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
Greetings and thank you for your interest in the February 2023 edition of Connectivity! The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is always excited to showcase and uplift all the great work happening across the State System. To get us started, here are a few highlights:
Pennsylvania Association of Councils of Trustees (PACT)
Joined by Dr. Kate Akers, Associate Vice Chancellor for Advanced Data Analytics, I had the pleasure of attending the PACT meeting on January 20 to discuss the recent systemwide campus climate survey. The discussion centered around the importance of all members of PASSHE experiencing a sense of belonging, in addition to the role of trustees in fostering inclusive climates. The concept of “belonging” was described as accepted and invited to participate; being part of something and having the opportunity to show up as yourself. It includes being able to raise issues and hard truths as a full member of a community. In contrast, the concept of “othering” was described as treating people from another group as essentially different from and inferior to the group to which you belong. PACT reiterated their interest in partnering with university leadership and others to foster environments where all students and employees belong.
DEI — 21st Century Essential Knowledge and Skill Set
PASSHE is pleased to continue offering employees and students the opportunity to explore core DEI topics designed to prepare them for greater success in an increasingly diverse and interdependent global society. “Get Inclusive” is the vendor the State System selected to build foundational knowledge and skills in this critical area of organizational life and culture. I completed the training modules last year and again earlier this year, and I am a better leader as a result. To learn more about the Get Inclusive suite of trainings, please contact Dr. emily howe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEI Policy Review — Pilot Phase I
I updated the Board of Governors on the work of the DEI Policy Review Committee during the recent Board meeting in Harrisburg. The Policy Review Committee exists to examine Board policies through an equity lens, and to support the development and maintenance of an equitable State System of Higher Education through its policies, standards, and procedures. As board chairwoman Dr. Cynthia Shapira reminded us, we must make sure that Board polices do not create unintentional barriers for any student or employee. During the pilot phase of this work, a representative group of faculty and staff completed training and developed a model framework for policy reviews. The committee reviewed 22 policies during this first phase and offered recommendations for consideration. The work will continue throughout the coming months including review of remaining policies. Tremendous thanks to the committee for their dedication and hard work!
Policy Review Committee
- Tedd Cogar, Senior Assessment Coordinator and LBGTQIA Support, Indiana University
- Joseph Croskey, Associate Professor, Penn West University, and Executive Director, OOC Frederick Douglass Institute
- Tess Fosse, Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator, Commonwealth University at Bloomsburg
- Stephanie Jirard, Professor, Shippensburg University
- Deryl Johnson, Professor, Kutztown University
- Pamela Keye, Chief Diversity Officer and Title IX Coordinator, Cheyney University
- Star Latimer, Student, Cheyney University
- Tena Mauer, Vice President, Human Resources, Commonwealth University
- Molly Passmore, Legal Counsel, Office of the Chancellor
- Ursula Payne, Professor and Faculty Council Member
- Santiago Solis, Chief Diversity Officer, East Stroudsburg University
- Carlos Wiley, Chief Diversity Officer, Millersville University
Office of DEI — Two Year Status Report
The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion was started in August 2020 under the leadership of Chancellor Dan Greenstein who appointed PASSHE’s inaugural Vice Chancellor and Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer. I am humbled and honored to have been selected to serve in this role, which focuses on students, faculty, and staff, and the policies and practices that impact their experiences as members of the PASSHE community. The Office of DEI places a special emphasis on the assessment and outcomes of populations historically excluded from higher education and remains a core feature of System Redesign, organizational sustainability, and workforce development. In December 2022, a Two-Year Report and 2023-2025 Strategic Plan was published containing detailed information including major accomplishments since 2020. The full report can be found here.
1. Wise, S. (2022). “Design for Belonging: How to Build Inclusion and Collaboration in Your Communities.”
Quarterly Quote — Closing food for thought...
“But freedom is not enough. You don’t wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: ‘Now you are free to go where you want, and do as you desire, and choose the ladders you please.’ You do not take a person, who for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, ‘You are free to compete with all the others’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair.
“Thus, it is not enough just to open the gates of opportunity. All our citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates. And this is the next and more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity. We seek not just legal equity but human ability, not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result.” ~ Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965 Howard University Commencement Speech
In this Issue
- 2022 DEI Summit Roundup
- WCU Helps Answer the National Teacher Pipeline Shortage
- Former President and CEO of NAACP Speaks at KU Ujima Conference
- Upcoming Events & Conferences
- FDI Corner
- Campus Highlights
- Title IX
By Dr. emily howe
The Office of DEI’s second Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Summit took place on November 2-4, 2022, and focused on the theme, “What does it mean to belong? Cultivating relationships and centering equity in communities.” Over 1,100 students, faculty, staff, administrators, and external partners registered for the Summit!
Like the 2021 Summit, the virtual conference offered exciting keynote speeches and
over 30 engaging sessions. Many attendees who took the post-survey noted their enjoyment
of the keynotes and the sessions. A faculty member at West Chester stated that, “All
Keynotes were very engaging and insightful - lots of great information/relevant examples.”
A staff member at Kutztown explained, “I found the sessions this year to be the best
so far. Pretty much every session I attended provided information relevant to my work.”
There were also a few new additions to this year’s Summit to help increase social
interaction and engagement. For one, all 10 universities and 14 campuses hosted an
in-person opening reception and/or a watch party on Wednesday, November 2 to kick off the Summit. Summit stickers
and totes were distributed at these in-person events.
In the virtual programming, attendees were able to participate in a speed networking session on Thursday where attendees would be randomly placed at “tables” of four people to chat, and these tables would rotate every 10 minutes. One graduate student at Shippensburg raved that “The networking was phenomenal, and I was excited to feel engaged and heard!”
Prior to our final keynote with Dr. Jelani Cobb on Friday, we hosted the inaugural Keepers of the Flame awards ceremony. Each of the 14 campuses selected and honored a “Foundation Builder” who embodies a commitment to creating and promoting diverse and inclusive environments that cultivate a sense of belonging at their university. These Keepers of the Flame were featured in the last issue of Connectivity and continue to inspire others, engage in collaboration, and enact positive change.
In our post-survey and evaluation of the Summit, we heard many positive reviews of
the sessions and programming as well as a desire to use the momentum from the Summit
to keep growing and deepening the work on campuses to ensure diverse, equitable, and
inclusive environments within and beyond PASSHE. A staff member at Millersville’s
take away was that, "Good work is happening, but more needs to be done!” while a
PennWest administrator stressed "the importance of collaboration and continued learning.”
We are also excited to announce that the 2023 DEI Summit will take place on November 8-10, 2023. Please save the date!
In the meantime, we want to keep the momentum of the Summit going! We hope you stay in touch so we can continue cultivating relationships, which are necessary to support and sustain this work in the long term.
Fueled by a passion to help others learn and discover, teaching is one of the most inspirational careers one can take on. Post-pandemic, however, the profession has evolved dramatically and those who have dedicated themselves to the life-transforming career understand that it will take a lot more than tempting teachers with apples to swell the ranks. Interestingly, a significant factor associated with the current national teacher shortage (as outline by the American Association of School Personnel Administrators) is decreased interest in the profession prompted by the perception of what it means to be a teacher. West Chester University’s Dean of the College of Education and Social Work Desha Williams knows exactly what it will take to fill the pipeline once again— Partnering in Raising Inclusive, Zealous Educators (PRIZE).
Created and led by Williams, the University’s new PRIZE program is designed to increase the number of teacher candidates in today’s pipeline, while significantly boosting the number of teacher candidates from diverse backgrounds. The program, which was launched in the fall of 2022, features opportunities for participating high school juniors or seniors with a 2.8 or higher high school GPA to take in-person and/or online college-level education classes at WCU; all costs will be covered by the University as well as the partnering school district. The University plans to admit all participating students who earn a minimum 3.0 high school GPA or who earn a grade of “C” or better in their college education courses.
Peer-to-peer support is a critical component of the project, too. Undergraduate education majors have been tapped to serve as mentors to keep the high school students on track and inspired along the way. In addition to being immersed in a host of leadership development and internship opportunities, rising high school seniors and/or graduated seniors will participate in a summer on-campus experience at the University. The University looks forward to welcoming its first cohort of high school participants this summer.
The PRIZE will be when these participating students graduate from West Chester University and return to their home schools to teach.
School districts are eagerly raising their hands. Participating in the innovative partnership so far are Kennett Square Consolidated School District in Kennett, PA; Chester Upland School District in Chester, PA; and Colonial School District in Plymouth Meeting, PA. Conversations are also ongoing with other area school districts that wish to join in.
Williams, a long-time educator who developed a series of successful pathway programs in GA to prepare teachers for ethnically-diverse student populations in rural, urban and suburban environments, is adamant that the teaching profession needs to change its strategy. “We don’t do a good enough job telling our stories,” Williams said recently in a Philadelphia Inquirer article written by Sue Snyder, higher education reporter. Williams shared with Snyder, “We do the work. We celebrate students’ accomplishments, and then we just get up and do it again the next year.”
PRIZE is destined to be a game-changer and the timing is right for such an initiative. According to Williams, the Commonwealth is experiencing a drastic increase in the need for teachers. In 2020-2021, the Commonwealth issued 5,039 new certifications, as opposed to 25,728 in 2012-2013. While research documents positive impacts on student learning when teachers represent diverse backgrounds, only 7% of teachers in Pennsylvania identify as persons of color; 37% of students in the Commonwealth identify as students of color.
“As the backbone of our educational system, teachers cultivate generations of students and comprise the village that we depend on,” says Senior Vice President and Interim Provost Jeffery L. Osgood. “It is up to the universities and colleges that train these committed professionals to actively reach out to school districts to help solve what has become a grand challenge --- infusing the U.S. educational system with an increasing number of teachers from a variety of diverse backgrounds who welcome inspiring all children. We are especially proud of the compelling work that is going on at WCU’s College of Education and Social Work to advance the education of all children; that is indeed the ultimate PRIZE.”
The Board of Governor’s for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE)
also is working to address the commonwealth’s teacher shortage by graduating more
students. The State System is requesting a targeted state funding investment of $112
million for students in six in-demand, high-growth fields, including education. PASSHE’s
plan would use $56.5 million to provide direct financial relief to education students,
saving each an average of $1,500. High-need students could receive an additional $5,000,
for a total of $6,500 per year. Visit the
Advocacy Resource Center to learn how you can help support the State System’s budget request.
By Jerry Shearer
Kutztown University hosted its annual Ujima Conference Feb. 15-16, with this year’s theme centered on reimagining cultural authenticity. As part of KU’s celebration of Black History Month, the two-day event featured former president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Cornell William Brooks. Other events during the two days featured wellness activities, and workshops/seminars led by KU faculty and staff. The annual conference is hosted each year by the Multicultural Services/Center Staff.
Kutztown University — Equity and Awareness in the Arts
The Department of Art and Design’s 2023 Equity and Awareness in the Arts lecture series is being kicked off in Professor Noel's class with artist Clarity Haynes at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 28th. All lectures are available for live streaming on YouTube.
CONNECTIVITY LIVE — March 2023
An informal social space intended to foster new connections and create opportunities for people with common interests to meet, connect, and collaborate.
Institute on Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers
Expanding TRHT Campus Centers to Dismantle Hierarchies of Human Value and Build Equitable Communities (Virtual Learning Experience: JUNE 27 - 30, 2023)
Deadline: Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. EST
2023 NADOHE Conference — April 12-15, 2023, | Baltimore, MD
Delivering on the Promise: Enhancing Structural Equity to Promote Justice for All
This year’s NADOHE Conference will highlight the policies, programs, practices, and processes that should be examined and enacted in order to create lasting change on college campuses.
NCAA Inclusion Forum — THE POWER OF PROXIMITY - APRIL 21-23, 2023 | INDIANAPOLIS,
The forum will bring together leaders within higher education and intercollegiate athletics, including student-athletes, to engage in powerful programming and provide key takeaways to enhance efforts on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging initiatives. Educational programming will focus on each of the office of inclusion's five core areas of disability, international, LGBTQ, race/ethnicity and women
By Dr. Joseph Croskey, Executive Director, FDI
Douglass Debate Competition & Frederick Douglass Research and Creative Arts Conference
The Frederick Douglass Institute is proud to announce its upcoming Douglass Debate Competition held virtually on April 11 and12. University students from all over PASSHE will come together to engage in a lively and thought-provoking debate on the resolution "Environmental Justice should be prioritized by policymakers in our local communities".
The competition will bring together some of the brightest and most talented university students to discuss and argue the importance of environmental justice and its impact on local communities. With the increasing global concern over environmental issues and their impact on marginalized communities, the Douglass Debate Competition provides a platform for students to share their ideas and thoughts on how to address this critical issue.
The Douglass Debate Competition is open to all university students, and the winning team will receive a special prize. The competition is an excellent opportunity for students to showcase their critical thinking and public speaking skills, as well as engage with other students from different universities and backgrounds on ideas about ecological and social justice.
“Our purpose in organizing the Douglass Debate Competition is to provide a unique opportunity for university students to integrate their personal experiences with in-depth research to develop, share, and ultimately subject to critical questioning their standpoints on environmental justice,” said Dr. Robert J. Green. “We are committed to promoting discussions on this important issue to inspire our next generation of policymakers to consider if, how, why, and when environmental justice should be prioritized in their local communities.”
Registration for the tournament will be conducted at the official tournament website: http://douglassdebates.tabroom.com. Because the tournament will be conducted in an online format, all coaches, competitors, and judges will need to create an account with Tabroom.com—a free service provided by the National Speech and Debate Association. Please contact Dr. Green (email@example.com) if you have questions about your tournament registration.
About the Douglass Debate Competition: Robert “RJ” Green Ph.D., is the Director of 2023 Douglass Debates, and Storm Heter Ph.D., is Co-Director. The Douglass Debate Competition is an annual event that brings university students together to engage in lively and thought-provoking debates on current and relevant issues. The competition is designed to promote critical thinking, public speaking skills, and to encourage discussions and exchanges of ideas on important issues facing our communities.
In addition to the Douglass Debates, join the Frederick Douglass Research and Creative Arts Conference on April 13, 2023 and be a part of shaping a brighter future. The theme of the conference, “What will you do to create a more sustainable and just world?” presents a unique opportunity for students to share their ideas, voice their opinions and collaborate with peers on the crucial issue of sustainability and justice. Your participation will help foster a community of critical thinkers and problem-solvers, ready to take on the challenges facing our world today. So, let's come together and make a difference, one idea at a time!
Commonwealth Bloomsburg University– Dr. Carolyn Reid-Brown reported that the FDIAE welcomed 91 inductees into the student scholar program. The requirements to become a part of the FDI Student Scholar Program are to maintain a GPA > 3.0 to participate in at least two FDIAE events each semester, contribute to an FDI legacy project, and promote social justice and DEI ideals. Pictured below are some of the new inductees.
East Stroudsburg University – Dr. Laura Kieselbach reported that they are partnering with PBS to screen the documentaries of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman. The website is new and improved. They are the main sponsor of the spring Research and Creative Arts Conference this year.
Millersville University and PennWest – Amy Salsgiver from PennWest and Dr. Onek Adyanga from Millersville, and others, are
planning a bus trip in April to the National Museum of African American History and
Kutztown University – Grand re-opening of the Frederick Douglass Institute at Kutztown University on February 7, 2023. Located in the Multicultural Center, FDI has a redesigned office, an awesome new executive board, and a revised mission aligned with KU's Strategic Plan and JEDI. The day started with convocation and details on our new structure to foster academic excellence and a caring campus culture. The highlight of the open house included a guest lecture by historian Dr. Richard Benson (University of Pittsburgh). Dr. Benson brought a wealth of knowledge about the struggle for civil rights and rocked the house in his talk "Radical activism beyond a dream: Examining the unknown Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." In addition, the day included a preview of new programming at FDI including the Education as Freedom Project, critical book club, and the Black and Brown Women's Writing Coalition. All of these are grounded in Douglass' vision of humanity and literacy.
Shippensburg University– Dr. Sharnine Herbert reported that they are celebrating Black Joy and Black History month. Students are invited to show pictorial display of what Black Joy means to them. During Women’s history month they will screen “Our Mother’s Gardens” documentary.
Slippery Rock University – Dr. Franklyn Charles reported that Jawara Griffin, a Black attorney and author (Homeboy) from Philadelphia who will share his experiences that highlight and celebrate resiliency. They sponsored The Crown Experience, a self-care and natural hair event for Black women.
West Chester University– Dr. Christian Awuyah reported that they were making a trip to the National Museum
of African American History and Culture. Outreach educational programs have been very
successful. Truist Bank and Wells Fargo, among others provide support for the programming
they provide to K-12 students.
February 14th is Frederick Douglass Day!! DouglassDay.org says that although Douglass never knew his birthdate, he chose to celebrate every year on February 14th.
New Title IX Employees
Bradley Davis, Labor Relations and Title IX Specialist at Millersville University
Bradley Davis is from Fredericksburg, Virginia and completed his undergraduate studies
at Randolph- Macon College where he was also a varsity football player. After graduating
from Randolph-Macon, he attended Penn State University and received a law degree and
Master’s in Education Theory and Policy. More importantly, while at Penn State he
met his beautiful wife, Taylor. Prior to joining Millersville University, he was working
as an Associate Attorney with a law firm in Berks County. Outside of work, he and
Taylor enjoy exercising together and spending time with their beagle, Roo, and their
two cats, Lucy and Star.
David Thorton, Director of Title IX at Cheyney University
David M. Thornton is originally from Dayton, Ohio. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Family Studies and two master’s degrees in public administration and another in urban studies, all from the University of Akron, in Ohio. David has worked in many different areas regarding social equity. David found his niche in higher education and enjoys what he does. In his free time, David enjoys shopping, traveling, and resting. One fun fact is that David is an avid dog lover.