by Gibor Basri
Vice Chancellor for Equity & Inclusion
My 30 years as a professor in the Department of Astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, has given me a comprehensive perspective about the needs and desires of the students, faculty, and staff on this campus. With shifts in state policies and economic challenges over the past few decades, I have shared mounting concerns about the ability of this university to continue to reflect the rich diversity of California and the nation. In 2007, Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau, with the support of campus leadership, launched an entirely new division—the Division of Equity & Inclusion—to address these concerns as never before.
When I took on the role of vice chancellor for the Division of Equity & Inclusion the following year, I sought to establish a 10-year strategic plan for equity, inclusion, and diversity that would propel the campus into a future where three guiding principles would dictate every action we take: excellence in all that we do; equity and fair treatment for everyone on campus with respect to access to resources, opportunities, and advancement; and inclusion in an engaging and healthy campus climate in which any individual or group could feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued.
“As Berkeley takes on the challenges ahead, I am pleased with the response of the campus and hopeful about the impact at our university and beyond.”
Based on extensive consultation with campus stakeholders and colleagues nationwide, and an investigation of best practices, our strategic plan was crafted to transform this campus into a more equitable and inclusive institution. It is a strategy that emphasizes accountability by creating a new planning and assessment system for tracking our progress, and one that creates reward structures to recognize and incentivize progress.
The campus received essential support from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund to develop this strategic plan and to launch a five-year UC Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity. It’s an initiative designed to speak to every student and potential student, every professor or aspiring scholar, and every member of our staff. This comprehensive initiative will bring new faculty to the Haas Diversity Research Center to pursue work on areas from LBGTQ equity to economic disparities; expand the groundbreaking American Cultures program to include community-based scholarship courses; provide new resources for faculty mentoring and multicultural education programs; and offer grants to engage faculty, students, and staff in improving the campus climate. Undergirding this effort is a new commitment to applied research and development to help ensure targeted outcomes and goals.
As Berkeley takes on the challenges ahead, I am pleased with the response of the campus and hopeful about the impact at our university and beyond. I encourage you to check out our progress by visiting diversity.berkeley.edu.
Dr. Gibor Basri is the vice chancellor for equity and inclusion at the University of California, Berkeley, overseeing a staff of approximately 150 and a $17-million budget. His responsibilities include working with faculty, staff, and students on strategic planning and fundraising for UC Berkeley’s Initiative for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity and to carry out other key programs. An expert in “brown dwarves,” stars that cool down to planetary temperatures, Basri is an astrophysicist, who has taught at Berkeley for 25 years.