Introducing the UCI Black Thriving Initiative

Dear Campus Community,

I am writing to announce the UCI Black Thriving Initiative, a far-reaching and ambitious vehicle for institutional transformation. In response to the protests against police violence directed at Black people and the persistence of systemic anti-Blackness, Chancellor Gillman on May 31 called for an unprecedented campus response to this national imperative.

The UCI Black Thriving Initiative recognizes and responds to anti-Blackness as an existential threat to our mission as a public research university. By depriving Black people of their full participation in society and in university life, anti-Blackness compromises UCI’s capacity to educate, discover, create and heal. It therefore demands a whole-university response. This response relies on each member of our campus community linking their future to the success of Black students, faculty and staff, as well as alumni and communities served by UCI.

The UCI Black Thriving Initiative consists of four university priorities:

  • Improve our campus culture by intentionally confronting anti-Blackness.
  • Intensify recruitment and improve success of Black undergraduate and graduate students in our academic programs.
  • Leverage our research and teaching mission to advance understanding of the Black experience and propel the drivers of well-being.
  • Engage with Black communities by linking UCI’s future to the success of Black people.

A full description of the initiative is available here. In support of this initiative, the campus will undertake the following:

UCI Black Thriving Initiative Faculty Cluster Hiring Program
Building on unit hiring priorities, this competitive multiyear faculty hiring program will award 10 FTEs. This program will enable academic programs to grow and accelerate existing faculty research, teaching and service activity to advance understanding of the Black experience and propel the drivers of well-being.

UCI Inclusive Excellence Term Chair Program: Black Lives Matter Thematic Focus
Every three years, this term chair program will focus on a national imperative and/or global challenge. Awarded to five faculty each cycle, these term chairs will provide an opportunity for the campus to recognize the distinguished research, teaching and service activity of incumbent faculty in contributing to the selected theme. The inaugural Black Lives Matter theme will span from 2020-21 through 2022-23.

UCI Black Thriving Institute for the Critical Study of Anti-Blackness, Racial Justice and Slavery
The institute will support interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary activity to understand the Black experience and promote the drivers of well-being. It will convene scholars and thought leaders, elevate attention to critical topics and contemporary issues, and engage and partner with the wider community.

Inclusive Excellence Leadership Development Program for Staff
A partnership of the Office of Inclusive Excellence and Human Resources, the purpose of this multifaceted leadership program is to support the advancement of women and women of color into leadership roles. Component features include job shadowing, networking, and resource mining through the lens of inclusive excellence scholarship and interventions. The goals are to equip professionals with understanding about the key levers for broadening structural diversity in staffing, to identify and develop diverse staff talent, and to systemically improve promotion pathways to senior management roles.

In responding to this national imperative, the UCI Black Thriving Initiative builds on the Inclusive Excellence Action Plan, extends the UCI Confronting Extremism program and aligns with the UC Regents’ Principles against Intolerance. Recent achievements include:

  • Appointment of the first Black dean in the history of The Paul Merage School of Busines and the only one among the six business schools in the University of California (2020)
  • Successful hiring of 13 new Black faculty – the largest number in a single recruitment cycle – in arts, business, biological sciences, education, engineering, humanities, nursing, social ecology and social sciences (2020)
  • Three UC Historically Black Universities and Colleges (HBCU) Initiative funded grants awarded to UCI Faculty (2019-2020); eight awarded since 2011
  • Enrollment of the largest number of Black first-year medical students (12) in the history of the School of Medicine (2020)
  • Among the top three destination campuses for applications from Black California-resident high school and transfer students for three consecutive years

In conclusion, the UCI Black Thriving Initiative builds a university culture in which Black people thrive. As a channel for institutional transformation at UCI, this initiative will serve as a model for higher education in the United States. To realize this aspiration, we must leverage our mission, change our culture and link our future to the success of Black communities. We must all be in this together.

#ActforInclusion

Douglas M. Haynes, Ph.D. (Pronouns: he/him/his)
Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Chief Diversity Officer
Professor of History