UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Johnathan White, history lecturer at Penn State Greater Allegheny, has been selected to receive the 2020 Dr. James Robinson Equal Opportunity Award.
The award, sponsored by the Penn State Alumni Association, was established in 1988 and renamed in 1998 to honor the late James Robinson, a distinguished alumnus and former member of the Alumni Council. It recognizes a full-time faculty or staff member with at least two years of active service who has promoted equal opportunity through affirmative action and/or contributes to enhancing the educational environment of the University through improving cross-cultural understanding.
Colleagues called White a scholar and skilled intellectual leader who is committed to using his craft to elevate oppressed and marginalized people. He’s credited with being a leader of community organizations, religious institutions and art groups where he’s a mentor to young people while addressing social injustices.
“White’s work at Penn State is truly a labor of heart, soul and mind, and demonstrates his deep commitment to lifting up the next generation and all those around him,” a nominator said. “We are fortunate to have this public intellectual at Penn State.”
White’s commitment to improving diversity and opportunities for underrepresented people at Penn State and beyond include:
- Through the Stewart and Jones Scholar Leadership Program, White mentors young African American men during their transition from high school to college. Colleagues said White’s mentorship extends far beyond the classroom as he reaches out to athletes, fathers and victims of gun violence or trauma.
- As a founding member of Penn State Greater Allegheny’s Street Team, White engages in outreach and community-based education. There he volunteers for food drives, Mon Valley Launchbox and other efforts.
- As a member of Crossing Bridges Summit Committee, White helps the group envision and plan events that strive to be a catalyst for bridging racial divides.
“In classes such as history, African American studies, black arts and leadership development, White raises students’ consciousness as he challenges them to understand historical conditions that led to current social, economic and cultural experiences for all people,” a nominator said. “White is able to move fluidly across references of history, literature and the arts as he connects students’ current knowledge to new and often challenging information.”