|GSE Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs and Diversity: Jessie Harper
July 16, 2013,
Volume 60, No.1
Dr. Jessie Harper, has recently been appointed GSE’s Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs and Diversity. She is the driving force behind the school’s new Diversity @ Penn GSE website. Dr. Harper joined GSE in 2004 as Manager for Faculty Affairs and earned two master’s degrees—a master of science in education and a master of science in organizational dynamics—while working full-time at the School. She also earned her EdD in the Executive Program in Work-Based Learning Leadership (now PennCLO) offered by Penn GSE and The Wharton School.
Dr. Harper eagerly embraces her newly expanded role at GSE. “Current scholarship outlines several compelling reasons for institutions to engage in efforts to diversify their faculty ranks,” she said. “For one thing, students benefit from the support and mentoring of a diverse faculty. In fact, if an institution’s faculty is not diversified it sends a clear message to students of color about their prospects for becoming a tenured faculty member. There’s also the contribution to the curriculum, in that a campus presence of faculty of color broadens opportunities for introducing different perspectives, pedagogical approaches, and professional collaborations. In addition, faculty diversity is valuable for preparing students to participate in a global and diverse marketplace.”
“We’re proud of our ongoing work to create a diverse environment for faculty, staff and students,” said GSE Dean Andy Porter. “We’ve deepened our commitment with the appointment of Jessie Harper as Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs and Diversity and the launch of a website dedicated to diversity at GSE. This is a constantly evolving effort, and we hope that these new resources continue to strengthen our community.”
The two areas of Dr. Harper’s work as Assistant Dean—faculty affairs and diversity—are intertwined. “My role is to assist GSE in its goal of creating and maintaining an even more diverse faculty along the lines of race, ethnicity, gender, and intellectual interests, and thereby prepare GSE students to succeed and flourish in a pluralistic society,” she said. She is involved in hiring, tenure reviews, promotions, and the appointment of secondary and adjunct faculty. She also serves as GSE’s contact with the Provost.
The Diversity website marks only the beginning of her efforts to promote diversity at GSE. “Next year we plan to administer climate surveys to all GSE faculty, staff, and students of color to assess the emotional morale, challenges, mentoring access, and diversity of course offerings,” she said.