Graduation Speaker

Dr. Brighid Dwyer, Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Penn Arts and Sciences

Dr. Brighid Dwyer, Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Penn Arts and Sciences, has been selected to address the College of Liberal and Professional Studies Class of 2023 at the graduation ceremony on Sunday, May 14. “LPS students are phenomenal,” says Dr. Dwyer. “One of the many ways I have been impressed by LPS students is how they remain connected and committed to Penn. It is clear that students have gained so much from their time at LPS and they remain connected to the community.”

Since joining Penn in 2021, Dr. Dwyer has provided leadership in pursuit of the School’s core commitments to achieving and maintaining excellence through diversity. She serves on the boards of the Difficult Dialogues National Resource Center, the New Leadership Academy, and Marin Academy High School, and consults with USA Swimming on their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Dr. Dwyer was previously the Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at Princeton University and the Director of the Program on Intergroup Relations at Villanova University; she was also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education and Counseling and the Department of Communication at Villanova, and an Adjunct Professor of sociology at Delaware County Community College. She has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a master’s degree and a PhD from the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Dwyer has 20 years of experience as a practitioner, scholar, and professor addressing issues of equity in higher education. “Fostering an inclusive community requires careful listening and inviting people in,” she says. “It involves showing appreciation for those around you. Inclusivity requires that trust and relationships are built, and trusting relationships take time.” In her previous roles, she worked with a wide range of campus partners to develop and implement strategies, programs, and curricula that promoted an inclusive community. She has also published numerous articles and book chapters on the topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion, intergroup dialogue, leadership, and organizational culture and identity at minority-serving institutions. As a scholar and leader in an emerging field—one that many higher education institutions only recently formalized, in order to address pressing needs in the academic community—Dr. Dwyer reflects that the relationships she has built help keep her grounded and motivated. “In a moment of contemplation, a friend said to me, ‘when your community calls you to serve, you serve, because it means that they believe in you and they want you to serve them and lead them,’” she recalls. “This has stuck with me as a reminder that I am not alone in the work that I do; my elders are with me supporting me and lifting me up; my colleagues and supporters across campus and across the country are cheering for me.”

“I want our Penn trailblazers to remember this as well—they are supported,” she adds. “LPS students are going on to shape the future of our society as leaders and trailblazers. My advice is to trust yourself. When you end up in a job that no one else has done before and you wonder how to navigate it, remember that you were chosen because others believed in you.”

The 2023 College of Liberal and Professional Studies Graduation Ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 14, in the Zellerbach Theatre at Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. For more information, see our web page for graduating students.