Faculty, staff invest in scholarships to strengthen diversity at College of Medicine
Several current and former faculty and staff physicians committed $250,000 to establish seven new scholarships and add to one already existing endowment as part of Penn State’s recently concluded Educational Equity Scholarship Matching Program.
These invested funds, doubled by the University match, will provide perpetual support for students whose gender, race, ethnic, cultural and/or national background contribute to the diversity of the student body.
Together, the gifts from faculty and staff represented 34% of the overall total of $737,000 committed by all donors during the matching program, including alumni, community leaders and corporate and foundation partners. Dr. Kevin Black, interim dean of the College of Medicine, and Lynette Chappell-Williams, vice president and chief diversity officer for Penn State Health, led the way in endowing two of the seven individually named scholarships from faculty and staff.
“It is a privilege to lead the College of Medicine,” said Black. “I’m continually inspired by the dedication of our faculty and staff and the diligence, promise and ambition of our students. When President Eric Barron announced the Educational Equity Matching Program last summer, my wife, Maria, and I knew this was one tangible way we wanted to respond to support greater diversity and inclusion at the College of Medicine and counteract the systemic injustices so prevalent in our society.”
With her scholarship, Chappell-Williams chose to honor the legacy of her father, the late Lt. Col Major Lee “Chappy” Chappell. “As a veteran, my dad knew well the responsibility and reward of serving others,” said Chappell-Williams. “I know he would be proud that this scholarship will not only help diverse students achieve their dreams, but also lead to greater equity in health care for all.”
Including Black, Chappell-Williams and other current and former employees, members of the Black Faculty and Professional Staff Association collectively established a new scholarship in honor of the College of Medicine’s first four Black alumni, all from the Class of 1974: Dr. Theodore Densley, Dr. Owen Ellington, Dr. Janiece (McIntosh) Andrews and Dr. Lewis Mitchell.
“We created the Densley, Ellington, McIntosh, Mitchell Educational Equity Scholarship not only to support underrepresented minority students, but also to honor the pioneers who laid the foundation on which many Black faculty and physicians now stand,” said Dr. Duane Williams, assistant professor of pediatrics and pediatric critical care physician at Penn State Children’s Hospital.
“Drs. Densley, Ellington, McIntosh, and Mitchell will now forever be remembered for their achievements and be tied to future generations of physicians that follow in their footsteps to make a difference throughout the Commonwealth and the nation,” added Dr. Henry Boateng, associate professor of surgery and orthopaedic trauma surgeon at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
Facing the prospect of accruing debt of more than $200,000 is daunting for students from every background. But it can be especially hard for those who come from groups historically underrepresented in higher education and medicine.
“Our research shows that cost is one of the top reasons students from these groups choose not to come here,” said Chappell-Williams. “But we also know that scholarships alone can’t erase the systemic injustice that some students face. That’s why we’re intentionally developing partnerships and support networks that will also help us build and sustain a more diverse academic community.”
The College of Medicine has established recruitment partnerships with historically Black colleges and universities, and available scholarship support will aid these recruitment efforts. Additionally, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has created a mentorship program for students and trainees at all levels to engage with distinguished alumni and faculty leaders who can share their wisdom and experience, provide guidance, and support students’ career or professional development.
Faculty interested in participating in the Diverse Student Champion Program should contact the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at email@example.com or 717-531-1012.
Although the matching program has ended, faculty and staff interested in supporting educational equity scholarships can visit engage.pennstatehealth.org/EdEquity or contact Tiffany Brandt-Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and to give.
About “A Greater Penn State”
Educational equity scholarships will advance “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.
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