Connectivity focuses on all things related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) across Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. The publication will highlight thought leaders, promising initiatives, and other actions that promote diverse, equitable, and inclusive policies and higher education practices across the Commonwealth and beyond. Connectivity will be informative, inclusive, thought-provoking, and focused.
Message from Vice Chancellor Denise Pearson
Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Title IX
On June 23, Title IX of the Education Amendments Acts of 1972 was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. This history changing law prohibited sex discrimination in educational programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. PASSHE is fortunate to have a fantastic team of Title IX Coordinators who oversee policies and practices at their institutions and systemwide. Learn more about Title IX at PASSHE and How Title IX Transformed Colleges, Universities Over Past 50 Years.
City & State Pennsylvania 2022 Diversity Summit
On July 14, I had the pleasure to participate in a panel discussion about Diversity
in Pennsylvania alongside Chad Lassiter, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Human
Relations Commission, and others. The panel discussed a range of topics including
inclusive hiring practices and strategies to foster a diverse workforce across the
commonwealth, and ways Pennsylvania’s government can enhance diversity in the state
and major cities. I was honored to join the summit, which affirmed the importance
of cross-sector collaborations and partnerships.
Announcement of new Assistant Vice Chancellor, DEI
In July, the Office of DEI welcomed Christa Cobb to the team as its assistant vice chancellor. Christa came to us from Cheyney University, where she had served as its chief diversity officer for the past six years. She is a proven DEI champion in addition to having the knowledge, skills, and disposition to help the State System co-create and maintain diverse, equitable, and inclusive policy and practice environments. Christa, among other duties, has taken on the role of editor for Connectivity. She can be reached at email@example.com if you have an idea for an article. Welcome again, Christa!
What We’re Reading
In preparation for our upcoming staff retreat, the Office of DEI staff are reading Diversity’s Promise for Higher Education: Making it Work, Third Edition (Daryl G. Smith. 2020). The book is divided into four parts and Joseph Croskey will open the discussion with a focus on The Diversity Imperative; emily howe will follow with a focus on Reframing Diversity; Christa Cobb will focus us on Building Capacity by Interrupting the Usual; and I will wrap up with a focus on What Will it Take? We are looking forward to these discussions to strengthen our capacity to support the State System’s DEI efforts.
The 2022 DEI Summit – November 2-4
Planning for this year’s DEI Summit has been underway for a few months and it is shaping up to be another great virtual convening. We are particularly excited that Dr. Cindy Shapira, chairperson of the Board of Governors, will provide opening remarks to get us started. We are also pleased to share that Milissa Bauer, chairperson of the Pennsylvania Association of Councils of Trustees (PACT), is planning a panel discussion with fellow trustees to discuss their DEI-related roles, challenges, and opportunities. #LeadershipMatters. (More information below)
“What divides us pales in comparison to what unites us.” ~ Edward Kennedy.
In this Issue
- New PASSHE Chief Diversity Officers
- 2022 PASSHE DEI Summit: What Does It Mean to Belong? Cultivating Relationships and Centering Equity In Our Communities.
- 2022 Guiding the Way To Inclusion (GWI)
- Get Inclusive
- International Conference on Global Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education
- FDI Corner
2022 PASSHE DEI Summit: What Does It Mean to Belong? Cultivating Relationships and Centering Equity In Our Communities
The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is pleased to announce the 2022 PASSHE DEI Summit, which will be held virtually November 2-4, 2022. This year's theme is “What does it mean to belong? Cultivating relationships and centering equity in our communities.”
To create diverse communities that are inclusive and equitable to all, we must explore the question: “What does it mean to belong?” How can we individually and as a collective, nurture diversity, equity, and inclusion as foundational to building a robust State System? This year’s Summit aims to serve as a platform for dialogue, reflection, communal learning, and community building, centered on exploring the praxis of belonging.
Last year, the virtual DEI Summit held over 40 sessions with over 500 attendees from across the State System! This year, we hope to expand on that success and deepen connections that support this work.
We invite students, faculty, staff, administrators, Board members, trustees, and other State System stakeholders to think together about how to cultivate environments that promote belonging and well-being for all, both on and beyond campus. We also invite these groups to submit a proposal to share your research, best practices, or lead an interactive workshop that is related to learning and implementing DEI practices, activating organizational cultural change, and measuring the impact of this work on your campus or in your community.
The DEI Summit supports the State System’s five mission-driven DEI priorities, which were affirmed by the Board of Governors in April 2021: 1) Faculty, Staff, and Student Diversity; 2) Equitable Student Outcomes; 3) Inclusive Communities; 4) Curriculum Diversity; and 5) Enabling Infrastructure. This annual Summit reflects the State System's commitment to building and maintaining a diverse, equitable, and inclusive space for faculty, staff, and students to thrive.
By Christa Cobb, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
I had the opportunity along with several other PASSHE admissions and DEI professionals to attend NACAC’s Guiding the Way to Inclusion (GWI) conference which took place in Philadelphia, PA on July 24-27, 2022. This annual conference offers admissions professionals with opportunities to participate in educational sessions regarding multicultural recruitment and campus inclusion, while also providing time to discuss current issues in small groups, round table discussions, and share best practices related to equity in higher education.
The highlight of the conference was hearing a dynamic presentation from Dr. Terrell Strayhorn. Dr. Strayhorn is a premier thought leader on college success, the author of 11 books, including College Students’ Sense of Belonging (2nd ed, 2019), and over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and nationally circulated reports. His keynote address challenged attendees to think differently about how institutions can begin cultivating a sense of belonging across our campuses to meet the needs of today’s students. The expectations of today’s students include the following:
- Ease of accessibility
- Holistic care
- Suite of “tailored” services
- Highly engaging experience
- Alignment of personal values and social responsibility
- Belonging and meaningful connections
As we begin to think differently, we must examine policies (academic & social), accountability systems, and evaluations (evidence based), that impede an institution's ability to provide access and equity for all students.
One new admissions initiative shared during the summit was the Greenlight Match platform. Greenlight Match reimagines the college admissions process to make opportunity accessible for underserved students with a goal of broadening access to higher education opportunities by leveraging the admission process as a streamlined, equitable student-college match process. Students create an anonymous profile outlining their academics and preferences then colleges make admission, financial aid and scholarship offers in a safe, secure environment. The platform matches profiles to right match-and-fit colleges based on students’ unique academic qualifications and college interests. This process takes place earlier than historic enrollment deadlines, allowing students to finalize admissions decisions early in their senior year.
The ‘pilot’ launch in Chicago began last year yielding results to validate the need and opportunity for this new innovative approach to the college admission process. Phase 2 of the launches this fall, expanding college access and success to other regions across the country. Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) is listed as a representative partner and will participate in the next phase of the launch. More information regarding IUP’s participation will be spotlighted in an upcoming issue of Connectivity.
Attending this conference opened my eyes to the world of admissions and helped me better understand some of the challenges as well as opportunities within the college access and admission process. As we continue with our System Redesign within PASSHE, we must, as Dr. Strayhorn said in the conclusion of his presentation, “Be unapologetically committed to students.”
Christa Cobb is the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Office of the Chancellor. She is committed to creating safe spaces for individuals to feel heard, seen, and valued. As a member of the Rotary Club of Philadelphia, Christa has a passion for creating lasting change and for service. Her favorite book is Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new vendor, Get Inclusive, was selected during fall 2021 to replace the Shared Services Everfi contract for Title IX and DEI compliance training. The new contract with Get Inclusive began in July 2022. The Get Inclusive platform allows universities to continue to carry out the ELG directive for all employees and students to complete online trainings related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as to provide the harassment prevention/Title IX and protection of youth training required by State System policy.
HR Shared Service and the Office of DEI worked with university administrators of employee and student training to configure training modules and support the transition to the new system. Employees and students will be able to utilize Single Sign-On (SSO) to access the modules using their PASSHE credentials. New hires will be required to complete training modules within 30-60 days of hire, while current employees and students will be required to complete annual trainings. University administrators of employee and student training received access to the Get Inclusive platform in August 2022 and will notify campuses of future required compliance trainings.
If you have any questions related to Get Inclusive or your assigned University administrator, please contact Kimberly Holland (email@example.com), System Human Resources Manager, and Dr. emily howe (firstname.lastname@example.org), DEI Manager of Special Projects, Research, and Reporting.
By Dr. Nripendra Singh and Dr. Tanuj Singh
Clarion University (now PennWest Clarion) organized the first two-day International Conference on Global Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education on May 12-13, 2022. The purpose of this international conference was to share ideas and promote awareness of DEI. Day one of the conference included welcome address, keynote speakers, panel discussion, and DEI Training. Day two focused on academic research presentations. 45 faculty members made 32 presentations in three parallel sessions. A cultural event was organized during lunchtime. An Afro-Colombian dance performances by ‘The Palenque’ (a dance company at Slippery Rock University). Almost 100 participants from nine countries attended the conference in two days, virtually and in-person.
Keynote speakers: Pennsylvania Senator Art Haywood shared his real-life experiences from his college days starting from Morehouse College to London School of Economics. How racism impacts the life of students, which needs to be stopped. His goal is to end campus racism by fixing the six gaps (FIX the SIX): End racial harassment and speech, nurture and retain students of color, organize incident reporting systems, unveil mandatory diversity training, generate mental health resources, and hire faculty and staff of color. He pointed out the importance of Title VI similar to Title IX. Vice Chancellor Dr. Denise Pearson emphasized the importance of diversity and inclusion for all and not just the students of color. She stressed the need to create safe spaces on all PASSHE campuses to have free conversations and provide opportunities to break down the barriers so that students can explore the beauty of intellectually, racially, and ethnically diverse academic community. She praised the work done by faculty and staff members at Clarion university such as Dr. Joseph Croskey to lead the Frederick Douglass Institute collaborative.
Dr. Nripendra Singh is Professor of Marketing in the Department of Management and Marketing at Pennsylvania Western University (former Clarion University). He joined Clarion University in 2018. At Clarion, Dr. Singh has organized two conferences, chaired three committees and been a member of several committees, including two presidential commissions. Dr. Singh is a Fulbright Scholar. He has earned two doctorate degrees and two MBA degrees. He recently started ‘Clarion Consulting Center’ to provide real-world and hands-on experience to Clarion students.
Dr. Tanuj Singh is an Act 101 Success Coach at PennWest University (former Clarion University). She has more than four years of teaching and advising experience to undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds. She is associated with the International Student program and Clarion Recycling Club at Clarion. She has published five journal articles and six conference presentations. She has earned Doctorate degrees in Humanities and social sciences and has two master’s and two bachelor’s degrees in economics and Library Science.
By Dr. Joseph Croskey, Executive Director, FDI
Recently, one of our FDI Scholars mentioned that her students appreciate that she
is not too far removed from their undergraduate experience. They expressed that she
demonstrates more empathy for their situation, and she brings a fresh perspective
to the classroom.
The FDI is actively working towards creating environments where students, faculty and staff can thrive. Faculty, Staff, and Student Diversity is one of the five strategic priorities and the FDI supports this by promoting the teaching fellowships on system campuses. These fellowships are held by graduate scholars who are pursuing careers as university faculty. Often the fellow is entering their final year of terminal degree and/or doctoral programs. These FDI Scholars who participate in the Faculty Fellows program are afforded teaching opportunities, in addition to time to finish their graduate work. The fellows benefit from other professional experiences, such as mentoring, and professional development. Many FDI Scholars are in positions with potential to become tenure track and some are in temporary positions for multiple years.
This year the FDI fellows will have the opportunity to participate in monthly professional development events. These will be held virtually on the first Friday of each month so that FDI Scholars can meet other faculty fellows who are on different campuses. This will provide opportunities for learning, collaboration, and support. It may also afford these new scholars with the opportunity to develop relationships that lead to more interdisciplinary research that advances scholarship and innovative curriculum.
The FDI Scholars is one effective program that our institutions can leverage to achieve their strategic priorities.
Friday, September 2, 2022, at 2 p.m.
Topic: Union 101 with guest speaker Josh Grubbs
Fun Fact - FDI Scholar Wesley Brown will be featured in the book Contemporary Black American Ceramic Artists showcasing his Clay Quilting and Monument Series. This book will be available on Oct. 28, 2022.