UCIBlack Thriving Initiative recognizes and responds to anti-Blackness as an existential threat to our mission as public research university. In 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.
Anti-Blackness: An Existential Threat to Our Mission
National Imperative: We Must Be In This Together
Inclusive Excellence: Accelerating Our Momentum
Negatively impacts community and sense of belonging
Compromises capacity to discover, innovate, and serve
Contradicts role as a public research university serving all
Leverage role as a grant public research university
Dismantle anti-Black sentiment as an institutional imperative
Advance understanding of the Black experience and drivers of well-being
Harness Research and Teaching to Accelerate the Understanding of the Black Experience and Drivers of Well-Being
The pervasiveness of anti-Blackness in society demands the attention of the entire research and creative enterprise of the university. This imperative requires a comprehensive approach to advancing the understanding of the Black experience and the drivers of well-being for this population. It relies on the existing infrastructure while purposefully leveraging institutional resources to fundamentally understand and accelerate change. To this end, the campus will elevate attention, intensify effort, and disseminate knowledge and creative expressions that refute anti-Blackness, promote innovative public policy solutions to structural racism, and yield practical benefits to Black communities locally, regionally and nationally. Below are campus initiatives in support of this ambitious imperative.
Building on the historic hiring outcomes of Black faculty in 2019-20, this competitive program will allocate positions across the campus for proposals that advance the understanding of the Black experience and the drivers of well-being for the Black community.
The Inclusive Excellence Term Chair (IE Term Chair) Program is envisioned to transform UCI through research, teaching, and service aligned to the priorities of its Black Thriving Initiative. The IE Term Chair program leverages the research and capacities of the campus to broaden UCI’s response to designated national imperatives.
A maximum of one proposal package per each academic unit dean may be submitted no later than 5 p.m. PT on Thursday, April 15. Nominees must be active Academic Senate members.
The purpose of the Black Thriving Institute is to harness the research and creative capacity of the campus to advance transformational change. Organized around anti-Blackness, racial justice and slavery, the Institute will support interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary activity to both understand the Black experience and promote the drivers of well-being in Black communities.
The transformation of the professoriate and knowledge workforce of the future depends on the success of Black undergraduates and graduate students thriving in academic programs across the campus. This means increasing total enrollments, growing participation in undergraduate and graduate degrees programs, expanding involvement in high impact campus programs, and eliminating differences in undergraduate graduation or graduate degree completion rates.
Culture: Culture Change through Personal, Professional and Institutional Accountability
The most ambitious goal is to dismantle anti-Black sentiment as a precondition to creating a thriving university culture for Black people. Understanding the ways that bias, prejudice and bigotry impact the lives of Black people is a choice that we must make as individuals and as a campus community. This choice requires each of us to see ourselves in relation to our Black co-workers, colleagues, and undergraduate and graduate students.
Understand your relationship to anti-Black micro- and macro-aggressions
Recognize uncredited labor that Black people expend to manage the effects of unconscious and conscious acts of bias, prejudice and bigotry
Confront anti-Blackness to build a thriving culture for Black people
This voluntary pledge to confront anti-Blackness underscores the campus inclusive excellence principles: equity, diversity, inclusion and free speech. It is not enough to expect equity for yourself without advocating for others. It is not enough to support diversity without learning about the communities that we serve. It is not enough to practice inclusion and resist building bridges of dialogue. And it is not enough to honor free speech without using it to defend inclusive excellence for all.
Take the Pledge has received over 1,000 signatories from the UCI community, comprised of faculty, staff, students and campus affiliates. We recognize those who pledge to confront anti-Blackness and build a thriving culture for Black people.
Several new courses are free and open to all UCI students, staff, and faculty, and each for completion in five weeks:
Module 1 – Anti-Blackness in the United States: Black Protest Tradition
Module 2 – Anti-Blackness in the United States: Structures and Mechanisms of De-Valuing Black People
Module 3 – Anti-Blackness in the United States: Change the Culture through Personal, Professional and Institutional Accountability
The Inclusive Excellence Certificate Program advances UCI’s commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion and free speech. It equips the campus community to appreciate UCI from the vantage points of different campus constituencies.
As the current national reckoning has underscored, policing is definitely a major focal point for change. The campus takes this seriously as part of a comprehensive commitment to inclusive excellence. A whole university approach toward safety and community conceives of the police department as serving the campus according to equity diversity, inclusion and free speech principles.
Linking the Future of UCI to the Success of Black People and Communities
At its best, our service mission reinforces the university’s research and teaching mission to grow the capacity for a thriving culture for Black people. Outreach and engagement with schools and community colleges, collaboration and cooperation with non-for-profit organizations, and consultation and partnership with leaders in business, industry and professionals together enable universities to be a more responsive and impactful partner in serving communities across the county, state and county. These efforts promote a college-going culture and increase the number of college graduates; focus attention on society’s grand challenges and develop local public policy solutions; and contributes to economic vitality of the region and the well-being of individuals, neighborhoods, and communities.
The Initiative requires a coherent strategy and purposeful execution to succeed. This is particularly the case in Orange County where Black people comprise a little less than 2% of the general population of 3 million or 60,000 people. The size of the Black community requires a strategy that is simultaneously focused and broad; engaging with Orange County while reaching Black population centers, including Los Angeles, Bay Area, and Sacramento, across the state and the nation.
The final component of the community Initiative revolves around investing in student achievement and honoring Black faculty. Currently, there are several opportunities for continued and accelerated philanthropic support.
Established in 2019 Leadership Education to Advance Diversity–African, Black and Caribbean (LEAD-ABC)is a UCI School of Medicine mission-based program aimed at producing future physicians who are committed to addressing the health needs of African, Black and Caribbean communities in California, the United States, and beyond.
Open to all majors in the School of Social Sciences.
Created by the Office of the Associate Dean with the support of SSARC, this initiative helps undergraduate students leverage their research in advancing the understanding of Black experiences. Students may submit their application until May 21, 2021. Scholarship funding varies from $100-500.
The Academic Excellence Black Scholars House is a first-year experience living learning community. Students residing in the House will learn to successfully navigate the university environment while embracing scholastic achievement and individual identity.
Last year’s murder of George Floyd focused attention on confronting systemic racism and promoting racial justice as a combined national imperative. To commemorate and reflect on these legacies as well as the strategies going forward, the Office of Inclusive Excellence will host a Toward Racial Justice conversation at 12-1 p.m. PT on Tuesday, May 25, 2021. Please join us. Your voice matters.
The artists featured in The Black Index—Dennis Delgado, Alicia Henry, Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Titus Kaphar, Whitfield Lovell, and Lava Thomas—build upon the tradition of Black self-representation as an antidote to colonialist images. Using drawing, performance, printmaking, sculpture, and digital technology to transform the recorded image, these artists question our reliance on photography as a privileged source for documentary objectivity and understanding. Their works offer an alternative practice—a Black index—that still serves as a finding aid for information about Black subjects, but also challenges viewers’ desire for classification.
Meet a few of the professors in the Department of African American Studies at the UCI School of Humanities and learn about the major! Frank B. Wilderson III, chair of the department, leads a panel with Bridget R. Cooks, associate professor of African American Studies and Art History, and John Murillo III, assistant professor of African American Studies.
This order represents the Federal Government’s final execution and fulfillment of the terms of the Emancipation Proclamation. The people to whom this order was addressed were the last group of Americans to be informed that all formerly enslaved persons were now free. The effects of this order would later be celebrated as the Juneteenth holiday.
Meet Sydney Charles and Tatum Larsen, two literary journalism majors and talented storytellers. In their new video series, “The Welcome Table with Sydney and Tatum” (named after a gospel song and short story by Alice Walker), Charles and Larsen spotlight the pivotal moments in the lives of Black faculty, staff, students and alumni in the School of Humanities.
In responding to this national imperative, UCI Black Thriving Initiative builds on the campus Inclusive Action Plan, extends the UCI Confronting Extremism Program, and aligns with the Principles against Intolerance approved by the UC Regents. Recent achievements include:
Appointment of the first Black dean in the history of the Paul Merage School of Business, currently the only one among the six business schools in the University of California (2021)
The Black Management Association BMA for Students and Alumni Launches at Merage-School (2020)
UCI Law Ranked No. 17 and Given a Grade A Among Top Racial Justice Schools by preLaw Magazine (2020)
Successful hire of 13 new Black faculty in arts, business, biological sciences, education, engineering, humanities, law, nursing, social ecology and social sciences – the largest number of African American faculty recruited in a single cycle (2020)
Michele Goodwin, UCI Chancellor’s Professor of law writes, “On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of a 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi that provides no exceptions in cases of rape or incest. What’s at stake in this case matters to the countless girls and women who have been raped — including those who, like me, were raped by a father, an uncle or another family member. … Given the importance of the Supreme Court’s deliberations this week … I felt compelled to speak out.” [Subscription required, campus-wide access provided by UCI Libraries. Sign-up here: https://guides.lib.uci.edu/nytimes]
UCI psychology undergrad Michelle Thomas receives inaugural Black Lives Matter Research Scholarship to advance understanding of Black, marginalized communities
From scholarship to community engagement to her own lived experiences, advancing understanding of Black and other marginalized communities guides Michelle Thomas’s every action. As one of the inaugural recipients of the UCI School of Social Sciences Black Lives Matter Research Scholarship, she’s gotten a funding boost for her work on intergenerational trauma in the Black community – a topic she plans to pursue further through a Ph.D. in clinical psychology after she graduates in spring.
As a little girl, Thea Alli, UCI Law ’18, dreamed of becoming an attorney. But when she enrolled in the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2001, the country was on the brink of war in the Middle East. After graduating from the academy, Alli served nine years as a personnel officer overseeing Force Support, which includes human resources for civilians and service members. She traveled the world and grew as a leader, but she never forgot her childhood dream.
Zayda Sorrell-Medina received an AAUW fellowship for $20,000 for the academic year 2021-22. She said she “was elated and couldn’t believe my eyes.” Photo by Steve Zylius
The American Association of University Women awarded $20,000 to Zayda Sorrell-Medina for the 2021-22 academic year. She were awarded an American Fellowship, which allows the Ph.D. candidate to concentrate her full energy and effort toward the progress of her degree.
A $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation will help The Institute for Meaningful Engagement at the University of California, Irvine identify and address environmental factors that are pushing underrepresented students out of STEM programs
The University of California, Irvine School of Law (UCI Law) is thrilled to announce Mario L. Barnes will rejoin the UCI Law faculty in January 2022 as full-time professor. Barnes left UCI Law in 2018 to become the Toni Rembe Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Washington School of Law. At the University of Washington, Barnes had success in creating new initiatives, advancing diversity, equity and inclusion among the faculty and students and restoring the law school to financial health.
She is recognized for training the next generation of scholars
Tiffany Willoughby-Herard, associate professor of African American studies and equity advisor in the School of Humanities at UCI, has been named the 2021-2022 recipient of the campus’ Academic Senate Distinguished Faculty Award for Mentorship – one of the most prestigious awards University of California professors can receive from their colleagues. She is recognized for making significant contributions to the university through mentorship.
Inaugural Black Studies Cluster makes space and opportunities for UCI graduate students in the humanities
As Black Lives Matter protests spread internationally last summer, faculty in UCI’s Culture and Theory Ph.D. Program convened to determine how best to support Black scholarship within the university. Together with colleagues from the Departments of English and Comparative Literature and from the Visual Studies Ph.D. Program, they launched the Black Studies Cluster, a multidisciplinary cohort of 11 incoming graduate students committed to research within the vast and vibrant field of Black studies. Recently, the Departments of History and Spanish & Portuguese have also joined the Cluster’s efforts.
Bryan Sykes, associate professor of criminology, law and society, has been awarded a $625,000 National Science Foundation grant to expand his research: “Shadow Costs: The Effect of Economic and Informational Inequality on Court-Order Compliance.”
The titular Godfather of Afropessimism, Frank B. Wilderson III, states the case best in his 2020 book Afropessimism. In a nutshell—and consider this nutshell more kola-sized than pecan—Wilderson believes that the binary frame for the world’s pathological anti-Blackness shouldn’t be whites vs. Blacks but “Slaves” (Blackfolk) vs. “Humans” (white dudes, mostly). In that construct, the structural violence legally inflicted on Black flesh on the antebellum plantation has been sustained into the 21st century. According to Wilderson, Blackfolk have never transcended slave status to become human in the eyes of the law, and are therefore still subject to routine systemic violence by various white authorities—not just the police—and routinely treated as a population who have no constitutional or human rights.
The UC Irvine School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences has announced Nana Entsuah, PharmD, as a health sciences assistant clinical professor, effective Sept. 1. In addition to her faculty role at UCI, Entsuah will also serve as a geriatric clinical pharmacist at the UCI Health SeniorHealth Center.
Baxter, known as Dr. Raven the Science Maven, is an award-winning science communicator.
This fall, she begins her new role at UC Irvine, where she’ll create and develop programs that help build a better community for faculty, staff, and students. “I’ll be focusing on diversity the same way I have been—for me, it’s not just diversity in terms of race but also allowing people to be individuals and feel like they belong.” She’ll also mentor faculty to make sure they’re up to date with best practices and create events and opportunities for students to foster a sense of community. “Although I did experience a lot of negative things in the past, I feel really great about my experience as a scientist overall. But there’s still work to do.”
Bounds’ chapter, “Building Health Equity among Black Young People With Lived Experience of Homelessness,” is co-authored with Norweeta Wilburn, PhD, co-director of the UCLA HIV/AIDS, Substance Abuse, Trauma Training Program (HA-STTP) in the Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Science.
The book focuses on the ways anti-Black racism manifests and how it has been confronted across various domains of Black life.
ER doctor Omar Amr recalls battling racism that included physical and mental aggression to achieve his Olympic dream of competing in water polo. He became one of the first African Americans to represent the U.S. when he played in Greece. Dana Jacobson has the details.
L to R: Adriana Villavicencio, Adeyemi Adeleye, Vibhuti Ramachandran, Celia Symons, Judit Romhanyi, Swethaa S. Ballakrishnen, Christopher Seeds
Seven assistant professors at UCI will receive $50,000 Hellman Fellowships, which are bestowed annually to support research by junior faculty. They join an elite group of 63 UCI Hellman Fellows since 2013, when the Hellman Fellows Fund established the program here. The program began in 1995 at UC Berkeley and UC San Diego and has since expanded organically to all UC institutions. In 2020, after 25 years of funding the Program, the Hellman family generously established an endowment to allow the program to continue in perpetuity across UC’s 10 campuses.
The purpose of the Inclusive Excellence Term Chair program is to leverage the research and creative capacity of the campus to deepen understanding about and responses to designated national imperatives. Aligning with the ambitious UCI Black Thriving Initiative (BTI), the theme for the inaugural cohort (2021-2022 through 2023-2024) is Black Thriving. A review committee evaluated nominations from across the campus, identifying outstanding candidates based on their distinguished research, teaching and service contributions in advancing the Black Thriving theme.
Brandy Gatlin-Nash. Photo courtesy of School of Education
The Spencer Foundation awarded a team of UCI School of Education researchers a Racial Equity Special Research Grant to identify existing teacher recruitment practices of two university-based teacher preparation programs in Southern California and recommend promising practices for improving the recruitment of Black candidates.
Scholars have debated the intentions behind the 13th Amendment’s allowance of forced servitude for people convicted of crimes. But Michele Goodwin, a University of California at Irvine [Chancellor’s] law professor …. said the issue has gained traction in recent years. Colorado was the first state to repeal its constitution’s exception in 2018. “I think that we’re still at the point where we still have to really explain it,” the law professor said Saturday. But she sees momentum. “I think it’s prime time,” she said. [Subscription required, campus-wide access provided by UCI Libraries. Sign-up here: https://guides.lib.uci.edu/news/post]
Dr. Tonya Williams Bradford and Dr. Kevin Bradford, professors at University of California Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business, saw that there was a financial burden that comes with pursuing college education. So the husband and wife duo decided to take real action to help lighten the load for students.
The Black Management Association (BMA) at the UCI Paul Merage School of Business held their first annual conference on May 1, where they announced the Bradford Fellows Fund, a scholarship for students active in the BMA or UCI’s Black Thriving Initiative. The first Bradford Fellows Scholarship will be awarded in the 2021-2022 school year to a Merage School undergraduate or graduate student.
The University of California, Irvine School of Law (UCI Law) is delighted to announce that Desirae Hutchison, UCI Law ‘14 and UCI, B.A. Criminology and Political Science ’10, was appointed by the State of California to serve as Judge for the Workers Compensation Appeals Board, Los Angeles District Office. She is the first UCI Law alum to become a judge.
The University of California, Irvine School of Law (UCI Law) Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy, Michele Goodwin, is the new Chair-elect of The Hastings Center Fellow’s Council. She will be serving for the next two years as an ex officio member of the Board of Trustees.
William Bowman, Samueli School assistant professor of materials science and engineering, has won a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation’s Division Of Materials Research.
[Augusta] Savage did not accept the rejection quietly. “She used the Black press to make the limits that she was facing known to the larger national and international public,” Bridget R. Cooks, an associate professor [of art history and African American studies] at University of California, Irvine, said, “She had a real determination and sense of her own talent and a refusal to be denied.” [Subscription required, campus-wide access provided by UCI Libraries. Sign-up here: https://guides.lib.uci.edu/nytimes]
Episode Seven: Dean Barker speaks with the Department of Music Chair Stephen Tucker regarding his experience growing up in Jamaica, training as a conductor, Outreach work with Santa Ana High School, and the dynamic landscape of the Music department.
Tayloria N.G. Adams, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and a Henry Samueli Career Development Chair, has earned a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award.
#BlackInNeuro founder Angeline Dukes in Irvine, Calif.
Angeline Dukes, who’s currently a student in the department of neurobiology and behavior at the University of California, Irvine, said it was “wonderful” to find a community of people who had not only succeeded, but overcome the same struggles she’d experienced. She wanted to found the movement in part because of her own struggles as a Black scientist — especially as she felt the mental health impact of the killings of unarmed Black people like Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd earlier this year.
“There are many curators of American art that don’t know anything about African American artists,” Bridget Cooks, a professor of African American studies at UC Irvine, said. … Some say in order for the nation’s celebrated artwork to better reflect our diversity, more outreach is needed. “Inviting people to museums, having open conversations with them about the current conditions, the past, and a sincere desire to do more,” Cooks said.
Bocar A. Ba, UCI assistant professor of economics and others write, “Relative to white officers, Black and Hispanic officers make far fewer stops and arrests, and they use force less often, especially against Black civilians. These effects are largest in majority-Black areas of Chicago and stem from reduced focus on enforcing low-level offenses, with greatest impact on Black civilians. Female officers also use less force than males, a result that holds within all racial groups. These results suggest that diversity reforms can improve police treatment of minority communities.”
I’m pleased to announce that the UCI School of Humanities has earned a Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District VII gold award in the Communications Pivot category for “The Welcome Table with Sydney and Tatum.” The category recognizes initiatives that responded effectively and creatively to the events of 2020—in the case of “The Welcome Table,” the deep relation between our COVID-19 situation and issues of inequality and racial justice. Led by student storytellers and literary journalism majors Sydney Charles and Tatum Larsen, the video interview series highlights Black scholars, staff and alumni in the school.
From the judges: “UC Irvine provides a platform for two talented student storytellers to engage on timely topics of great interest to the community, and with broad reach. A deeply thoughtful and compelling project that other colleges and universities can look to in order to amplify the voices of underrepresented students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Inspiring!”
You can watch all 14 episodes below.
Please join me in congratulating Sydney and Tatum!
“Social determinants of health compound the negative effects of pharmacy shortage,” said Cheryl Wisseh, a UCI health sciences assistant clinical professor of clinical pharmacy practice, speaking about her study to identify and characterize pharmacy deserts in LA county. Courtesy of Cheryl Wisse
New study in pharmacy deserts finds vulnerability in Black and Latino communities. Researchers like Cheryl Wisseh aim to reduce health disparities.
The University of California, Irvine School of Law (UCI Law) is delighted to announce that Chancellor’s Professor of Law Michele Goodwin is the recipient of a UCI 2020-21 Academic Senate Distinguished Faculty Award. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the Academic Senate – it is given to a Senate member who has achieved excellence through their activities in research, mentorship, teaching, and service.