Diversity Timeline 1980s


Tuesday, January 1, 1980

Throughout the 1980s the Christian Association (CA) organized "Central America Week at Penn." The CA sought to honor a missionary, Oscar Romero, killed in El Salvador.

The Afro-American Studies program held their 6th annual spring symposium addressing "New Black Middle Class Prospects" at the International House. Speakers included Toni Morrison, Frank Yerby and Harvard Professor Martin Kilson.


Saturday, January 1, 1983

Edwin Meese, presidential counselor, and Wharton School Dean Russell E. Palmer were honored in Washington, DC at a ceremony promoting the LEAD Program. LEAD is described as "a pioneering attempt to strengthen minority enrollment in the nation's leading business schools." In the program, talented minority high school students are exposed to business curricula during the summer, to encourage them to pursue business education at the collegiate level. Penn was the first business school to participate and was soon followed by Northwestern, University of Michigan, Columbia, University of Maryland, University of Virginia, and the University of California at Los Angeles.

Wharton hosted a conference on how to increase private enterprise in Africa. "The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School will host the first known conference of U.S. and African academic, business and government figures designed to promote the private sector, and especially small business development, in Africa." A number of participants attend, including: US Congressman William Gray III; His Excellency Edem Kojo, former secretary general of the Organization of African Unity; Wila d. Mung' Omba, president of the African Development Bank; His Excellency Siteke Mwale, special assistant to the President of Zambia for regional cooperation; and His Excellency Marcelle Cross, Minister for International Cooperation, Guinea. "The Symposium on Economic Conditions and Developments in Africa, coordinated by Wharton's Entrepreneurial Center, will explore bilateral policy development by the U.S. and African states to promote strong economic partnerships and strategies consistent with the African conditions, according to Professor of Management Edward Shils, director of the Entrepreneurial Center. The conference is an activity of the new Wharton-Africa Entrepreneurial Project, directed by A. Romeo Horton and Edward Willis. Horton, a senior consultant at Wharton, is former Liberian secretary of commerce, and former president and founder of the Bank of Liberia. Willis, a lecturer in entrepreneurial management at Wharton, is currently a State Department consultant on small and medium sized business development in Africa."

Sunday, January 1, 1984

The Albert M. Greenfield Intercultural Center opened to promote an appreciation of minority contributions to American society and issues concerning minority groups on campus.

Tuesday, January 1, 1985

The Harnwell House Latin American Residential Program was started with the goal of "exploring and celebrating Latin American Cultures. LARP fosters an appreciation for Latin American languages, politics, forms of cultural expression, and most importantly a sense of community."

President F. Sheldon Hackney called for donations to an organization started by former Penn professor and 1969 Nobel-prize nominee in literature, Ezekiel Mphalele, the Council for Black Education and Research. The Council was described as,

  • a non-formal educational organization operated by black educators in the segregated townships of South Africa....Zeke Mphalele has relinquished the secure life of a tenured professor at Penn and returned into the jaws of apartheid to try to overcome the South African regime's efforts to force ignorance upon blacks. We at Penn, who were also blessed with the chance to call Martin Luther King one of our own when he attended classes here, whole-heartedly support Mphalele's mission of non-violence and understanding.
Helen, O. Dickens, M.D.

Thursday, January 1, 1987

Penn released a report on Minority Permanence and stated, "In 1978, when undergraduate minority recruitment efforts were intensified, the number of minority students in the entering freshman class was 11.4%. Today it stands at 19.5%, [a] 71% percent increase in less than a decade. During this same period, applications from minority students have jumped from 931 to 2,818, and the number of minority students who are admitted has more than doubled from 524 to 1,140."

The report continued to outline a number of important programs established to encourage minority achievement, from partnerships with West Philadelphia schools to the following

  • PENNCAP: University of Pennsylvania Commonwealth Achievement Program, it provides academic counseling, tutorial and referral services to 150 disadvantaged students who are residents of the Commonwealth of PA. The program has a successful history with high retention and graduation rates.
  • PRIME Program: starting in 8th grade students are offered special courses in reading, math and other subjects along with field trips and various summer opportunities. Additionally all are given college and career counseling. The report notes PRIME has over 3,000 students enrolled.
  • Upward Bound: started in 1979, Upward Bound annually offers 90 high school students or veterans the chance to strengthen their academic skills and learn about the college experience through a campus program. The program has experienced success, evident in high test scores and graduation rates.
  • Furthermore, the report mentions President Hackney's decision to include race as the subject of a University-wide dialogue through his President's Forum, a series of lectures and workshops entitled "Color lines: The Enduring Significance of Race."

Notable minority staff employed as of 1987:

  • Houston A. Baker, Jr., Albert M. Greenfield Professor: a nationally acclaimed poet, historian, and critic of Afro-American culture. Dr. Baker was named a Guggenheim Fellow in 1979 and has also received fellowships from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship for Minority Scholars, and the National Humanities Center.
  • Helen, O. Dickens, M.D., the School of Medicine's associate dean of minority affairs and professor of medicine in obstetrics and gynecology, has been honored for her decades of teaching and research with honorary doctorates from both the Medical College of Pennsylvania and the University of Pennsylvania. In recent years, Dr. Dickens has focused her work on pregnant teenagers and the issues that they and their medical providers must confront.
  • Howard E. Mitchell, UPS Professor of Human Resources and Management in the Wharton School, has devoted much of his scholarly attention in recent years to the study of the management of human resources in urban transportation. Dr. Mitchell was appointed Scholar-in-Residence at the Rockefeller Foundation Study Center in Bellagio, Italy in 1980.

Sunday, January 1, 1989

The Black Wharton Undergraduate Association held its first forum on the 'Political Ramifications of Black Economic Development' (March 22). The forum was designed to facilitate a discussion on issues facing the African American community and African American business professionals.