A message from Dean Schwartz on equity and inclusion


The following message was emailed from Dean Justin Schwartz to the Penn State College of Engineering community on June 1 in response to violence against people of color and ongoing protests across the country.

Dear College of Engineering Community,

I email today with a heavy heart and with the knowledge that this is a time of acute pain for people of color and their allies across the country and around the world. It can be tempting to lose hope, but to do so is not an option. As President Barron wrote over the weekend: “We have an obligation to fight ignorance and intolerance, model inclusivity and embrace the power that diversity represents.” That is our role as a University, as a College of Engineering, and for all of us individually as members of this community and as global citizens. We are all in this together.

Over the past few days we have heard from many across our community, wondering what they can do to help. It has been heartening to hear from such a diverse group of students, faculty, and staff — assistant professors to endowed professors, individuals from many racial backgrounds and across age groups — reaching out with a desire to show support and looking for ways to be actively involved and part of the solution. Once again it is clear that engineers at their best are about helping to solve societal problems even when the challenges are not technical in nature.

First and foremost, we can all help by educating ourselves and rooting out prejudice, racism, and discrimination in our personal lives. We can treat our neighbors and colleagues — regardless of background or the color of their skin — with dignity and respect. We can listen. We can interrupt unjust acts, offering comfort to those who are hurting, and advocating for changes to unjust policies and practices. We can serve as role models to others, showing empathy, support and understanding. We can get involved.

Work in the College of Engineering to advance equity and inclusion continues with urgency, and that work would benefit greatly from your involvement. If you fear being unequipped, “saying the wrong thing,” or being misunderstood, we implore you to engage nonetheless alongside others. Equip yourself through continued learning about allyship and inclusion. As we look to the future of this foundational priority for the college, we will be sharing opportunities in the weeks ahead for you to help advance equity in engineering. During this time of immense societal strife, let this moment increase our collective commitment to create a more just society, to engage, and to make sure our voices are heard.


Justin Schwartz, Ph.D.
Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering
Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics
Professor of Materials Science and Engineering


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Megan Lakatos