Diversity at GSE

Penn GSE has long been committed to preparing students to live, work, and become leaders in a world marked by sweeping demographic change and interconnectedness.

Diversity @ Penn GSE:
By the Numbers

2017 Incoming Class

People of color


African American


Asian/Pacific Islander






Standing Faculty

People of color




Full-time/non-standing and Associated Faculty

People of color





People of color




Diversity at the Penn Graduate School of Education

Penn GSE has long been committed to preparing its students to live, work, and become leaders in a world marked by sweeping demographic change and interconnectedness.  Our students, faculty, and staff come from diverse backgrounds, and the diversity of the school is due in significant part to successful Penn GSE policies and practices.

The Dean and other senior faculty have also worked to foster a collegial and intellectually stimulating environment for faculty, students, and staff.  For example, the Visiting Faculty Scholars of Color series was established in 2008. The series invites renowned and up-and-coming scholars of color from all over the country to GSE to give lectures and share their research with faculty and students. The series also provides an opportunity for doctoral student socialization and learning. These talks are followed up with a lunch and conversation between students and the speaker about his/her work. 

In an effort to create a broader pipeline of students, Penn GSE successfully launched the Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) Recruitment Weekend in 2004, which is now done in partnership with its Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions. The MSI Recruitment Weekend aims to expose juniors from minority-serving undergraduate institutions to graduate school and recruit masters and doctoral students of color to Penn GSE. We work with 20 different MSIs to bring students to Penn, exposing them to our faculty, students, classes, and Philadelphia. The program has resulted in strong relationships with MSIs and recruitment of Black and Latino students across Penn GSE's programs. 

In the spring of 2012, GSE submitted its Action Plan For Faculty Diversity to the University of Pennsylvania, which was considered a model for the Penn campus at large. The purpose of this plan is to build on the school’s successful efforts to further diversify faculty by improving the faculty search process, and actively targeting talented faculty with diverse experiences when appropriate. Dr. Jessie Harper (Assistant Dean of Faculty Affairs and Diversity) along with Professor Howard Stevenson (GSE’s Diversity Search Advisor and a national expert on issues of race and inclusion) lead this effort within the search process, working closely with search committees, attending search committee meetings when possible, and ensuring that each committee is conducting the most inclusive search possible.

Throughout this past year, both faculty and staff have engaged in a series of dialogues at their respective meetings on issues of race and inclusion. These discussions have been structured through the work of Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs and Diversity Jessie Harper, along with Dean Grossman and Associate Dean Hartley. Further, Dean Grossman appointed a Task Force on Race and Diversity which she chaired along with Associate Dean Matt Hartley and Professor Howard Stevenson. The Task Force had faculty, staff and student representation. At the end of the 2016-2017 year, Dean Grossman established the Committee on Race and Diversity. Its charge is to address ongoing issues of school climate and safety around race and diversity at GSE and to develop proposals about how the School might best marshal its resources in order to make Penn GSE a more inclusive school. 

Penn GSE’s Student Affairs has been working closely with campus partners, faculty, and student organization leadership to promote a culturally inclusive community. In response to student voices, the School has created a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board, which will continue to address and create solutions for the racial climate at GSE. Specifically, the topic of inclusive community will be addressed through each orientation program and in collaboration with Student Government throughout the year in a comprehensive and consultative approach. 

Penn GSE also has several diversity-focused centers, such as the Racial Empowerment Collaborative and the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions, where center staff and affiliates collaborate on diversity-focused funded research projects, environmental assessment activities, training, and the production of timely research reports. Other efforts include a video on cultural inclusivity, which includes excerpts from interviews of Penn students, faculty, and staff and is designed to introduce the topic of diversity and cultural awareness early in the student experience.