Greetings PASSHE Community!
As the spring semester ends, it is a wonderful time to pause and recognize students for their perseverance and accomplishments. Congratulations to the class of 2022 for a job well done. We look forward to staying in touch and hearing about all the ways each of you is impacting your communities and the world! Kudos to State System faculty and staff for creating environments for our students to succeed. It takes a village.
Spring PACT Conference
I had the honor of sharing some thoughts about “DEI: Beyond Case-Making” with the Pennsylvania Association of Council of Trustees (PACT) during its spring conference in Hershey. We talked with the trustees about ways they can support State System efforts to foster the success of all students, faculty, and staff. I look forward to strengthening the partnership with trustees at universities across the system.
Systemwide Campus Climate Survey
The Office of DEI is analyzing responses from the Systemwide Campus Climate Survey conducted earlier this spring. All current faculty, students, and staff had the opportunity to provide feedback on a range of issues including belonging/inclusion; campus safety; compositional diversity; and support systems. Survey results will provide baseline data about their State System experiences which will give us important insights about each university and the System. Once we establish a clear understanding of where we are, we can then begin to develop data-informed and outcomes-driven plans to create the diverse, equitable, and inclusive State System we aspire to become.
We appreciate everyone who completed the survey — your voices are important to our future. Thanks to you, 8,240 students (11.7 percent), 2,070 faculty members (40.5 percent), 1,762 staff members (42.3 percent), and 971 non-represented employees (66.6percent) systemwide completed the survey. The Office of DEI is working with the Office of Advanced Data Analytics to analyze the data and produce reports that will be used by the universities and the State System to create and maintain the diverse, equitable, and inclusive environments that we all deserve. Stay tuned for additional information on survey results.
Remembering Renardo Hall
On March 31, Millersville University and the Council of Chief Diversity Officers lost a dear and valued colleague. As reported by Millersville’s President, Dr. Daniel Wubah, “Mr. Hall joined Millersville University on January 8, 2018, as the associate vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. In that role, he initially oversaw the Center for Health Education and Promotion, University Health Services, Counseling and Human Development, Judicial Affairs and University Police. He also served on the Behavioral Intervention Team.”
We extend our deepest condolences to Renardo’s family, friends, co-workers, and everyone who knew and loved him. Rest in peace Renardo.
Vice Chancellor and Chief DEI Officer
In this Issue
By Dr. Joseph Croskey,
Executive Director of the Frederick Douglass Institute
I am humbled by the quality and quantity of the work that my predecessors accomplished over the years since the Frederick Douglass Institute (FDI) began as a systemwide effort in 1999. I am honored to carry the torch ignited by Dr. Jim Trotman, Dr. Veronica Watson, and many others.
Imagine you're invited to meet with the President of the United States. What would you have to accomplish to be in that position? Now imagine you're enslaved and have no rights. Frederick Douglass went from enslaved to a friend and advisor of President Lincoln. Douglass became a leading abolitionist, editor of two newspapers, and U.S. Ambassador for President Harrison. It is almost inconceivable that someone could rise to such a position after such a dreadful beginning. Now ask yourself, what would you do if you could not fail? That’s the question we ask to focus our efforts to create scalable systems that enable people to do their best work and become the best versions of their happy selves and to flourish for their communities.
Douglass closes his first autobiography, "From that time until now, I have been engaged in pleading the cause of my brethren." In a similar vein, the FDI seeks to aid in accomplishing the State System’s five DEI strategic priorities. The flagship program is the Frederick Douglass Teaching Scholars Fellowship. The FDI seeks Faculty Fellows who are skilled in culturally relevant pedagogy that support under-resourced students. We collaborate with HBCUs, HSIs and others to find graduate students, especially those from historically underrepresented groups, to find Fellows who are considering careers as university faculty. Each campus also has programs designed to support rich intellectual inquiry for undergraduates as student scholars. (More to come on those programs in the next edition of Connectivity.)
Most recently, we conducted an information seminar for dozens of interested graduate students at Texas A&M (a Hispanic-serving institution). Three past FDI Faculty Fellows spoke on Zoom about their positive experiences. (Dr. Andino earned a tenured position at Bloomsburg; Dr. Moore is a biology faculty member at Texas A&M; and Dr. Torres is a research consultant.) We also shared a video interview of two of our current FDI Fellows at ESU. Our goal is to hire two Fellows at each campus to promote interdisciplinary collaboration and mutual support. The FDI will treat all the fellows as a cohort and provide monthly professional and personal development. We may start with the fundamentals — be healthy, don’t drink sugar, drink adequate water, and sleep well. The latest research shows that maintaining these fundamentals allows us to perform at our best. Ask yourself, who are you at your best? And what could you do today to live in alignment with that best version of yourself?
Although there are challenges ahead to reach our goals, the words of Frederick Douglass provide guidance, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”
Kutztown University’s Dr. Mark Wolfmeyer, department chair, secondary education, was awarded a five-year, $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The grant (NSF-2150692) will support the recruitment of more STEM professionals to careers in secondary STEM teaching, drawing from a wider diversity of demographic, disciplinary and professional experience and preparing them for the challenging task of STEM education in under-resourced urban communities
The project, Mentoring Urban STEM Teachers (MUST) for Equity and Innovation, aims to serve the national need to increase the diversity of students entering STEM professions by supporting and training a broader diversity of secondary STEM teachers to teach those students. A synergistic collaboration among university faculty, secondary-school educators and community partners will train candidate teachers in development of the pedagogical and cultural knowledge needed for effective teaching in underserved communities and will provide sustained mentorship to the new teachers as they implement that knowledge in the classroom. Read full release
Dr. Mark Wolfmeyer is an assistant professor in the Department of Secondary Education at Kutztown University. He began at KU in 2015 and has published numerous books and research articles related to mathematics and STEM education. He came to KU with one peer-reviewed book and three peer-reviewed journal articles already in publication. In his time at KU, he has published two additional peer-reviewed books, six peer-reviewed journal articles and six other invited publications in edited volumes or research journals. He also serves as the president of the Eastern Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of Mathematics (EPCTM) and is a regularly invited speaker. Wolfmeyer’s first book, Math Education for America: Policy Networks, Big Business and Pedagogy Wars (2014), analyzes math education policy through the social network of individuals and private and public organizations that influence it. Wolfmeyer holds a Ph.D. in urban education from the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He received a Master of Arts in mathematics education from Claremont Graduate University and a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics and music from Pomona College. Wolfmeyer was the 2019 winner of the KU Chambliss Faculty Research Award, recognizing the very highest achievement in research and scholarship at the university.
A Clarion University graduate student is collecting personal care and menstrual products for individuals in the foster care system. Kendall Watts '21 is a first-year graduate student in the Speech-Language Pathology program who wanted to give back to the community and one issue stood out to her. “Period poverty is something that is very real and very common. A lot of people do not realize that some individuals must choose things such as food or clean clothes over these necessary period products,” Watts said
One of the most at-risk groups for period poverty is girls in the foster care system and Social Equity Director Amy Salsgiver suggested Watts donate the items to Children and Youth Services. “I loved this idea. A lot of the girls in this system do not have access to these products when they are placed somewhere. I think it is important that they have what they need when moving on to this new chapter in their life.”
So far, the university community has embraced the cause donating maxi pads, tampons, new and gently used bras, razors, deodorant, natural hair care products, monetary donations and more. Watts first collected items last fall and gave the donations to Jefferson County CYS. She decided to do so again this spring. Collection boxes are found on campus and monetary donations can be given to Watts by contacting her via email at K.G.Watts@eagle.clarion.edu.
“I want to be able to help make an impact on this issue to help decrease period poverty at least locally, for now. I hope these products will provide individuals with a sense of relief and comfort as they will not need to choose between buying period products or other necessary items.” Watts also hopes her drive is something that will continue long after she graduates.
“I hope someone will continue this charity once I leave Clarion or inspire others to do something similar in their hometown or their university community. This is something that is important to me. I am very fortunate to be able to afford period products and I want to share this feeling with as many people as I can.”
By Skylar Walder, student member of the Board of Governors
Diversity Week began at Shippensburg University during the Fall of 2020. Coming right out of the pandemic, we took a unique approach to programming. There were several student leaders involved, including Lance Hines-Butts, the original mastermind of this initiative, Lucas Everidge, and myself. The vision behind Diversity Week was, as Mr. Hines-Butts put it, “a response to the racial division and social intolerances we are experiencing in the world today.” Diversity Week became a time when Ship would celebrate, educate, and learn about the differences in individuals on and off this campus. Together, we would learn about the cultures and backgrounds of the people around us every day.
This programming consisted of different speakers, panelists, and facilitators to embrace our message of “One Campus Many Cultures.” Each day represented a different area of diversity—gender and sexuality, racial diversity, ability, religious and political, and ethnic diversity. As a campus, we wanted to set an example of how a university could help direct a campus during a critical time. It was important that we work in a collaborative manner and draw different populations of the campus together, to expose more students to a variety of learning opportunities. “Diversity is important to students because they’ll be able to learn and understand the people around them,” Lance expressed. He also stated, “If people understood each other’s backgrounds more, they would be more comfortable in their community and there would be less division.”
Lucas Everidge noted, “As leaders, we have the responsibility to do what is right. What made it an incredible experience was that it was student-led.” Three student leaders came together and worked day and night to lay a foundation for this initiative. Diversity Week was a great highlight of what Shippensburg University could do as an institution, but it also became an exemplar for what other universities could do. The awareness of diversity is increasingly important in a fast-changing world. It is our responsibility as university leaders and community members to act on these changes and ensure all voices are heard.
Diversity Week continues to provide educational opportunities and different experiences for campus involvement. The last two years have taught us that being able to adapt to changing conditions and pivot to new ideas is essential. At the same time, being open-minded and courageous is key. As individuals, understanding each other and our different backgrounds and experiences helps to contribute to both the reinforcement of and challenging of traditions. Diversity Week is a new and growing opportunity for the campus community to learn, celebrate, and embrace our traditions and our differences. We as student leaders look forward to seeing how it can grow and flourish, not just at Shippensburg University, but at other institutions as well.
Skylar Walder, a public service major, is a former student-athlete and an active member of the Shippensburg campus community. Walder’s involvement includes Student Government, First Year Experience, Student Ambassadors, President’s Student Advisory Council, and Diversity Week Leadership. She is also involved in leadership and service organizations in athletics.
Kutztown University established a Well-Being Committee in Fall 2020 to address the well-being of students, staff, and faculty during the pandemic. It has hosted a variety of small- and large-scale events each semester. The events were varied to meet the needs of a variety of students, staff, and faculty. The committee took its diversity focus up a notch on April 20, 2022, when it hosted is first ever well-being day called “Well-Being is Fire.”
The day started with some traditional well-being events led by a diverse set of facilitators, including a Drink & Draw and Mindfulness Meditation events. This was followed by International Food Tasting with a variety of foods cooked by students in the International Student Organization. Items included Belgian waffles, Indian Chicken Pancakes, Vietnamese Spring Rolls, Japanese Fried Chicken, Chinese Dumplings, and Korean Bubble Tea.
A long-anticipated part of the day was “Brothas Cookin’.” Six of our black campus leaders participated in a cooking competition. Three competed with their homemade gumbo and three with wings. The winner of the gumbo contest was Bernard McCree, Director of Financial Aid and the winner of the wings contest was Dr. Donavan McCargo, Assistant VP/Dean of Students. They each won a personalized apron and bragging rights. Additional food was provided by the black-owned “Taste Smokers” food truck.
The afternoon included a variety of international and multicultural food trucks, performances by the KU Black Flame Dance Team, and music and spoken word from the KU Hip-Hop Club. The day also had goat yoga, rock climbing wall, and other inflatables and games. Students could even get free haircuts or braiding from local favorite City Cuts. Free massages were offered in the Health & Wellness Center, and a sensory experience making potted plants or your own shea butter/body oil was also available.
The evening ended with comic Monroe Martin III from Philadelphia. Twenty different departments, offices, and student groups sponsored the day. More than 1,000 students and 300 staff/faculty attended the well-being event.
By Angelica Mishra, assistant to Sr. Associate Dean/Chief Diversity Officer
Kutztown University Office of Multicultural Services hosted its inaugural Multicultural Marketplace on April 13, 2022, with over 15 Eastern PA local vendors and 150 attendees including students, faculty, and staff. Caribbean Island Cuisine, a local food truck, provided tasty meals to the first 125 guests in line while attendees shopped around tables and discovered new businesses. Seven students won international snack boxes as raffle prizes.
Participating vendors sold a range of items from hair care products to t-shirts and crafts, to jewelry and potted plants, and a variety of other trinkets. Local participating businesses included Vinyllynn Designs, Outcast Apparel, Stellar Creations, Local Folk Creative Studio, Bomb Shell Virgin Hair, Stay Divine, Dixon Marketplace, Jobe Jade LLC, Joceys Aunaturale, Sorrelli Jewelry, Nevada, and Widoktadwen Center for Native Knowledge.
In a collaborative effort, the event was planned and executed by Emonie Reviere, a graduate assistant in Multicultural Services; Melinda Quiñones-Arias, director of Multicultural Services; and Angelica Mishra, assistant to Senior Associate Dean/Chief Diversity Officer. On the heels of Multicultural Services’ annual Ujima Conference in late February which celebrated Black history and culture, Reviere had the idea to host a marketplace showcasing a diverse array of vendors to the KU campus community. Quiñones-Arias would like to replicate this effort in future semesters to expand on the success of the inaugural event.
“I am thrilled with the outcome of the marketplace,” Reviere said. “I am very blessed to be under a director who provides me with the autonomy to go outside of what we are used to doing. This event and the confidence my director provided me with have only fueled my love to create more diverse and unique events on our campus.”
Sponsors for the event were Office of Multicultural Services and Aramark.