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Penn State Commission On Racism, Bias, & Community Safety Officially Convenes

Penn State’s Presidential Commission on Racism, Bias, and Community Safety has officially convened, the university announced Tuesday night.

The commission will focus on how the university uses resources to address issues such as racism and bias. It will also make recommendations about how Penn State can make its environment safer for students who have experienced racism on campus.

The commission comes as part of President Eric Barron’s response to increased reports of racism and discrimination around campus. Other steps included mandating bias training for faculty and staff and reexamining the university’s Student Code of Conduct.

Nineteen total members sit on the commission, with three co-chairs and 16 general members. They consist of faculty, staff, and alumni from all across the Commonwealth.

The three co-chairs are Danielle M. Conway, dean and Donald J. Farage Professor of Law at Penn State Dickinson Law; Clarence Lang, Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts and professor of African American studies; and Beth Seymour, a chair on the University Faculty Senate and a professor at Penn State Altoona.

“The commission gives Penn State a process to make real and lasting change that will transform our educational, research, and public-facing service missions for the next generation of teachers, learners and community members who are able to realize their full potential, free from racism and bias,” Conway said.

The other 16 members of the commission include:

  • Gary Abdullah, assistant dean for diversity and inclusion, Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications.
  • Ashley Adams, senior director of Student Affairs at Penn State World Campus.
  • Kimberly Blockett, professor of English at Penn State Brandywine.
  • Emil Cunningham, director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
  • Sonia DeLuca Fernández, associate vice provost in the Office of Educational Equity.
  • Justin De Senso, professor of English and African American studies at Penn State Berks.
  • Kenya Faulkner, chief ethics and compliance officer.
  • Alice Adu Gyamfi, Institute for Arbitration Law and Practice, Penn State Law, alumna.
  • Wanda Bryant Hope, chief diversity and inclusion officer at Johnson & Johnson and member of the Smeal Board of Visitors, alumna.
  • Roderick Lee, professor of information systems in the School of Business Administration at Penn State Harrisburg.
  • Efrain Marimon, professor of education at University Park.
  • Elsa Sanchez, professor of horticultural systems management in the Department of Plant Science.
  • Joaquim Diego Santos, undergraduate student, majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology in the Eberly College of Science.
  • Aneesah Smith, director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Penn State Abington.
  • Christopher Tounsel, professor of history and African studies.
  • Chris Walters, senior coordinator for student success, Penn State Abington.

Additionally, Penn State created a new website allowing community members to send in ideas, suggestions, and thoughts, which will go directly to the co-chairs of the commission. The commission will also use the website to provide updates on its progress.

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About the Author

Owen Abbey

Owen Abbey was a Secondary Education major before he graduated from the wonderful institution known as Penn State. When he was not writing for the blog, he enjoyed rooting for the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens, supporting Penn State basketball and softball, dreaming of all of the ways he would win the TV show "Survivor," and yes mom, actually doing school work. All of this work prepared him to teach his own class of students, which was always his true passion. He still can be found on Twitter @theowenabbey and can be reached for questions and comments at [email protected]

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