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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Penn State Law

"At Penn State Law, we are deeply committed to being a welcoming and inclusive environment for every member of our community and combatting bias and inequality wherever it exists.  Penn State Law’s Concrete Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Steps and accomplishments to date are an example of this commitment.  But we are not finished.  Looking back over three decades of service in the armed forces of the United States, I have witnessed people of varied backgrounds come together to achieve the most extraordinary results.  This is what we must do as a community at Penn State Law.  We must listen to each other in a spirit of shared humanity while acknowledging that our life experiences may be different.  We must learn from the past, understand law’s impact, and come together – courageously – to pursue justice and fulfill our highest aspirations for what our community, and our nation, can be."

James W. Houck
Interim Dean, Penn State Law and School of International Affairs
Vice Admiral, JAG Corps, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Distinguished Scholar in Residence
Director, Center for Security Research and Education


"I am honored to serve as Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Penn State Law. I come to this position as an immigration attorney, first-generation American, and first-generation lawyer, and deeply committed to equity in the law. The tragic deaths of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor — and countless other Black men and women have ignited a national conversation about systemic racism that has pervaded institutions for centuries, including the legal academy and the legal profession. Further, inequities faced by racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ persons, veterans, and first-generation students endure. Finally, international students, those with DACA and without immigration status face new challenges in the wake of changing federal policies. How do we move forward? Penn State Law should be a place where inclusion, equity, and diversity are valued in our teaching, scholarship, learning, and community beyond a piece of paper. I pledge to work towards this goal with diligence, integrity, and passion." 

Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia
Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar and Clinical Professor of Law
Founder and Director, Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic
(814) 865-3823



Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Highlights at Penn State Law in University Park

Immigration law has been one of the fastest evolving legal fields in the United States. Through the shifts and constant political discourse, Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Penn State Law in University Park associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion, Samuel Weiss faculty scholar and clinical professor of law, and director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, has been a steady voice, providing guidance and leadership. At the same time, she has led Penn State Law’s work in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Here are some of the recent highlights in Penn State Law’s DEI space.



George Floyd Memorial Scholarship Fund at Penn State Law

Penn State Law in University Park has created the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship Fund to provide financial support to a rising second-year or third-year student who is a member of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA).

Penn State University Acknowledgment of Land

The Pennsylvania State University campuses are located on the original homelands of the Erie, Haudenosaunee (Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and Tuscarora), Lenape (Delaware Nation, Delaware Tribe, Stockbridge-Munsee), Shawnee (Absentee, Eastern, and Oklahoma), Susquehannock, and Wahzhazhe (Osage) Nations.  As a land grant institution, we acknowledge and honor the traditional caretakers of these lands and strive to understand and model their responsible stewardship. We also acknowledge the longer history of these lands and our place in that history.

Penn State Law Community Messages

5/25/22 Message to the Community and Resources on shootings in Texas
10/25/21 Community Message denouncing Yiannopoulos comments and tour
8/17/2021 Afghanistan
7/19/21 Message to the Penn State Law and SIA community on DACA ruling
6/28/21 Pride Month/Day and Immigrant Heritage Month
5/25/21 The Need for Greater Justice
4/20/21 Statement on the Deadly Shootings and Ahead of the Verdict
4/5/21 Next Steps on Penn State Law Bias Reporting Efforts
3/18/21 Statement on the Deadly Shootings in Atlanta
3/1/21 Condemning Anti-Asian Violence and Supporting Asian Members of Our Community
2/16/21 Zoom Bombing Yesterday
1/30/21 Zoom Bombing at Penn State's Virtual Spring Involvement Fair
1/9/21 Advancing Rule of Law and Racial Equity
1/6/21 Statement on the Assault on the Rule of Law
10/30/20 The Profound Need for Greater Justice
9/25/20 Breonna Taylor Decision
8/28/20 Statement on Jacob Blake and the Urgent Need for Action
6/26/20 George Floyd Memorial Scholarship and Updates on Concrete Action
8/4/20 Update on International Students
7/23/20 Time Sensitive Opportunity (only until July 31) to Build Match for George Floyd Memorial Scholarship
7/14/20 ICE Policy Rescinded
7/9/20 Update on Efforts to Support International Students
7/7/20 ICE Announcement about International Students and Remote Learning for Fall 2020
6/19/20 Juneteenth Celebration and Reflection
6/9/20 Penn State Law and SIA Open Letter Against Racism for Signature
6/9/20 Announcing Professor Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia as Incoming Penn State Law Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
6/5/20 Concrete Action Steps to Make Progress
6/5/20 Concrete DEI Action Steps
6/2/20 Statement of Support for Our BLSA Students and Black Community Members
5/30/20 Supporting Each Other and Collaborating to Address Hatred and Bias



University Resources Mental Health and Counseling
Bias Resources Recommended Reading
Disability Accommodations Multimedia Resources
DACA Resources Montague Law Library resources on
Understanding and Dismantling Racism
AAPI Resources LGBTQ Resources


Penn State Law makes 'Top 65 Law Schools for Black students' list, June 15, 2022

Dean Wadhia participates in briefing with legal experts on the future of DACA, June 9, 2022

Dean Wadhia accepts mayoral proclamation marking June Immigrant Heritage Month, June 7, 2022

Resources available to Penn State community affected by mass shooting in Buffalo, May 18, 2022

Penn State Law's Outlaw join other campus groups to host LGBTQ+ law discussion, April 22, 2022

UK Rosenberg, Nebraska Law, and Penn State Law each lead diversity efforts, January 19, 2022

Penn State Law Minority Mentor Program Enters Seventh Year, Penn State Law News, September 2, 2021

Penn State Law clinic partners with admissions on resources for immigrants, Penn State News, August 11, 2021.

Penn State Law co-hosts inaugural workshop to support Asian American Women, Penn State Law News, August 9, 2021

Recent DACA decision prompts renewed calls for permanent solution, Penn State News, July 19, 2021.

Task Force on Policing and Communities of Color releases 2021 report, Penn State News, July 6, 2021.

A message from Marcus Whitehurst on Juneteenth, Penn State News, June 15, 2021.

Inaugural Workshop for Asian American Women in the Legal Academy
August 5, 2021, and August 6, 2021

Asian Americans: Good Americans Screening & Panel by WPSU, WPSU, May 27, 2021.

Senate passes diversity and equity resolutions in final meeting of the year, Penn State News, May 5, 2021.

How to Talk About Anti-Asian Racism with International Students, University of Kentucky Office of China Initiatives, April 29, 2021.

Panel Resource List

Police Release Names of 8 Victims in Indianapolis Shooting, The New York Times, April 18, 2021.

Penn State leaders share message ahead of expected verdict in Minneapolis, Penn State News, April 18, 2021.

Joint Statement from Eight Indianapolis-Area Gurdwaras Following Fedex Facility Shooting, The Sikh Coalition, April 17, 2021.

SAALT Stands in Solidarity with Sikh Siblings, South Asian Americans Leading Together, April 17, 2021.

Hate Crime Investigation, State College Police Department, April 16, 2021.

Penn State Law Moderated Panel and Diversity Banquet, Penn State Law in University Park, April 22, 2021.
Moderated Panel with Dean Ferguson, Dr. Deo, and Dean Wadhia (Moderator) - 4:15 p.m. - 5:15 p.m. ET
Annual Diversity Banquet: WE ARE Still Speaking - 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. ET



DREAMers & Their Dreams Deferred: DACA and The DREAM Act: Michael A. Olivas, Penn State College of Education, April 23, 2021.



Justice Education Week: Keynote: Angela Davis, Penn State College of Education, April 19, 2021.

There's a lack of diversity in Centre County government. Candidates are trying to change that, Centre Daily Times, April 11, 2021.

Centre County's Asian American community not 'OK' as hate crimes rise, racism stoked around U.S., Centre Daily Times, March 23, 2021.

Community Conversation on Anti-Asian Racism, Penn State Law in University Park, March 22, 2021.


Minority Mentor Program Mid-Semester Virtual Mixer, Penn State Law in University Park Minority Mentor Program, March 19, 2021.

What's in a Name? Discussing the Importance of Pronouns & Pronunciation
Penn State Law in University Park Student Bar Association Law & Equity Committee
March 16, 2021


The Immigration Conversation Podcast featuring Penn State Law alum, Fragomen Immigration Law Firm, February 25, 2021.

Penn State Law Prepares Students for JAG Corps, Penn State Law, February 17, 2021

White Supremacy and the Law: A Discussion on Racism and Antisemitism in the Legal System
Penn State Law in University Park Jewish Law Students and Black Law Students Association
February 16, 2021


The Biden Administration is Ending Use of Term "Illegal Alien" in Many Government Communications, Buzzfeed News, February 16, 2021.

Rapid Response Briefing: What's Next?: The Future of DACA in Regards to Litigation, Executive Action & Legislation, Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, January 26, 2021.


Executive Order on Enabling All Qualified Americans to Serve Their Country in Uniform, The White House, January 25, 2021.

Student Code of Conduct updated with task force recommendations, Penn State News, January 20, 2021.

Virtual roundtable focuses on racial equity and the rule of law, Penn State Law, January 15, 2021.

Roundtable Discussion & Community Dialogue: Advancing Rule of Law and Racial Equity
January 14, 2021





Penn State campus communities to commemorate, celebrate Martin Luther King Jr., Penn State News, January 11, 2021.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Celebration to be held virtually on Jan. 15, Penn State News, January 11, 2021.

A message from President Barron on violence in nation's capital, Penn State News, January 6, 2021.

Racism, bias, and community safety recommendations discussed during town hall, Penn State News, December 9, 2020.

Draft reports on racism, bias, community safety initatives posted for review, Penn State News, December 3, 2020.

Penn State Law collaborates to establish new diversity scholarships, Penn State News, October 28, 2020.

Penn State joins with higher education groups to oppose visa rule change, Penn State News, October 27, 2020.

Penn State joins others in asking for Executive Order to be rescinded, Penn State News, October 19, 2020.

Penn State ranks among top LGBTQ-friendly schools for commitment and inclusion, Penn State News, October 14, 2020.

Ad Hoc Civilian Oversight Board Study Committee's concludes second public meeting, Daily Collegian, October 2, 2020.

Task Force on Policing and Communities of Color is reconvened with more partners, Penn State News, September 30, 2020.

Penn State College of Liberal Arts Film Screening & Conversation, October 8, 2020, 4:30 p.m. (screening), 6:00 p.m. (panel)

New Immigration Rules Will Have Big Impact on International Students, Forbes, September 28, 2020.

New resources available for underrepresented, marginalized faculty members, Penn State News, September 28, 2020.

Proposed Regulation on the Change of Admission Period of F, J, and I Nonimmigrants from Duration of Status: What You Need To Know, Penn State Law Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic, updated September 27, 2020.

Penn State Law Alum, Isa Ferrera.

Task force shares progress, recommendations following review of code of conduct, Penn State News, September 17, 2020.

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month at Penn State, Penn State News, September 11, 2020.

Penn State Law Minority Mentorship Program Enters Sixth Year with Virtual Kickoff Reception, Penn State Law, September 1, 2020.

Big 10 Law School Speaker Series: Perspectives on Race, Law, and Equality, September 1 - November 17, 2020.

2020 Law Student Diversity Scholarship, DRI, August 2020.

DACA Through the Critical Systems Thinking (CST) Lens: Unpacking Racialization in Administrative Law, by Raquel Muñiz, Yale Journal on Regulation, August 18, 2020.

New Student Orientation Presentation with Dr. Heather Bennett, Pennsylvania School Boards Association, August 18, 2020.

Remove the Sword of Damocles from DACA, Jurist, August 12, 2020.

International Students and Remote Learning in Fall 2020: What You Need To Know, Penn State Law Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic, updated August 11, 2020.

Protecting Human Rights, State College Magazine, August 1, 2020.

International Students Seeking Entry to the United States, Penn State Law Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic, July 31, 2020.

Trustee committee explores impact of COVID on underrepresented students, Penn State News, July 17, 2020.

Where do new international students stand?, Inside Higher Ed, July 17, 2020.

Top 5 Immigration Policies of 2020: Midyear Report, Law360, July 14, 2020.

Penn State Virtual Town Hall Recording: International Student, Immigration, and Remote Learning, July 14, 2020.

Penn State 'very pleased' after White House, ICE rescind rule that threatened international students, Centre Daily Times, July 14, 2020.

International Students and Remote Learning in Fall 2020: What You Need to Know, Penn State Law Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic, updated July 14, 2020.

Penn State joins amicus brief in support of international students, Penn State News, July 13, 2020.

Penn State Virtual Town Hall: International Student Immigration and Remote Learning, Tuesday, July 14, 8:00 p.m. (EST)

ICE says students taking 'hybrid' classes may be able to stay in the US, but it won't tell colleges what that means, Insider, July 9, 2020.

An 'Untenable Situation', Inside Higher Ed, July 9, 2020.

Penn State in support of rescission and Harvard/MIT's lawsuit against Dept. of Homeland Security and ICE, Penn State News, July 8, 2020.

UC will sue Trump administration over new international student visa rules, CalMatters, July 8, 2020.

Arizona International Students Expected to be Largely Unaffected by New ICE Rules, Fronteras, July 7, 2020.

Penn State Law Announces Wadhia as Incoming Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Penn State Law News, July 1, 2020.

Penn State Law in University Park Creates George Floyd Memorial Scholarship Fund, Penn State Law News, July 1, 2020.

What the borough council's racial justice resolution means for the State College community, policing, Daily Collegian, June 26, 2020.

Barron to host June 29 Town Hall on race and bias, Penn State News, June 25, 2020.

Iris Richardson embraces role as Penn State University Police's first director of diversity, equity and inclusion, Daily Collegian, June 24, 2020.

Resolution 1258 — Demanding Racial Justice, Equity and Inclusion, Engage State College, June 23, 2020.

Black Law Students Association Hosts Events to Combat Racism, Penn State Law, June 19, 2020.

How rule of law saved DACA, for now, The Christian Science Monitor, June 19, 2020.

DACA: Some Thoughts, Some Links, Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia for Medium, June 18, 2020.

‘Change the Code’ campaign hopes to fight racism at Penn State, Daily Collegian, June 17, 2020.

Law Deans Antiracist Clearinghouse Project, The Association of American Law Schools, June 2020.

Liberal Arts dean examines the history of civil rights and civil unrest, Penn State News, June 9, 2020.

Discussing Race in America with former Penn State Law student, Dr. Dwayne Wright, J.D., Ph. D., June 9, 2020.

Members named to President's Commissions for Equity, Penn State News, April 24, 2019.

DACAmented Law Students and Lawyers in the Trump Era, Penn State Law News, June 7, 2018.

BUILDING BONDS: Penn State Law Supports Minority Students Via Mentorship, Insight Diversity, June 29, 2016.

Penn State Law Launching Mentoring Program for Minority Students, March 20, 2015.