A Message from Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, Hal Stern | UCI Black Thriving Initiative Faculty Cluster Hiring Program Outcome ★

Stern Email Header, UCI Office of Inclusive Excellence

Dear colleagues,

I am pleased to announce the outcome of the inaugural call for proposals for the UCI Black Thriving Initiative Faculty Cluster Hiring Program. As announced last fall, the program is a competitive multi-year effort to recruit faculty who interrogate structural racism in its myriad forms. As part of the UCI Black Thriving Initiative, the program aims to build on the hiring priorities of academic units; pave new paths for research and creative expression, teaching and learning, and community engagement; generate interdisciplinary collaboration; and manifest our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

We received a total of 17 proposals, representing approximately 100 faculty, 31 departments, and across all of our schools. These numbers signal considerable enthusiasm for and participation in this important campuswide initiative. All proposals were reviewed by the Academic Planning Group (APG), the Advance Program Advising Committee (APAC), and the academic deans. I appreciate all the work that went into preparing and reviewing these proposals.

A proposal focused on Environmental Health Disparities has been selected for funding. This proposal details a compelling plan to foster multidisciplinary collaborations that seek to understand and address the ways in which environmental stress and racism contribute to health disparities in Black communities. The proposal team includes representatives from the Program in Public Health, the Henry Samueli School of Engineering, and the School of Social Sciences. The proposal includes collaboration on interschool training and education opportunities designed to improve the success of Black graduate and undergraduate students and build the foundation to seek extramural funding for a center focused on environmental health disparities. To quote the proposal, “The ultimate objective of this cluster is to build on existing UCI strengths focused on other underserved populations and advance inclusive excellence at UCI by recruiting a diverse faculty focused on environmental health disparities as a form of anti-blackness that shapes Black communities’ daily experiences.”

The project reflects the vision and attendant planning that the Black Thriving Cluster Hiring Program was designed to encourage and support. I thank the authors of the proposal for their willingness to advance our mission along the lines specified in their proposal:

  • Verónica Vieira (Lead Proposer), Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Jun Wu, Professor and Graduate Director, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Kim Fortun, Professor, Department of Anthropology
  • Salvador Zárate, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology
  • Sunny Jiang, Professor and Chair, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Christopher Olivares, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Cynthia Lakon, Associate Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Health, Society, and Behavior
  • Alana LeBrón, Assistant Professor, Department of Health, Society, and Behavior, and Chicano/Latino Studies

I look forward to working with the authors of this proposal and the pertinent deans to implement this plan to elevate UCI’s focus on environmental health disparities in ways that are consistent with our mission to generate new knowledge, educate the next generation of students, and serve the public interest. I also plan to announce another call for UCI Black Thriving Initiative Cluster Hiring Program proposals soon.

Please join me in congratulating the selected proposal team and wishing them well with next steps.


Hal Stern
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Chancellor’s Professor, Department of Statistics