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Kathryn Pletcher Honored for Commitment to Diversity

Pletcher was recognized for enhancing diversity through her work with the college's students, families and faculty. 

"Kathy Pletcher joined the Office for Undergraduate Education in 1994. At that time, the concept of cultural diversity was understood in the office of Dr. William Henson, where Kathy began her career as a receptionist," said Audrey Maretzki, professor emeritus of food science and nutrition, a nominator.

"Kathy realized how important it was for her to assist Dr. Henson in creating a welcoming environment for students as well as their parents. Although Kathy may not readily identify herself as a Native American, she clearly understands, appreciates and advocates for cultural diversity."

Pletcher is a member of the Penn State Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity and serves on the commission's team to provide a staff development symposium this fall for diverse staff. Pletcher, a Native American, also has volunteered to help in the planning of a major Native American diversity event funded by the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity.

In 2011, Pletcher volunteered to plan and execute a project related to the College of Agricultural Sciences' strategic diversity goal to make the Office for Undergraduate Education more visually attractive and diverse in both gender and ethnicity. She created photo collages that illustrated each of the academic majors in the college and highlighted the visual diversity (culture, nationality, gender and age) among the student body. 

Pletcher also played an important role in supporting a cultural engagement course that enables Penn State students to learn from the Ojibwe on the Red Lake, Leech Lake and White Earth reservations in northern Minnesota about their ceremonies, lifestyles and indigenous ways of knowing. She has promoted its educational value, has encouraged student enrollment, and was instrumental in establishing it as a permanent course in May 2015.

She also assisted Madison Miller, a 2016 graduate and past president of the Student Society for Indigenous Knowledge, with her Schreyer honors thesis, which focused on designing a high school Native American curriculum based on the input of Native American faculty, staff and students at Penn State. Pletcher provided information about educational experiences of three generations of her Ojibwe family.