Brown to receive 2017 Robinson Equal Opportunity Award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Nathanial Brown, professor of mathematics in the Eberly College of Science, has been selected to receive the 2017 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.

Brown is already recognized as a leader in promoting diversity in the college, and this award adds to his resume. In 2016, he was awarded $200,000 from the college to continue diversity efforts. He also won the college’s Climate and Diversity Award in 2014.

Brown’s efforts to improve diversity in the college and in Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) include:

  • Conducting thorough interviews and a review of the college’s practices to promote diversity, which he did about a decade ago. Brown used those findings to develop a response to that report and continues to build on his efforts to promote diversity and inclusion.
  • Giving a series of diversity-related talks in the mathematics department, including faculty meetings, the Graduate Training Seminar, Math Club and teaching seminars.
  • Hosting a series of events aimed at understanding and improving issues related to diversity in STEM fields including lunches to address stereotype threat and town hall style talks where faculty members can air their concerns and offer ideas on improving diversity.

Brown reaches out to minorities in the field in various ways, including YouTube videos and an active Facebook math page, but he’s most noted for his efforts in the Penn State Millennium Scholars program, which is designed for high-achieving STEM students who could become leaders in their chosen fields. Brown teaches calculus to Millennium Scholars during the summer bridge program, a program aimed at readying the students for a successful undergraduate experience en route to advancing their education.

“Brown has been a cornerstone of the program since the very beginning,” said a nominator and colleague. “He helps recruit the students, mentors them and counsels them on more than just math.”

Last Updated April 04, 2017