In support of the Advancing Faculty Diversity (AFD) and related programs, UCOP President Janet Napolitano, with funding from the state legislature, has provided ongoing funding to support efforts in faculty recruitment and retention and to improve academic climate. In 2019-2020, $2,750,000 was dedicated to this purpose. Every year for the last six years, all UCs compete for these monies through grants. Last year, UC Davis was awarded all of three funding requests. Academic Affairs was awarded $500,000 for the UC Davis: The UC Davis Pilot Study to Prioritize Academic Excellence in Research and Contributions to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion / Phase 2: Institutionalization and $174,488 for the UC Davis: Creating an Inclusive Campus Climate through Enhanced Academic Review and the Creation of Faculty Learning Communities grants. The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for its part received a $200,000 award for its Faculty Retention and Inclusive Excellence Networks—Designing Solutions (FRIENDS) grant.
UC Vice Provost Susan Carlson and her team have created a network among the systemwide grantees, enabling robust sharing of results and best practices. On April 16 and 17, VP Carlson hosted the second convening of principal investigators and their teams to discuss the grants’ progress and lessons to date. The gathering was made especially poignant and thoughtful in light of COVID-19. Covid-19 has provoked deep reflection on how to continue to engage in the important work of diversity, equity and inclusion in the face of significant disruption to every member of our community and to our institutions.
In our dialogue with one another, we recognized that COVID-19 has highlighted how pre-existing inequities – including in higher education – are yielding disparate impacts for our students, our staff, and also our faculty. We celebrated the enormous efforts and contributions that faculty are making in the virtual classrooms, in responding to evolving research priorities, and in community engagement that ameliorates or attempts to address the uneven impacts of COVID 19 on our students and community. We supported one another with ideas, inspiration and moral support.
Related to our three grant-funded projects, Raquel Aldana and Cindy Pickett led presentations on how to support inclusive networks of faculty, prompting further ideas on virtual innovations that sustain or create community. UC Davis faculty hiring initiatives under the grant signal important institutional values—made even more significant in today’s climate— by prioritizing hires of faculty who are prepared to connect their work both individually and collectively to the University of California’s achievement of its mission to “serve society as a center of higher learning, providing long-term societal benefits through transmitting advanced knowledge, discovering new knowledge, and functioning as an active working repository of organized knowledge.” We shared with each other the various ways that UC Davis, along with other campuses, are using statements of contribution to diversity, equity and inclusion to achieve inclusive excellence in academic hiring consistent with such policies and values.
We found relevance at multiple levels, in both the existential and the mundane, affirming through our collaborations together that the work of academic diversity is a project that should be enhanced, not derailed, by calamity.