Initiatives

Penn State President Eric J. Barron has announced the following initiatives, all of which are critical to Penn State's efforts to address racism, bias and community safety, and to advance meaningful change.

Overview: Select each link to learn more.


Learn more about each initiative below.


  • Convene a task force to initiate a full review of the Student Code of Conduct, with significant participation by student leaders, including a student in the role of co-chair. The task force will seek every opportunity for improvement as it works to provide the community with a full understanding of its purpose and provisions, including the role of restorative justice.

    The co-chairs for this task force are:
    • Nyla Holland, Undergraduate Student, President of Penn State Black Caucus, Penn State University Park
    • Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Faculty, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Penn State Law, University Park

      Moving into the next phase, office hours will be put on hold. Future office hours will be posted, should they continue.

      The members of this task force include:
      • Nicole Jara Andrade, Undergraduate Student, Political Science, President of Penn State Latino Caucus, Penn State University Park
      • Patricia Birungi, Undergraduate Student, Chair of Academic Affairs in UPUA, Penn State University Park
      • Eleanor Brown, Faculty, Professor of Law and International Affairs and Senior Scientist, Rock Ethics Institute, Penn State University Park
      • Erin Brown, Undergraduate Student, Schreyer Honors College, Paterno Fellows Program, Penn State University Park
      • Nate Brown, Faculty, Professor of Mathematics, STEM Diversity Lab, Penn State University Park
      • Juan Castro, University Police Sergeant, University Police and Public Safety, Penn State Harrisburg
      • Kade Crittenden, Graduate Student, Master of Higher Education Administration, Penn State University Park
      • Gabby Falzone, Post-Doc, Restorative Justice Initiative, College of Education, Penn State University Park
      • Erica Frankenberg, Faculty, Professor of Educational Leadership, Director of the Center for Education and Civil Rights in the College of Education, Penn State University Park
      • Keisha Johnson, Conduct Standards Coordinator, Student Affairs, Penn State Abington
      • Brad Kovaleski, Director of Student Services & Engagement, Penn State Scranton
      • Tamla J. Lewis, Associate General Counsel, Penn State University Park
      • Sidnee McDonald, J.D. Candidate, Black Law Students Association, Student Bar Association, Penn State Law University Park
      • Andrew Mitchell, Associate Director of Student Conduct and Residence Life, Penn State University Park
      • Cassandra Nunez, Undergraduate Student, Electrical Engineering, Millennium Scholars Program, Latinx Leadership Institute, Penn State University Park
      • Lestine Paye, Undergraduate Student, VP of Berks Student Government Association, Penn State Berks
      • Allie Ryave, Undergraduate Student, Penn State Hillel, Presidential Leadership Academy, Penn State University Park
      • Jennifer Sabourin, Director of Student Conduct, Penn State Altoona
      • Danny Shaha, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Penn State University Park
      • Sarthak Vij, Undergraduate Student, Economics and Mathematics, Former President of College of Liberal Arts Student Council, Penn State University Park
      • Lamont Wade, Undergraduate Student, Penn State Football, Penn State University Park
      • Tylah Wells, Undergraduate Student, President of Association of Black Collegians, Penn State Erie
      • Darius Williams-McKenzie, Graduate Student, Student Fee Board, UPAC, Penn State University Park
      • Alina Wong, Associate Vice Provost for Educational Equity, Penn State University Park

    • Name a Select Penn State Presidential Commission on Racism, Bias and Community Safety. This commission is tasked to examine the deployment of University resources to address the profound social issues related to racism and bias that are pervasive in our nation, and specifically at Penn State. As well, an important aspect of the commission’s work is to make concrete recommendations that will promote and support the safety of faculty, staff and students who are confronted by racism and bias on our Penn State campuses. This select commission includes a broad representation of leaders and scholars at all levels in the University, including the leadership of the current University Presidential Commissions, as well as members of our alumni whose independent judgement will be of value to this important work.

      The co-chairs for this Presidential Commission are:
      • Danielle M. Conway, Dean and Donald J. Farage Professor of Law, Penn State Dickinson Law
      • Clarence Lang, Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts, Professor of African American Studies, Penn State University Park
      • Beth Seymour, Chair, University Faculty Senate, Associate Teaching Professor of Anthropology, Communications, History, and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Penn State Altoona

        The members of this Presidential Commission include:
        • Gary Abdullah, Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, Penn State University Park
        • Ashley Adams, Senior Director of Student Affairs, Penn State World Campus
        • Kimberly Blockett, Associate Professor of English, Penn State Brandywine
        • Emil Cunningham, Director, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Finance and Business, Penn State University Park
        • Sonia DeLuca Fernández, Associate Vice Provost, Office of Educational Equity, Penn State University Park
        • Justin De Senso, Assistant Teaching Professor, English and African American Studies, Penn State Berks
        • Kenya Faulkner, Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, Penn State University Park
        • Alice Adu Gyamfi, Institute for Arbitration Law and Practice, Penn State Law, Alumna
        • Wanda Bryant Hope, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Johnson & Johnson and member of the Smeal Board of Visitors, Alumna
        • Roderick Lee, Associate Professor of Information Systems, School of Business Administration, Penn State Harrisburg
        • Efraín Marimón, Assistant Professor of Education, Penn State University Park
        • Elsa Sanchez, Professor of Horticultural Systems Management, Department of Plant Science, Penn State University Park
        • Joaquim Diego Santos, Undergraduate Student, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Eberly College of Science, Penn State University Park
        • Aneesah Smith, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Penn State Abington
        • Christopher Tounsel, Assistant Professor of History and African Studies, Penn State University Park
        • Chris Walters, Senior Coordinator for Student Success, Penn State Abington

      • Ask the Task Force on Policing and Communities of Color to reconvene, examine where we have made, or not made, progress since the task force completed its work in 2017, and to explicitly examine all procedures and practices related to bias and to use of force, including those that result from our partnerships across the commonwealth.

      • Work with the Board of Trustees to help ensure that educational and employment equity has the full attention of the trustees. The board has expressed considerable interest in continuing to elevate this topic in its deliberations.

        An oversight group will hear updates related to the new initiatives being launched to combat racism and bias across Penn State. This group will be led by Trustee Brandon Short.

        In addition to Short, the oversight group includes Trustees Abraham Amoros, Bryan Culler, Mark H. Dambly (ex officio), Barbara Doran, David Han, Julie Anna Potts, Pedro Rivera and Matt Schuyler.

      • Work with the University Faculty Senate, Staff Advisory Council, student leaders and University administrators to initiate mandatory bias training for all employees beginning during the fall semester. All senior administrators will complete the training modules already developed by Penn State’s Equity Action Resources Team as soon as possible, and we will examine the potential for adopting training programs developed at other institutions external to the University.

      • Partner with the University Faculty Senate to support the request of student leaders for required racism and bias coursework for all students. Our students have been persistent in requesting these educational programs and it is time to work with them to improve our educational offerings and opportunities.

      • Partner through shared governance with the University Faculty Senate to continue to develop improved policies, procedures and expectations that will increase the hiring and retention of faculty who are members of underrepresented groups at the University. Hiring and retention continues to be a major challenge for Penn State that must be addressed.

      • Prioritize the well-being of all students and employees, including enhanced mental health resources, and community building initiatives. We must recognize that students and employees have cited the stress of feeling unsafe and unwelcome as a result of hate speech.