Educational Equity to host talk for underrepresented Commonwealth Campus faculty

October 13, 2020

UNIVERISTY PARK, Pa. — Faculty members at Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses are invited to attend “A Conversation with Senior Faculty Mentors” from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 21, to be held virtually via Zoom.

Hosted by the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity, the event is intended especially for faculty members at Commonwealth Campuses from underrepresented groups, though all are welcome. The event is an opportunity for attendees to connect with the University’s appointed Senior Faculty Mentors and learn about the resources available to support and guide them during their careers at Penn State. The Senior Faculty Mentors are part of the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity, and offer consultation for faculty members to help facilitate the attainment of tenure, promotion and advancement at each career stage. The Oct. 21 conversation is part of an intentional and ongoing effort to connect with faculty members at campuses across the University.

“As President Barron has said, Penn State is one University, geographically distributed, so it is very important for us to be diligent in serving all of our campuses,” said Keith Gilyard, one of the two Senior Faculty Mentors and Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English and African American Studies. “We want our faculty at Commonwealth Campuses to know we are here for them, that our time and attention is here for them, and our resources for faculty development are here for them.”

Jennifer Hamer, fellow Senior Faculty Mentor and professor of African American studies and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, said she and Gilyard work directly with underrepresented and minoritized faculty, as well as others, to help them thrive at Penn State. Common areas of focus include navigating the tenure and promotion process, developing review materials, balancing service and teaching obligations, and navigating challenges in the classroom.

The conversation on Oct. 21 is a chance for underrepresented faculty members at Commonwealth Campuses to learn more about how the University’s Senior Faculty Mentors can help support them and their individualized needs. Department heads and other academic leaders also are welcome to attend to learn more about resources available for underrepresented faculty members in their departments.

“We know, for example, that at some locations, there may be only two or three faculty members of color at their campus, so we recognize that these faculty need a particular kind of support. We want them to know they are part of a community that understands their particular experiences and needs,” Hamer said. “We are here to help our faculty navigate their careers, connect with the offices and resources that best support their goals, identify and talk through challenges that may hinder retention and career success, so that at the end of the day faculty members are maximizing their potential as scholars and instructors and Penn State can grow toward a more model workplace environment.”

Faculty members interested in attending can register online.

This event builds on the creation of the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity’s new Faculty Pathway website, which unveiled new resources for supporting faculty members from underrepresented backgrounds and others at all campuses. These include a new faculty tenure and promotion resource, a mentorship resource clearinghouse, Multicultural Faculty Development Support Funds, classroom guidance, and a Mid-Career Faculty Advancement Program to support the advancement of associate professors to full professors.

Hamer and Gilyard note that they will host a similar event for University Park faculty members in the near future, but that this event is specifically for faculty at Commonwealth Campuses. As part of the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity’s commitment to faculty members at all campuses, Gilyard said he and Hamer plan to continue their outreach to Commonwealth Campuses, including through virtual events and in-person meetings when health and safety guidelines allow for physical travel.

The Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity has also been hosting a series of virtual roundtable discussions titled “Toward Racial Equity at Penn State: Social Difference, Social Equity and Social Change.” The series will conclude on Nov. 4 with a conversation which will broadly focus on equity, social differences and the current state of the nation.

Last Updated October 20, 2020