The Impact of the James Brister Society on Penn
Since its creation in 1993, the James Brister Society (JBS) has expanded its membership, its impact on student, faculty and administrators of color, and its overall mission at the University of Pennsylvania. Originally created in 1993 as a development initiative called the "Committee for Minority Permanence," the alumni organization was formalized as a separate entity and renamed in 1995 for the first known graduate of color. Now the Co-Chairs of JBS serve on the Board of Trustees and the Board of Penn Alumni.
The organization has accomplished a great deal for the University, including but not limited to an endowed scholarship, an emergency grant fund and a faculty and student leadership award. We have also hosted two receptions to bring together faculty of color from around the University. JBS also serves as a vehicle for alumni to contribute to the University's diversity-related initiatives, and a possible path or "pipeline" to positions of leadership at Penn. Since the JBS' inception, nine members have become members of the Board of Trustees and an estimated six members have been invited to serve on the Boards of Overseers for Penn's various schools. The James Brister Society's impact can be felt throughout the University, from the Office of the President to our distinguished faculty and administrators and our students.
The most significant area in which JBS continues to thrive is the innovative and compelling programming for constituents and membership. The following are some examples of the contributions JBS has made to the University:
Annual Faculty & Student Leadership Awards Reception - Recognition of outstanding faculty member and student leader who exemplify JBS mission
Freshmen Welcome Dinners - Local JBS members open their homes to new students
Panel Discussions for Students
2002 Symposium "Achieving Equal Opportunity & Diversity in Higher Education"
2003 10th Anniversary Celebration at National Constitution Center honoring Penn's Administrators of Color
2005 2nd Reception for Faculty of Color
2006 125th Anniversary of James Brister: Penn's Compact with People of Color
Alumni Weekend Panel on Economic Inclusion for People of Color
Homecoming Panel on Access to Education for People of Color
Production of Landmark Documentary: "Towards Inclusion: Diversity at Penn"
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In recognition of their active volunteers, JBS leadership has provided members with stimulating presentations on topics of interest to them, including: Penn's college house system; a research project conducted by Dr. Margaret Beale Spence and Br. Howard Stevenson from the Graduate School of Education; a presentation on Philanthropy by Dean Richard Gellas, School of Social Policy and Practice; regular updates on student financial aid and admissions; and a tour of campus real estate development from the Office of Facilities and Real Estate.
The James Brister Society is poised to continue to make a difference, and invites you to join in the ongoing effort to promote diversity at Penn.