Penn GSE's Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion

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 intentionally fostered by Penn GSE’s policies and practices. Expanding and sustaining this diversity is crucial to our mission as a school. But there is always much more to do. 

Over the last few years, we have deepened our engagement in ongoing learning and dialogue about difference, as well as our shared interest in using education to create opportunity. Learn more about our efforts.

Read the Penn GSE Diversity Action Plan.

Albany Vega

Striving to Create a Welcoming Community for All

“Penn GSE captivated me from the start. The strong focus on social justice, equity, and equality within education is something that is shared by students, staff, and faculty. The classroom, my program, and Penn GSE overall is a space in which I can be surrounded by like-minded individuals, yet also be challenged in my critical thinking skills. Apart from the academic prestige, Penn GSE is very much a welcoming and community-oriented space that creates an environment in which students can interact with one another outside of an academic setting and create networks with each other and faculty.”

Albany Vega
M.S.Ed. 2018, Education, Culture, and Society

Fostering Dialogue & Accountability

Dean Grossman and other senior leaders have worked to foster a collegial and intellectually stimulating environment for faculty and staff. For the past few years, faculty and staff have engaged in a series of dialogues on issues of race, equity, and inclusion. Further, Dean Grossman appointed a faculty/staff/student task force on race and diversity in the fall of 2016. In 2017, Dean Grossman converted the task force into the standing Committee on Race, Equity, and Inclusion.

Penn GSE’s Office for Student Affairs has been working closely with campus partners, faculty, staff, and student leadership to promote a culturally inclusive community. Some initiatives that have been implemented over the years are regular programming about racial literacy, building foundational knowledge for international students, and incorporating diversity and inclusion information into orientation. Student Affairs plans spaces for students to discuss issues relevant to them, their education, and their efforts to educate others. You can find up-to-date information on the Events Calendar.

Fostering Diversity in Our Community 

Office of Student Services
Dr. Ann Tiao
Assistant Dean, Student Services
(215) 898-7019

Office of Faculty Affairs and Diversity
Dr. Jessie Harper
Assistant Dean, Diversity & Faculty Affairs
(215) 573-3725

Office of Human Resources
Emma Grigore
Chief People Officer
(215) 746-3133

Group of Penn GSE Students at the Art Museum Rocky Statue


Student Organizations

Penn GSE and the University of Pennsylvania work as partners with our graduate and undergraduate students to provide diversity-focused student organizations that are meaningful, relevant, and supportive for our students.

Student Organizations

Visiting Scholars of Color

Our Visiting Faculty Scholars of Color series was launched in 2008, and invites renowned and up-and-coming scholars of color from all over the country to give lectures and share their research with faculty, staff, and students at Penn GSE. These highly-anticipated talks are followed up with a lunch and conversation between students and the speaker about the speaker’s work. The schedule of scholars is announced each fall. To find information about upcoming and past events, visit the Visiting Scholars of Color page.

Committee on Race, Equity, and Inclusion

Penn GSE's Committee on Race, Equity, and Inclusion, launched in 2017, is composed of students, faculty, and staff. The Committee has focused on addressing school climate, the development of HEARD in 2018—a center that brings together students and faculty interested in issues of race and equity—and strengthening policies and procedures for dealing with sexual harassment and racial bias. Penn GSE continues to hold open forums for students, faculty, and staff to learn about the committee’s work and to respond to their recommendations and suggestions in both areas. Read our procedures around sexual harassment reporting.

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Staff and faculty training concerning sexual harassment, sexual violence reporting, and bias began in 2017 and is an ongoing effort. Additionally, key staff and faculty receive more in-depth instruction from Penn Violence Prevention to ensure that community members have multiple avenues if they should need assistance. We now require all incoming students to view a module and give feedback on how the University of Pennsylvania handles sexual violence and harassment issues. The Committee has facilitated research-based anti-sexual harassment role-play training for faculty. 

In spring 2018, the Committee implemented Penn GSE's first survey on school climate for its entire community of students, faculty, and staff. Key learnings inform the Committee's annual agenda. 

Additionally, the Committee on Race, Equity, and Inclusion is deeply committed to supporting any members of our community who have witnessed or have been the targets of bias-related incidents, particularly racial bias. To that end, the Committee developed bias reporting procedures and resources for any members of our community who have experienced a discriminatory or hurtful act, and can also assist them in identifying campus and school resources to help them understand their options.

Resources can be found on our Equal Opportunities and Harassment Policies page under Formal Complaints and Reporting Offices. Members of the Penn community can access an online Bias Incident Reporting Form here. A number of additional events and gatherings will be planned throughout the year around any number of themes aimed at promoting understanding.

Research Centers & Initiatives

Penn GSE has several race- and diversity-focused centers, such as the Racial Empowerment Collaborative and HEARD, the Hub for Equity, Anti-Oppression, Research, and Development. GSE’s faculty, students, and staff are engaged both locally and globally. Our distinguished faculty publishes broadly on issues of domestic and international diversity. Students also have the opportunity to publish with faculty mentors and in GSE’s two student-edited journals: Perspectives on Urban Education and Working Papers in Educational LinguisticsPenn GSE's scholarship is aimed at generating both research and practice-based efforts around race, equity, and inclusion. All are aimed at generating both research and practice-based efforts around race, equity, and inclusion. 

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GSE students, faculty, and staff continue to step up to the challenge of leadership, question the assumptions of the past, and raise our voices as we move forward as a school. We welcome all voices. We would like to underscore that this is a place for fostering learning across differences -- which includes a listening and respectful stance across these differences. 

Our commonalities, especially our shared belief in the importance of education, are what bring us together. Our differences – cultural, racial, gender, and beyond – spark challenges and conversation that make us a better community and a better place of learning. We welcome you to this ongoing conversation and look forward to listening to and learning from your perspectives.

Our Community's Diversity

Reaching for More Faculty Diversity:

The GSE Action Plan for Faculty Diversity has been considered a model for the University of Pennsylvania campus at large. The plan’s purpose is to build on the school’s successful efforts to further diversify faculty by improving the faculty search process and, when appropriate, actively targeting talented faculty with diverse experiences. Currently 27% of GSE faculty are people of color, with 14% coming from under-represented groups. 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 to ensure that they conduct the most inclusive search possible.  

Maintaining a Diverse Student Pipeline:

Penn GSE is proud of its diverse student population. Twenty-five percent of our students are international, representing 47 countries. Domestically, 16% of our students identify as African American, 11% as Asian American, and 13% as Hispanic.

Penn GSE continues to enact a number of successful efforts to create a broader pipeline of students. 

Standing Faculty

People of color

40%

Asian

12.5%

Black/African American

15%

Hispanic

5%

Multiple

7.5%

Gender

55% Women
45% Men
Staff

People of color

36.1%

American Indian/Alaskan

0.6%

Asian

7.1%

Black/African American

20.7%

Hispanic

6.5%

Multiple

1.2%

Gender

70.1% Women
29.9% Men
Professional Faculty

People of color

35%

Asian

15%

Black/African American

15%

Multiple

5%

Gender

75% Women
25% Men

Reporting Harassment & Bias

Penn GSE takes incidences of bias very seriously. We encourage our community to make use of the reporting mechanisms and resources available.