Dr. Pearson brings three decades of experience to the State System
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Dr. Denise Pearson, a recognized leader on national education policy, will serve as vice chancellor and chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer for Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education beginning August 3, 2020.
Dr. Pearson will work with stakeholders across the State System to develop a strategy focused on improving the social equity climate and enabling data-driven decision-making in that effort. She will help identify and address student achievement gaps, seek to improve faculty and employee recruitment and retention, and implement policies that will lead to a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive system.
“It is imperative, and a core part of our public mission, that the State System address itself with vigor and purpose to the eradication of inequities while ensuring our university communities are inclusive of all of their students, faculty, and staff," Chancellor Dan Greenstein said. “There is great work already being done on many of our campuses, and I look forward to working with Dr. Pearson to leverage and accelerate that work, and build an equity and inclusion agenda that better reflects our public mandate and historic mission."
Dr. Pearson currently serves as vice president for academic affairs and equity initiatives at the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO).
“I am especially inspired by the commitment of the Board of Governors, the Chancellor, university presidents, and faculty to transform the State System into a leading organization recognized for comprehensively addressing opportunity and achievement gaps, particularly from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, and between students from low- and high-wealth communities," Dr. Pearson said. “As a first-generation college graduate from a historically excluded group, I know firsthand the value and multi-generational impact of higher education. I look forward to embracing the challenges and opportunities ahead."
Dr. Pearson earned her Ph.D. in administration and supervision of education from Marquette University and master's degrees in conflict resolution from the University of Denver and educational administration from Concordia University. Her undergraduate studies were at the State University of New York at Delhi and Pace University.
She comes to the State System with three decades of experience in the classroom and as campus leader, including having served as assistant provost of faculty affairs and then interim dean/senior associate dean of the School of Education and Human Performance at Winston-Salem State University and associate academic dean at the University of Denver.
Dr. Pearson joined SHEEO as a principal policy analyst in 2016 before starting as vice president for academic affairs and equity initiatives in 2018. Her work with SHEEO has involved collaborations with policy leaders across the country, focusing particularly on educational equity, teacher preparation, quality/accreditation, incarcerated populations, and adult learners. She also consults state-level agencies and other higher education institutions on student achievement.
Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education oversees 14 four-year public universities educating more than 95,000 students. The State System offers more than 2,300 degrees and certificates in more than 530 academic areas. The State System universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester universities of Pennsylvania.