UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — José Soto, associate professor of psychology in the College of the Liberal Arts, has been selected to receive the 2014 Dr. James Robinson Equal Opportunity Award.
The award, sponsored by the Penn State Alumni Association, was established in 1988 and renamed in 1998 to honor the late James Robinson, a distinguished alumnus and former member of the Alumni Council. It recognizes a full-time faculty or staff member with at least two years of active service who has promoted equal opportunity through affirmative action and/or contributes to enhancing the educational environment of the University through improving cross-cultural understanding.
Shortly after his arrival at Penn State nine years ago, Soto organized a workgroup within the clinical psychology program charged with assessing the program climate with respect to diversity. As a result, he founded and continues to serve as advisor for the Diversity Action Workgroup, now known as BRIDGE. This group of faculty and students works to enhance the Department of Psychology’s training, recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and students. Activities include meetings with prospective graduate students, supporting current students via various events, and sponsoring a diversity-focused speaker series.
“Dr. Soto and BRIDGE signal to prospective and current students our commitment to diversity as an area of scholarship, as an aspect of training and as a value,” one nominator said.
In addition to his work with BRIDGE, Soto teaches an upper-level course on multicultural perspectives within clinical psychology. His program of research focuses on the interplay between culture, health and emotion. For example, he has examined how minority group membership influences healthy functioning either directly or by altering different aspects of emotional functioning.
Soto has received the Diversity Recognition Award from the Multicultural Research Center and the Charles and Shirley Thomas Award from Division 45 of the American Psychological Association for his work on behalf of equal opportunity and cultural understanding.