Easterling receives national ‘Giving Back Award’ for promoting diversity

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — William Easterling, dean of the College of the Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS), received the 2017 Giving Back Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine for his contributions to increasing diversity and promoting opportunities for students and faculty.

“Dean Easterling is very attuned to issues of power and privilege and equity, as well as to underrepresentation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields and actively works to make a positive difference,” said Victoria Sanchez, EMS’ associate dean for educational equity. “In his time as dean, he has made diversity, equity and inclusive excellence a priority for the College.”

After being named dean in 2007, Easterling immediately began increasing underrepresented enrollment in the college by creating the associate dean of educational equity position, which focuses on recruiting, retaining, and supporting underrepresented students while creating an experience that fosters success.

Easterling supported initiatives such as aggressive reprogramming of graduate student funding awards to increase representation of underrepresented graduate students receiving the most prestigious awards, and reprograming of college assistantships, which together have resulted in a total increase in the number of underrepresented graduate students. He also promotes the college’s participation in the STEM Open House, a collaborative graduate student recruiting event coordinated by the Graduate School and hiring protocols to increase staff and faculty diversity.

Most recently, under Easterling’s leadership, the college now has students participating in Penn State’s Millennium Scholars Program, a program aimed at improving diversity in STEM-related disciplines by offering scholarships to top-performing high school students who are dedicated to pursuing a doctorate.

“Increasing diversity in STEM fields will have far-reaching benefits for the underrepresented, for academia and for industry, opening doors for young, bright minds while strengthening the caliber of experts leading the next generation of discovery,” said Easterling. “That’s why I’ve made it a mission to increase opportunities for those students.”

When assuming the dean post in 2007, Easterling reviewed an in-depth study of the status of women faculty initiated by President Eric Barron when he was the dean of EMS, and recently commissioned a follow-up aimed at assessing progress and areas for further opportunity. Led by Katherine Freeman, Evan Pugh University Professor of Geosciences, the committee anticipates results will be available by late spring, and preliminary work indicates strong progress in representation and in climate.

“The Giving Back Award is being awarded to leaders of institutions of higher education who exemplify what it truly means to ‘give back’ to others,” said Holly Mendelson, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “These administrators are role models, and we honor their efforts to promote diversity and inclusion on their campuses and in their communities.”

Dr. Craig Hillemeier, dean of the Penn State College of Medicine, CEO of Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Health System, and senior vice president for health affairs for Penn State, was also selected to receive a 2017 Giving Back Award. Penn State President Eric Barron received the honor in 2016.

The Giving Back Award honors college and university administrators who go above and beyond their everyday leadership duties and “give back” to their campuses and communities. Easterling will be featured, along with 38 other recipients, in the April 2017 Leadership Support and Giving Back issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. 

Giving Back Award recipients were nominated by their colleagues and selected by the publication based on their outstanding demonstration of social responsibility; involvement with students, faculty, staff and the community; and commitment to serving underrepresented populations. Each honoree is recognized for his or her passion, dedication, and support for diversity and inclusion.

For more information about the 2017 Giving Back Award and INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, visit http://www.insightintodiversity.com/ online.  

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Last Updated March 27, 2017