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2016-2017 End of the Year Report

Diversity and Community Enhancement Committee

2016-2017 End of the Year Report

Summary of Accomplishments, On-Going Work and Recommendations


During this past year, the members of the Diversity and Community Enhancement Committee (DCEC) of the College of Education enthusiastically implemented activities to further enhance a learning/work environment in which inclusion, equity and difference are recognized, respected and openly discussed.  The membership is to be commended for their commitment and for the time volunteered to implement a range of activities during the past year in order to meet the interests of distinct groups of people who collaborate in the educational and administrative working of the College, including staff, faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students. 

The Committee met monthly to share information and ideas, and prioritize tasks while the organizational work was carried out by subcommittees which met to plan and implement events and develop initiatives suggested during the larger meetings.  These subcommittees and leadership were as follows:  Staff Subcommittee (Samantha Walker) the Undergraduate Subcommittee (Ashley Patterson & Efrain Marimon), and the Faculty and GA Subcommittee (Carlos Zalaquett).  Additionally, ad hoc groups of DCEC member united to organize regular social gatherings, called “Meet & Greet” during the year, two during the Fall semester and one during the Spring semester, co-sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Programs.  The gatherings were well-attended and allowed faculty, staff and graduate students from different programs and physical spaces of the College to meet and converse.

Elizabeth Smolcic acted as DCEC Chair and Isaac Bretz continued as Graduate Student assistant to the Committee. Participation at monthly meetings was consistent throughout the year, typically drawing 12-15 members.  The following is a chronological listing of events and activities implemented during 2016-2017.  It is followed by a narrative report from each Subcommittee who were the people directly engaged in planning and implementation and includes ideas for ongoing work towards the future.  Also, listed below are details of one DCEC grant that was awarded during the past year.

Members (2016-2017):  Gary Abdullah, Chris Andrus, Susan Bass, Gail Boldt, Isaac Bretz Jessica Buterbaugh, Seria Chatters,  Nkenji Clarke, Amy Crosson, Kimberly Powell,  Jeanine Staples,  Elizabeth Smolcic, Amity Maines, Maria Schmidt,  Efrain Marimon, Linda Oishi, Ashley Patterson, Kyle Peck, Anay Pope, Sarah Stager, Kaleena Selfridge, Jonte Taylor, Samantha Walker, Wanda Wasilko, and Carlos Zalaquett,


Uprooted and Rerooted: Stories of Loss, Resilience and Social Change (Fall, 2017) Foster Auditorium, Pattee/Paterno Libraries.  This series presented films and speakers that highlight loss, struggle, and transformation of young people in diverse cultural context — Ecuador, Guatemala, and the U.S., offering both a global and cultural perspective on a changing world. The film and speakers offered the opportunity of dialogue to emphasize that we can each be who we are together, and advance the ‘All In at Penn State: A Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion’ initiative.  

  • Vengo Volviendo (Here & There) Monday, October 24, 2016, 6:00-8:00pm

        A film Screening and Q & A by Ecuadorian filmmakers Isabel Rodas & Gabriel Páez
        The film was written, filmed, and produced by young people in Ecuador. It highlights Ecuadorian adolescents’ contemporary concerns,              including the conflicts and paradoxes arising from emigration of family members for work abroad. This is a link to the film website.

  • Immigration and Politics:  A Panel Discussion. October 27, 2016, 4:30-6:00pm
    Given the prominence of anti-immigrant/immigration rhetoric being propagated during this election, and the dearth of fact-checking by mainstream media, the Diversity Committee (DCEC) of the College of Education has organized an opportunity to hear about and discuss current immigration policies and the likely consequences of either a Trump or Clinton immigration plan.  The panel included experts on immigration law, Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia and Victor Romero, from Penn State Law and the Center for Immigrants’ Rights, as well as students Ramon Guzman and Stacy Justo and PSU staff member, Gary Smith, offered their personal lived experience as immigrants. The event allowed time for question and discussion with the audience.  This is a link to a Collegian article on this event.
  • Educating for Social Justice and the Preservation of Mayan Culture, Language and Historical Memory. November 16, 2016, 5:00 PM
    Speaker Session - A survivor of a genocidal scotched-earth war as a child, Juana Pérez Gómez, a Maya K’ich’e indigenous woman, described her work as a middle-school educator emphasizing social justice, gender equality, and the importance of the preservation of the Maya K’ich’e culture and language and the historical memory of her people. Light refreshments were served following the talk. Co-sponsored by: Office of Multicultural Programs of the College of Education and the Office of the Vice Provost.

Diversity Book Club (Fall 2017)
The idea was a weekly meeting in which the group would discuss a chosen reading. The selection of essays by various authors, “The Fire This Time” by Jesmyn Ward was selected to read and discuss.  Due to lack of interest/attendance, this group met only once.

Bullying Among Diverse Populations:  A Justice Education Workshop. Saturday, January 28, 2017, 9am-4:30pm, Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, Garden Room
Dr. Seria Chatters and Dr. Carlos Zalaquett led this full-day workshop for undergraduate students and staff on bias-based bullying with the collaboration of faculty and graduate students from Counseling Education.  

Diversity in Education Conference & Workshop:  Preparing for the Future: Educating ALL Students in ALL Spaces February 11, 2017, 9:00-1:30pm, Chambers Building
Dr. J. T. Taylor guided the organization of this conference which was student-initiated and organized by the student members of the Penn State Student Council for Exceptional Children. Sessions were offered by graduate students and faculty of the College of Education and the conference was attended by over 100 undergraduate students.

Staff Unity Day, February 17, 2017, All Sports Museum -
This staff ‘Unity Day’ was a College of Education community building event for staff which included a tour of the PSU All Sport Museum, a showing of the video chronicling the creation of the iconic ‘We Are’, and was followed by a facilitated discussed on inclusion and diversity. It used the "We Are" video as a starting place to encourage participants to embrace the ‘We Are’ theme of PSU. The event was attended by 33 staff and was enjoyed by all.

Safe Zone for LGBTQ training, March 31, 2017, 9:00-12:00pm.   
The Safe Zone program (offered by the LGBTQA Student Resource Center) is a campus wide initiative designed to raise visibility about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) population. The training was offered for staff and faculty of the College of Education and attracted 19 attendees.

Collaborative Art Project (in progress)  
This project grew out of the Staff Unity Day event and will result in a large public artwork to be displayed in Chambers Building. The effort is organized and will be completed by staff members of the College.  The Staff Subcommittee has contracted with artist Amanda Kunkel of Miena Kay Etc to guide development of a design schematic which expresses ideas of diversity and inclusion for the artwork to be collaboratively created during the next year.

Annual Staff Retreat, the 2nd annual staff retreat was held May 19, 2017 from 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the BJC Founders Lounge with 32 College staff in attendance. Charleon Jefferies and Peggy Lorah were the facilitators of the presentations surrounding community building and diversity awareness.  

Social Justice in Education minor (in progress) The College of Education’s Social Justice in Education minor will support the development of critical competencies, values, and ethics in relation to educational diversity (in its many forms), equity, and social justice. The minor employs interdisciplinary, experiential coursework to create a space   for students from across the University to construct critical and thoughtful understandings of injustice and to demonstrate—through educationally-based leadership and action—a commitment to educational and social equity. This is accomplished through interdepartmental collaborations and community partnerships. 

I.  Staff Subcommittee Report

Leader:  Samantha Walker

Members:  Samantha Walker, Amity Maines, Wanda Wasilko, Christine Andrus (2016), Linda Oishi, Susan Bass, Gary Abdulah, Greg Kelly

The Staff Subcommittee wrote its own Mission Statement in 2016-2017 in order to focus its efforts. 

Mission Statement:  To create opportunities for the College of Education staff which encourage, expose and increase awareness of diversity.

The Subcommittee grew in the number of participants as well as with new initiatives to bring together the staff of the college.  There is definitely appreciation and excitement in the air among the staff of the college that see the fruitful efforts of this staff subcommittee under the DCEC.  We planned the 2nd annual staff retreat and worked towards the new ideas of ‘exploring the campus’ while incorporating diversity topics (Unity Day); as well as planning for a tangible, collaborative staff project which will demonstrate how individual contributions of various degrees produce beautiful, long-lasting results (the paint project).  The subcommittee is already planning for 2017/18 events such as:  the staff retreat, continued work on the paint project, and exploring ideas of ‘outings’ on campus, as well as promoting the subcommittee for broader participation.

II.  Undergraduate Subcommittee Report

Leaders:  Efrain Marimon, Ashley Patterson

Members:  Ashley Patterson, Efrain Marimon, Dana Stuchul, Elizabeth Smolcic, Maryellen Shwaub, Ravinder Koul, Shannon Telenko, Maria Schmidt, Jeanine Staples, Liliana Garces, Gabriela Richard, Gail Boldt, Allison Henward, Nkenji Clarke,

Over the past few years, the Undergraduate Subcommittee of DCEC has focused its work to address the needs uncovered through the 2013-2014 survey administered to over 400 undergraduates to query their perceived needs and interests in diversity education during their College experience.   The Social Justice in Education minor continues in its development phase. During the 2016-2017 year, the subcommittee met to discuss the minor overall in terms of its organization and goals as well as the skills and dispositions students who complete the minor will embody. As a part of this process, the following tasks were completed: 1) development of core competencies to be included in minor courses, 2) an extensive review of existing university courses that may align with the minor’s goals and could serve as elective courses, and 3) the core courses necessary for development were identified.  The organization of the minor will include a three-course foundation including the following: “Foundations of Social Justice in Education;” “Curriculum, Pedagogy and Social Justice;” and an elective from a list of pre-approved existing courses across the university. The second layer of the minor will be field-based and will involve students taking two field-based courses from a list of approved courses that feature a critical level of immersion in the field as a portion of the class. As a culminating course, students will complete a Capstone course in which they will bridge the theoretical knowledge they have built throughout the course of the minor with the understanding of practice gained via lived experiences of the field-based courses.  After several discussions with college-level administration and key department chairs, it was determined that the minor will be put forward with C&I as it’s departmental home, rather than submitting it as a college level EDUC minor, another option that was explored.  Preliminary consultation conversations were conducted with parties across the college and university who may have interest or potential overlap with the minor. A prospectus document was developed that is planned to be submitted during the Fall 2017 semester. 

III. Faculty & Graduate Assistant Subcommittee

Leader:  Carlos Zalaquett

Members: Carlos Zalaquett, Amy Crosson, J.T. Taylor, Kaleena Selfridge, Seria Chatters, Kimberly Powell, Chris Andrus, Elizabeth Smolcic, Sarah Stager, Jeanine Staples,  

The committee chose to organize and present several public events based on topics that were frequent topics of discussion during the pre-presidential election period including immigration, social justice/equity education, taking up perspectives from both our own country and abroad.  The film and speaker series, Uprooted and Rerooted: Stories of Loss, Resilience and Social Change, was the result of that work (outlined above).  Secondly, a book discussion group was organized to bring together staff, faculty and grad students to explore issues related to race and education.  The group met only once; we

IV.  DCEC Sponsorship Grants

No grants awarded during 2016-2017

Budget Report – DCEC, 2016-2017




Amount Charged

Amount Deposited





DCEC Gathering





DCEC Gathering





DCEC Gathering




Dunkin Donuts

DCEC Gathering



9 /26/16


Rodas reservation




Maria Rodas

payment & mileage





book club





Film-maker dinner





Film-maker lunch




MacKinnon's Café

5 waters for panel




Berkey Creamery

DCEC Fall Gathering





DCEC Fall Gathering





Bias-bullying Workshop




Pasquerilla Center

Bias-bullying Workshop




All Sports Museum

Tour for Staff




Campus Catering

Snacks for Diversity in Education Conference





Snacks for Bullying Among Diverse Populations





DCEC Gathering




Pie Collective, LLC

Refund from previous fiscal year




BJC Catering

Staff Retreat 5/19/17





Room rental 9/27/17 Bullying workshop





Room rental 1/27/18 2nd Bullying workshop




Penn State Copy Center

Sample bookmarkers




Lindsay Hayes

Budget amendment for Lindsay Hayes for pod cast




Miena Kay Etc

Paint Project Invoice #1