Barron receives Giving Back Award for diversity initiatives at Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State President Eric Barron received the Giving Back Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine recently for his work promoting diversity and equity at Penn State. This national award honors college and university presidents and chancellors who have gone above and beyond their everyday leadership duties to give back to their campuses and communities.

Recipients are chosen based on their outstanding demonstration of social responsibility; a commitment to charitable services; and involvement with students, faculty and staff in serving underrepresented populations.

“Dr. Barron’s commitment to diversity is not surprising to those of us who remember his years at Penn State as a faculty member and dean,” said Tom Poole, vice president for administration at Penn State. “In that period, he was very diligent in his portion of the University’s diversity strategic planning. When he returned in 2014, diversity, inclusion, access and affordability were among the first priorities he identified for his presidency. I am pleased to see that he is getting this recognition for a commitment that has spanned his entire professional career.”

Nominations for the award require a colleague’s recommendation. Barron’s came from Victoria Sanchez, assistant dean for educational equity in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. In her recommendation, she said, “I could put a lot of words around it, but basically it comes down to the fact that Dr. Barron really gets the need for equity, and he’s very willing to stand up for it.”

Vice Provost for Educational Equity Marcus Whitehurst said that the award was well-deserved.

“When it comes to inclusive excellence, Dr. Barron has always been in the forefront of leadership," Whitehurst said. "During the fall of 2015, he lead efforts as one of the first to sign on to ‘Pennsylvania Competes,’ which focuses on strengthening our state's economy by attracting a vibrant and talented workforce while protecting hardworking LGBT Pennsylvanians from discriminatory practices. Dr. Barron also has earned a great deal of credibility and respect from various diverse communities, including our veterans and military active duty. With his television talk show on WPSU, Dr. Barron has opened up some critical dialogue with veterans and has worked to create a welcoming campus environment for this important student population."

The recommendations include mentions of Barron’s focus on diversity as part of his six imperatives for Penn State. As part of his imperative on access and affordability, Barron’s leadership team has put into place practical initiatives to help increase student retention and graduation rates while decreasing the cost of a degree and the rate of student borrowing. His efforts are in keeping with the goal of ensuring that a Penn State education should remain accessible to all qualified Pennsylvanians.

Barron also has underscored a focus on diversity and demographics as a critical element of life at Penn State, highlighting the importance of diversity as a business, and as an educational and moral imperative. In a presentation to the University’s Board of Trustees he said it is Penn State’s “obligation as a public institution of higher education to teach the people in our communities, in our state, in the nation, and increasingly, around the world.”

"The Giving Back Award is being given to leaders of institutions of higher education who exemplify what it truly means to ‘give back’ to others," said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “These presidents and chancellors are role models, and we honor their efforts to give back to everyone on their campuses and in their communities.”

This year’s awards went to 28 chancellors and presidents from around the country. Each honoree was recognized for his or her passion, dedication and philanthropic achievements.

Last Updated April 18, 2016