Emil L. Cunningham

Originally from South Bronx, New York City, Cunningham is a two-time Penn State alumnus, having received his masters of education in college student affairs and his doctorate in higher education. His doctoral research focused on how underrepresented groups within predominantly white institutions utilize safe spaces to develop a sense of belonging with their universities. He received and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Vassar College. 

Cunningham entered this role after serving as the senior executive associate at Rankin & Associates Consulting, where he’s worked with more than two dozen colleges and universities across the country to create and foster inclusive campus climates. In this capacity, he worked collaboratively with campus partners. He served as an advocate to give voice to often underacknowledged populations – including hourly staff, contract staff, and disenfranchised or underrepresented students – at all levels of the institution, as a means to create systemic and systematic change. 

He is a class of 2020 LEADERSHIP (formerly Leadership Centre County) graduate. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Centre Safe, a local organization whose mission is to empower survivors of sexual or domestic violence and to work toward the elimination of such violence. And he is a member of several local and national organizations, including the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education; the American College Personnel Association; Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.; and the Pennsylvania Black Conference on Higher Education.