ABINGTON, Pa. — Two teams from Penn State Abington joined a national coalition of more than 55 colleges and universities at the 2023 Summer Institute for Equity in the Academic Experience. The three-day series of workshops, panels and provocations was aimed at improving equitable access and outcomes for low-income, first-generation, and students of color at the institutions.
A total of more than 400 faculty, staff and administrators tackled meaningful equity projects linked to their strategic institutional priorities.
One Abington team’s project focused on breaking down ableist barriers on campus through professional development programs. Additionally, the team proposed systems that would encourage colleagues to participate in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) opportunities and highlight the importance of critical storytelling as a tool to raise awareness about the experiences that people with disabilities have on campus.
The team was comprised of Teri Dodaro, assistant teaching professor of elementary and early childhood education; Judy Newman, associate professor of human development and family studies and bioethics; Chavonne Campbell, disabilities coordinator; and Randy Ingbritsen, assistant director of Continuing Education.
The second team from Abington represented the Division of Arts and Humanities. The team's project focused on how the Abington faculty might hold itself accountable in terms of ensuring annual DEIB-focused reflections. They also proposed ways that faculty and staff might be recognized for their work as they continue to implement DEIB-focused pedagogies, practices and interactions on campus.
Grace Lee-Amuzie, director for the Center for Intercultural Leadership and Communication and assistant teaching professor of applied linguistics; Rachel LaMance, assistant teaching professor of applied linguistics and TESOL; and Lisa Chewning, interim division head for Arts and Humanities and associate professor of corporate communication, represented the Division of Arts and Humanities.
Efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion cannot come out of one office or one initiative. It has to be something that every person, from administrators to students, across faculty and staff groups, takes up as a part of what they do on campus.
—Boni Wozolek , director of diversity, equity, inclusive excellence and belonging, Penn State Abington
As the inaugural director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusive Excellence, and Belonging, Boni Wozolek noted the importance of DEIB as a community effort.
“Efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion cannot come out of one office or one initiative. It has to be something that every person, from administrators to students, across faculty and staff groups, takes up as a part of what they do on campus. We are all responsible for this work,” she said.
“It is my hope that by asking people across units to engage in meaningful experiences like this, and then making sure that we implement recommendations that emerge from these experiences, that we can all begin to collectively construct a culture that is centered around DEIB ideas and ideals,” Wozolek added.
Abington Chancellor Margo DelliCarpini supported the teams attending the Summer Institute and plans to send teams from other divisions in subsequent years, along with teams requested by the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusive Excellence, and Belonging to include as many voices and perspectives as possible.
“This work represents an important step toward achieving our strategic goals that focus on ensuring norms focused on diversity, equity, inclusive excellence and belonging and go beyond simply a policy and are a part of everyday campus interactions and culture. Ensuring equity in the academic experience is central to our academic mission,” DelliCarpini said.
The Fourth Annual Summer Institute on Equity in the Academic Experience was led by Georgetown University, the American Talent Initiative, Penn State and institutional partners who contributed to the national planning and programming.
About Penn State Abington
Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With more than 3,100 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 25 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer Honors College, NCAA Division III athletics and more.