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Academic Diversity

Office of Academic Diversity Mission Statement

The Office of Academic Diversity works to strengthen and diversify the academic pipeline at UC Davis. It develops programming to advance the recruitment, retention, and promotion of faculty members whose research, teaching, and service advances multicultural perspectives in all fields of studies. It similarly supports programs aimed at graduate student success, especially for those students who may be the first in their family to pursue a graduate degree. Finally, the office recognizes that all undergraduate "Rising Scholars" are an invaluable campus resource, and therefore champions their success as well, primarily by spearheading the campus initiative to become a Hispanic Serving Institution.

Academic Diversity 2021-22 Impact and Goals

EMPOWERING FACULTY EQUITY LEADERS

By this we mean to engage faculty in designing their own solutions to some of the most difficult challenges they face. We hope to bring people out of their isolation in their perception of problems and to unite them into communities seeking a common understanding and deep learning from one another. We seek to combat the sense of disempowerment that comes from the fatigue and despair that these things are too hard to change, and to develop a generation of leaders within our institution who believe that change is possible. We emphasized that implementation could not rest solely with the administration—not only because of limited resources but because many of these solutions need to be faculty-driven in order to be successful.

In 2020-21 Academic Diversity (DEI-AD) continued their project of supporting faculty to take leadership and ownership in equity projects of their own design. 

With the $250,000 FRIENDS grant received in 2019, AD brought together 32 faculty across 21 departments in four project teams who developed and presented their projects in March of 2021. In 2021-22 DEI-AD is working to make not just one of these ideas but ALL of the ideas that came out of FRIENDS a reality.

The first project, Climate Shift, received $100,000 of the original FRIENDS grant to work over the course of one year to get to the next phase of their project. Our office's goal is to help them with their sustainability model—through grant solicitation and the development of a more long-term set offunding models—so that the work on a transformative model for addressing bad behavior at the department level can continue past the grant's conclusion in 2022.

The second project, Dialogues Across Difference, will be funded through a $250,000 2-year grant from UCOP, and work has already begun on a middle space between such notions as cancel culture and absolute Academic Freedom. In this third way, the institution takes some responsibility for providing guidance in learning spaces,which are the shared domain of students, instructors, and the institution. While many leaders in higher institution have issued statements or published opinion pieces on this issue, no other institution is piloting tactics for addressing it in the learning environment.

ELEVATING THE WORK OF DIVERSE FACULTY AS THEY SOLVE GLOBAL PROBLEMS

The other projects that came out of the FRIENDS grant are related to service and most especially the service tax that many faculty members from marginalized backgrounds experience as they seek to help students. Academic Diversity has two projects running this year to address them: ENHANCE with CAMPOS for STEM and P.L.A.C.E. with CAMPSSAH for humanities and social sciences. Both of these projects are about providing space, time, and money for faculty to advance their research projects. 

We anticipate seeing these faculty accelerate through merit and promotions processes; more importantly, many of these scholars are working on projects related to the UN's sustainable development goals. We cannot solve global problems without ensuring that these scholars are able to do their important work. In 2021-22, DEI-AD is going to seek grants in a number of areas to help continue the work of raising the profile of our scholar's work around inequity. UC Davis is a leading institution in both STEM and DEI; our Academic Diversity will be seeking more than $500,000 funding to bring these concepts together in tangible ways that elevate our faculty.

SUPPORTING EQUITABLE ECOSYSTEMS FOR STUDENT OPPORTUNITY

In 2019, the HSI Task Force recommended hiring a director to lead our Hispanic Serving Institution initiative. Hired at the beginning of FY 2021-22, the new HSI Director arrives October 1 to focus on ambitious projects to serve our "Rising" or "At Promise" scholars. During her onboarding, we will reinforce the need for sustaining existing HSI-related roles in Enrollment Management, Admissions, and Student Affairs. In collaboration with other partners across the DEI office and campus-wide, we are writing one of our first major grants targeting the intersection between UC Davis’s excellence in STEM and our excellence in DEI. If funded, we will be responding to other activities targeted by the HSI Task Force report, namely providing funds for college-and department-level transformation in fields such as Artificial Intelligence and Climate Science that mesh with our commitment to connecting students to research that returns benefit to their home communities.

MODELING EQUITY INCLUSION IN HIGHER EDUCATION

After many years of grant-funded programming and support, our Academic Diversity team recognizes that we can only make broad change in higher education by spreading the word about our success. In 2021-22, we will be developing a dissemination plan and launching new writing projects based on our institutional efforts, with the first publication, Uprooting Bias in the Academy: Lessons from the Field (based on UC Davis's NSF-ADVANCE project), available December 2021.