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.
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.
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 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 and micro- and maco-aggressions
Recognize uncredited labor that Black people expend to manage the effects of unconscious and conscious acts of bias, prejudice and bigorty
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.
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 – Black Thriving Culture: Allyship
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.
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.
African American Studies Panel
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.
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)