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Pennsylvania State University said this week that it won’t be launching a Center for Racial Justice after all, despite this being a key 2020 recommendation of the Select Penn State Presidential Commission on Racism, Bias and Community Safety. Spotlight PA previously reported that President Neeli Bendapudi questioned whether the university would fund the center in a meeting last month with the search committee for the center’s director. Following that meeting, members of the search committee reportedly wrote to Bendapudi of their disappointment, saying in a memo, “Juxtaposing the assurance that restorative and racial justice are a core concern for the university with the inability to fund a research center as the major first step in addressing important issues is therefore all the more surprising and distressing.” The national search for a center director began in March.

Bendapudi confirmed in a campus message this week that the university was investing in existing initiatives instead of the new center. “There is remarkable DEIB [diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging] scholarship and practice underway by current faculty, staff and students across the University, and we remain deeply committed to continuing to build on the foundation of scholarly research and programming around racism and racial bias at Penn State,” Bendapudi wrote. “I have determined that enhancing support for current efforts by people who know Penn State best will be more impactful than investing in a new venture, and so we will not pursue efforts to launch a Center for Racial Justice.” Penn State reported a $127 million deficit last year and has initiated spending cuts to balance its budget.