The development of critical thought is one of the cornerstones of the University. Such critical thought is dependent upon demographic and cultural diversity. The units of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate School define diversity as “a climate which encourages representation of faculty, staff, and students from typically underrepresented entities, including those from racial/ethnic minority groups, various countries and cultures, genders, persons with disabilities, and those from a mixture of religions and sexual orientations.”
The Office of Graduate Educational Equity Programs leads the Graduate School’s efforts to foster diversity and to provide a welcoming climate for both prospective and current graduate students of underrepresented groups. The office designs and implements mentoring programs; recruitment programs; professional development and retention programs; and conferences, seminars, workshops, and lectures. The office also leads the Summer Research Opportunities Program at Penn State and the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. Both programs provide connections with highly talented undergraduate students who are interested in attending graduate school.
The Office of Graduate Educational Equity Programs is headed by Assistant Dean Stephanie Danette Preston, Ph.D. Dr. Preston works with other administrators across campus and serves on the Council of College Multicultural Leaders. In addition, she is a member of the Northeast Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate. This alliance is funded by the National Science Foundation and is responsible for designing recruitment programs to attract more underrepresented students into math, science and engineering programs.
The members of the staff in the Office of Graduate Educational Equity Programs also serve as liaisons between students and many other offices and organizations. Among these are the Black Graduate Student Association, the Boricua Grads, the Africana Research Center, the American Indian Leadership Program and the Committee for Institutional Cooperation (CIC).\