Purpose of the Council

Fostering diversity has been recognized as a core value of the academic and outreach mission, and a priority of the College.  The College must continue to attract and develop persons of diverse backgrounds to participate in its educational, research, and outreach mission; offer a curriculum that provides exposure to diverse populations and patterns of thinking; and a climate that values diverse contributions. Building on our current successes, efforts are needed to strengthen the infrastructure to facilitate effective diversity planning, implementation, and reporting processes.

Initial Broad Goals and Activities

  • Civil Rights Responsibilities — Coordinate the civil rights training program for extension educators, faculty that have an extension appointment, and faculty and staff associated with the Agricultural Experiment Station.
  • Increase the diversity of candidate pools for faculty positions
  • Create/expand professional development opportunities for faculty staff, students and extension educators
  • Increase diversity in the curriculum. Incorporate diversity concepts into current courses and create new courses that qualify for US designation.
  • Build a diversity module in the Freshman Seminar class for all new freshman and change of assignment students enrolling in the College.
  • Sponsor distinguished lectures by underrepresented professionals in the agricultural sciences fields.
  • Pursue short-term faculty exchanges and collaborative efforts with faculty from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic- Serving Institutions, and 1994 Colleges.
  • Create a diversity web page on the College Home web page.
  • Seek external funding to support diversity initiatives.


The Diversity Council meets 4-6 times per year and is composed of members representing faculty, staff, administration, extension educators and students. Agendas are set for the coming year at the first Fall meeting. Sub-committees are formed to carry-out the work of the council. Meeting dates and times are determined by use of a doodle poll.

Selected Accomplishments/Activities

The following are sponsored by the Diversity Coordinating Council:

  • The Diversity Achievement Award for faculty, staff, extension educators and administrators (annually)
  • The Diversity Achievement Award for undergraduate and graduate students (annually)
  • The Diversity Book Club (annually)
  • The Diversity Undergraduate Essay Contest
  • Welcome Reception for New Faculty and Staff in the College
  • Minority Alumni Panel Visits (bi annually)
  • College Professional Development Workshops (on-going)
  • University Professional Development Workshops (on-going)
  • Development of the 2015-2019 College Diversity Strategic Plan
  • Addition of a diversity question to the senior student survey
  • Incorporate a reporting section on diversity in the department head annual report


Lana Adams
Assistant Director of County Operations
County Offices Building
Montrose, PA 18801

570- 396-8519

Katherine Cason
Assistant Director of Programs
Penn State Extension
338 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802

Paige Castellanos
Assistant Research Professor
106 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802

William Elmendorf
Professor of Urban and Community Forestry
334 Forest Resources Building
University Park, PA 16802

Alex Hristov
Distinguished Professor of Dairy Nutrition
324 Henning Building
University Park, PA 16802

Suresh Kuchipudi
Professor of Veterinary & Biomedical Science
0000 Animal Diagnostic Lab
University Park, PA 16802

Jenneth Layaou
Director of Campus Enroll & Retention
101 Ag Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802

Laura Leites
Associate Research Professor of Quantitative Forest Ecology
312 Forest Resources Building
University Park, PA 16802

Renee Pusey
Coordinator for Talent & Professional Development
343 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802

Erikka Runkle
HR Strategic Partner
307A Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802

Original Council Membership

After several years of having become defunct, the Diversity Coordinating Council was reinvigorated and given new life in 2013.

June 2020 Statement

In light of the George Floyd at the Hands of the Police, the Diversity Coordinating council offers the following statement.