Penn State Required to Gather Additional Data on Ethnicity, Race

UNIVERSITY PARK – To comply with new federal requirements for the collection and reporting of racial and ethnic data by the nation’s colleges and universities, Penn State must make changes to its data collection process — changes that will involve the participation of all students, faculty, and staff.

The new requirements reflect a change in the government’s data collection policy and are designed so that federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Education could all similarly collect information that more accurately reflects the increasing diversity of the nation’s population.

Penn State will re-collect data from all current students, faculty and staff using a two-part question that will allow each respondent to identify his or her ethnicity and race.

In addition, the University has already implemented a process for collecting the new data from students planning to enroll later this year. It also plans to begin collecting the same data as part of the hiring process for incoming faculty and staff.

“Our most immediate need is to collect these data from all current students, faculty, and staff,” said University Executive Vice President and Provost Rodney Erickson. “Complying with this government mandate is a top priority for Penn State as an institution, and we ask each student, faculty member, and staff member to make it a personal priority. The University’s eligibility for various kinds of federally funded student financial aid and for federal grants and contracts depends on compliance with this mandate.”

Erickson emphasized that the University will keep all individual information confidential and will report only aggregate totals in each category.

He noted that federal law has long required Penn State and other institutions of higher education to ask incoming students, and newly hired faculty and staff, to provide certain ethnic and racial information as part of an effort to create an accurate picture of the diversity of the national population.

“Now we are required to gather more comprehensive data, and are asking current students, faculty, and staff to participate as well,” Erickson said.

The collection and reporting mandate applies to all full-time and part-time students, at all levels, at all Penn State locations, including the Penn State World Campus.

All current students should visit here to participate in the data collection. They will be asked a question about ethnicity and then asked to identify their race from a multiple-choice list. Respondents may select more than one race.

Students who have questions about the process should contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity at

The University plans to collect this information from all full-time and part-time faculty and staff this fall. A request for participation will be issued at that time. In the meantime, those who want more information should contact the Affirmative Action Office at

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