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University to launch new diversity education pilot program

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As part of the University’s commitment to fight bias and intolerance, Penn State is launching a pilot program for a new diversity, equity, gender education initiative. and Belonging (DEIB) for all Penn State employees.

The new program – “BUILD @ Penn State,” which stands for “Broadening Understanding and Inclusion Through Learning and Dialogue” – is a direct result of Penn State President Eric J. Barron’s message to the community University in June 2020, in which he described the creation of a new University-wide DEIB education program for employees as one of the key elements to creating a more inclusive and welcoming university. The creation of a new university-wide DEIB education program also supports Penn State’s strategic plan, which describes “Advancing Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity” as one of its goals. foundations.

“Promoting diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is at the heart of what we do at Penn State – from our commitment to access and affordability, to our mission to land granting, these principles are central to our mission as a university,” Barron said. . “Building a diverse and equitable institution is something every Penn Stater plays an active role in, and this new initiative will help support how every member of our community can help create a diverse, welcoming and inclusive Penn State. .”

Following Barron’s message to the Penn State community, an advisory committee was convened in the fall of 2020 to develop a proposal to provide comprehensive DEIB training to all University employees. Penn State’s President’s Council, which is made up of top administrators from across the University, recommended moving forward with the proposal in March 2021, selecting Suzanne Adair, associate vice president for affirmative action. ; Lisette Garcia, assistant vice president for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging; and Marcus Whitehurst, vice provost for educational equity, to co-chair the implementation team that would develop the program’s final structure and curriculum.

The implementation team includes representatives from across the University, including administrators, human resources, DEIB and multicultural program managers, faculty members, and academic leaders. The team also sought input from a range of stakeholders, including the Penn State Academic Leadership Council, the Penn State Faculty Senate, the Academic Leadership Forum, and the Academic Staff Advisory Council.

The pilot program will run from May 16 to July 8 with the participation of select units across the University, including the President’s Council. Other units that will participate in the pilot include Penn State’s Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Hazleton and Brandywine campuses; academic colleges, including earth and mineral sciences, health and human development, and arts and architecture; and additional units including Student Affairs, Outreach, Global Campus, Strategic Communications, University Policing and Public Safety, Auxiliary and Business Services, and Housing and Food Services. Five percent of employees from each of these units were randomly selected to participate.

“Units across the University — including the President’s Council — volunteered directly to participate in the pilot program,” said implementation team co-chairs Adair, Garcia and Whitehurst. “It signals broad leadership support, enthusiasm and commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, and an understanding that we all need to put that commitment into action.”

[email protected] State is the result of extensive research and benchmarking, including an in-depth review of DEIB-related programs offered by other Big Ten universities and a review of all DEIB content currently offered by providers of the university. The implementation team has worked to develop a curriculum that covers a wide range of DEIB topics while serving and supporting the entire university community, including employees who are already familiar with the concepts and practices DEIB as well as employees who have never followed similar training.

Based on the results and feedback from the pilot program, the BUILD implementation team plans to further refine the program and program format, ahead of a planned University-wide launch for the semester of Fall 2022. When launched University-wide, the program will become a new component of the comprehensive training already required for all employees. Additional implementation details will be shared in the coming months.

It is anticipated that the program will consist of three tracks, all of which will be delivered through the Learning Resource Network (LRN), each totaling no more than 90 minutes and focusing on the following topics:

  • Track 1: Recognize the importance of inclusion in the workplacewhich will focus on raising awareness and empathy towards issues of difference, creating a common understanding of what diversity is, and setting expectations for future installments;

  • Track 2: Adopt an inclusive mindset at work, which will offer the tools to help participants recognize the impact of their own beliefs and biases on workplace interactions, relationships and responsibilities, and demonstrate individual actions that create welcoming, affirming and inclusive spaces; and

  • Track 3: Skills to build a culture of inclusionwhich aims to help participants integrate inclusion into their daily work, continue to develop their personal strengths and build on related knowledge, recognize behaviors that foster connection with people, and find solutions to common challenges to advance a culture of inclusion.

Each successive annual installment will build on the skills learned in the previous track’s program and will include optional additional material and readings for employees who wish to learn more.

“This is an important step forward as we continue to work to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive university,” the co-chairs said. “We would like to thank every Penn Stater in advance for participating in this important initiative, as each of us plays a vital role in creating an inclusive and welcoming community for Penn Staters of all backgrounds and walks of life.”

Penn Staters with questions about the new [email protected] State program can email [email protected] for more information.

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