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Penn is making headway on advancing faculty diversity with a series of recent appointments of presidential term professors.

Last month, the University named Chyke Doubeni and Enrique Mendoza the newest presidential term professors. They join Perelman School of Medicine faculty member Benjamin Garcia, who was named the first presidential term professor in March 2012.

These professorships serve an integral role in Penn’s Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence, which was announced in June 2011. Under the plan, Penn will support up to 10 faculty members who “contribute to faculty excellence and diversity.” Last December, President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price announced a four-year, $2 million grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts for these positions.

“Our new presidential term professors … are simply outstanding scholars and teachers, and they are the greatest proof possible that excellence and diversity go together,” Gutmann said in an email. “Penn’s Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence and our new presidential term professorship program sends the strongest possible signal that Penn is serious about our commitment to inclusive excellence.”

The Office of the Provost began accepting nominations last year and provides matching funds for presidential term professorships to schools on a case-by-case basis. As a result, there is no specific amount allocated to these professorships, according to the Office of the Provost.

Vice Provost for Faculty Lynn Lees believes that the presidential term professorships lie at the heart of the Action Plan.

“Because the appointments are developed in partnership with the schools, they reflect both important school priorities and the overall missions of the Penn Compact and the Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence — especially the compact’s goal of integrating knowledge across schools and disciplines, which is a particular strength of the three outstanding professors appointed thus far,” she said in an email.

Enrique Mendoza, who will be staying at his position at the University of Maryland until the end of the year, said the professorships highlight not only the University’s interest in racial diversity, but also intellectual diversity. Mendoza’s expertise is in international macroeconomics, and he said the appointment will provide the global connections and support system that will be necessary in advancing his research.

“Diversity is not necessarily only in ethnicity or gender but also in the intellectual diversity, which is very important to have in the field of international economics,” he said, adding that both his Mexican heritage and academic background have shaped his diverse perspectives.

Doubeni, who specializes in colorectal cancer and racial disparities in health care, said the professorships demonstrate a higher-level commitment to diversity in the administration.

“It’s important to point out that the University values diversity and rewards diverse faculty for education,” he said. “It’s very clear to me that Penn is different in its support from the highest level of the University.”

In addition, he hopes that his presence on campus will encourage students to ask questions about their own academic careers.

“We’re open to minority students and students who are interested in the work that we do and working on diversity issues,” he said. “Students should talk to any one of us about their interests if they want to seek guidance and understand that it’s possible if they want to go into an academic career or any other career.”

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