Congleton appointed director of multicultural programs

July 24, 2008

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Randi Congleton has been named director of multicultural programs in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. As director, she will develop and coordinate programs and policies affecting the recruitment and retention of underrepresented and minority students in the college. She also will work with student groups and the college's numerous educational and academic support services and programs. Congleton will investigate current and potential funding sources, prepare grant proposals and develop funding partnerships with collaborating agencies.

Before graduating from the college in 2003 with a bachelor's degree in agricultural and extension education, Congleton was a member of the Minorities in Agriculture and Natural Resources Association. She earned a master's degree in community services from Michigan State University and comes to the college from a position as assistant director at Penn State's Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life, where she provided educational programs and opportunities for students and advisers.

"I'm excited by the opportunity to not only continue working with students but to give back to the college in unique ways that will assist in retention and success," Congleton said. "Returning to the college where I was an undergraduate will allow me to collaborate with people who were mentors and that I've worked with. I'll be maintaining and enhancing meaningful relationships that existed even before I applied for the position."

Much of her work with underrepresented groups, she said, will be creating and maintaining spaces where they feel welcome.

"Ag sciences has always been a place where students come together to bond and build social networks that they will retain long after graduation," she said. "One thing I enjoyed during my days in Minorities in Agriculture and Natural Resources was that we drew many students who were not from the college, which says that they felt supported. I hope to see graduate students also accessing the social networks and resources that are critical not only in terms of climate but also are predictors of professional success in their respective fields."

Another perspective that Congleton brings to her new position is a broad sense of multiculturalism that she said meshes with the vision presented in the college's strategic plan and the University's Framework for Diversity. "The position has evolved and I want to make sure it offers the broadest sense of multiculturalism as providing all who are underrepresented and looking to find place in college: rural lifestyles, sexual orientation and single-parent students," she explained.

J. Marcos Fernandez, associate dean for undergraduate education, said that Congleton's experience will help ensure student success while contributing to the recruitment of new and promising students.

"Randi has a great deal of college-level advising and student life experience, as well as a familiarity with Penn State and our college," he said. "Having worked alongside her on university-level student life initiatives and events in the past, we anticipate that Randi will bring an abundance of enthusiasm, energy, and success to this critically important position.”

Ann Dodd, assistant dean for strategic initiatives, said Congleton will be a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion among faculty, staff and educators as well as with undergraduate and graduate students. "She will work with the college's diversity-coordinating council to advance collegewide change in support of our diversity goals and will be instrumental in leading and assisting units in the recruitment, retention and success of underrepresented graduate students," she said.

EDITORS: Contact Randi Congleton at 814-865-7521, or by e-mail at


(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009