Cal U Hosts State System Summit

Nov 11, 2019

Faculty, staff, students and administrators from the 14 schools in Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education gathered at Cal U to discuss student success.


Chancellor Daniel Greenstein makes opening remarks at the 2019 State System Summit.


Fourteen universities serving 96,000 students. 

It’s a fact and also a mission statement for the 14 schools in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, whose members gathered Nov. 7-8 for “Intersectionality for Student Success,” the 2019 State System Summit, hosted by Cal U. 

More than 100 faculty, staff and students from State System schools listened to presentations on topics related to intersectionality — the ways multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism and classism) combine, overlap or intersect, especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups. 

The goal: To create campus environments where all students are more likely to succeed. 

Dr. Daniel Greenstein, chancellor of the State System, and University President Geraldine M. Jones welcomed attendees to the conference. 

“A college campus is a place where you can regularly interact with people who are not like yourself,” Greenstein said. “Those interactions help to develop tolerance, which is an element of social justice. 

“We do a lot of things right — the Frederick Douglass Institute, Title IX, multicultural student groups, women’s organizations on campuses that have advocated for equity and parity. We must always strive to do more to address the challenges of inclusion amid an increasingly diverse population.” 

The conference is a place to “learn about programs and policies that can make a difference on all our campuses,” President Jones said. “Openly addressing issues builds a campus environment where all students can thrive.” 

In addition to presentations by State System faculty and staff, Melanie Harrington, president and CEO of Vibrant Pittsburgh, discussed economic growth and diversity in our region; and Holocaust survivor Irene Skolnick, of Pittsburgh, described her Jewish family’s struggle to survive during the Nazi occupation of Poland. 

Faculty, staff and students from Cal U provided expertise during several of the presentations and poster sessions: 

  • Sheri Boyle, Sheleta Camarda-Webb and graduate students James Fulton and Anna Lotze presented “Stop the Hate: Bystander Training
  • Erica Malone presented “Intersectionality in the LGBTQ+ Community: Exploring Identities, Experiences and Challenges.”
  • Kristen Majocha, Dr. Laura Tuennerman, Andrea Cencich, Laura DeFazio, Dr. Mathilda Spencer, Suzan Mohney and Dr. Marta McClintock-Comeaux presented “Embracing Inclusion … Every Student Matters.”
  • Azadeh Block co-presented “Collaboration in Assessment: Refugee Peer Support Groups in Allegheny County
  • T. David Garcia presented “Supporting Hispanic Students by Establishing a Hispanic Faculty and Staff Campus Organization.” 

Students Felix Rivera, Natalie Trainer and Jamie Weaver presented posters on intersectionality topics. 

Taylor Phillips, a senior social work major, presented her research on the effects of environmental influencers on attitudes and social service practice. The goal was to identify factors that contribute to the development of prejudicial attitudes and find ways to address these views. 

“Self-awareness is essential as a social worker,” Phillips said. “It is very easy not to realize how many biases you have. 

“We need to recognize our personal biases, encourage familiarity with the unfamiliar by engaging in new and diverse learning experiences, and, above all, be advocates for everyone. It’s all about advocacy. If you can help someone get where they want to go, that’s what it’s all about.”