Penn State Scraps Plans For Center For Racial Justice

Penn State has decided to not pursue the opening of the planned Center for Racial Justice, according to a news release from the university last week. The center was supported by former President Eric Barron near the end of his term at Penn State.

Instead, President Neeli Bendapudi and her team will look at the university’s existing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) initiatives, programs, and scholarships to allocate more resources to them rather than creating an entirely new project.

“There is remarkable DEIB scholarship and practice underway by current faculty, staff, and students across the University, and we remain deeply committed to continuing to build on the foundation of scholarly research and programming around racism and racial bias at Penn State,” Bendapudi said. “I have determined that enhancing support for current efforts by people who know Penn State best will be more impactful than investing in a new venture, and so we will not pursue efforts to launch a Center for Racial Justice.” 

The cancellation of this new project comes as a surprise to many people, as the university announced in March that it was looking for a new director for the Center for Racial Justice. According to that news release, the center’s goals were to “focus on translating scholarship into educational opportunities, foster public engagement, and inform policy decisions at the University, state, and national levels.”

This decision, coming off of how the university handled the controversial event and protests and protests last week, has been met with plenty of criticism within the university as well as outside the Penn State community.

Bernice King, the chief executive of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, shared a tweet expressing her concern about this decision.

The plan to identify existing DEIB efforts will begin in November, and a special advisor to the president will oversee the work. Bendapudi will choose a faculty member from within the university to take over this new role. The end goal is to develop an institutional equity plan to be shared with the Penn State community early next year.

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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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