPS Advisory Board, and Almanac.

For the complete list of Recommendations and Responses, please visit www.upenn.edu/almanac/v52/n29/diversity-actions.html.



  Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 29, April 11, 2006


April 11, 2006
Volume 52 Number 29


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