Dean Ackerly on equity, inclusion, and diversity in CNR

November 13, 2018

Dean David Ackerly sent this message today to the campus community:

To the CNR community,

I am writing to follow up on my message sent in late August regarding equity, inclusion, and diversity in CNR. Faculty, students, and staff in CNR represent diverse backgrounds and identities, spanning race, ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, immigration status, national origin, religion, and more. While each of us is unique as an individual, our experiences are shaped by our identities as members of various social groups and the opportunities and obstacles that these groups have faced in the past and encounter today.

As members of the Berkeley community, we strive for ‘Access and Excellence’. Achieving these goals requires commitments to enhancing the diversity of our faculty, post-docs, staff, and student body and to ensuring that all individuals thrive and succeed in their pursuits. We also know that these goals are intertwined, as diversity is itself a path to excellence, enhancing our ability to frame the problems we encounter as a society and to devise better solutions. Working towards an equitable, inclusive, and diverse community is a shared responsibility of all of us, not only those who may have encountered and overcome obstacles in the past or continue to face challenges here on campus or in other walks of life. 

As I wrote to you in August, I am committed to advancing awareness and action on inclusion and diversity within CNR, including issues of sexual violence and sexual harassment. In this academic year, we will pursue three complementary paths of action.

  1. Life Sciences Hiring Initiative and faculty hiring: Three of CNR’s departments (PMB, NST, and ESPM) are participating in the Life Sciences Diversity Initiative, a broad search spanning the Colleges of Chemistry, Letters and Sciences Biological Sciences Division, and CNR, with a focus on candidates with a proven commitment to advancing inclusion and diversity. ESPM is also conducting its own department-wide search with a focus on contributions to diversity. All of our departments will continue to enhance and implement best practices in faculty search procedures in this and future hiring cycles. The Dean’s Office is fully committed to supporting these search efforts and enhancing the diversity of the faculty across the college.
  2. Coordinating and Advancing Departmental Initiatives: In the past several years, all of our departments have engaged in thoughtful discussions on inclusion and diversity and developed proposals addressing faculty and graduate student diversity, departmental climate, and related concerns. I will be assembling faculty equity advisors and graduate student leaders from the departments to i) compare and contrast departmental plans, sharing best practices and progress on implementation, and ii) identify specific actions that can be more effectively implemented at the College level (e.g., implicit bias training, inclusive mentoring workshops). I am committed to identifying or seeking resources to implement priority actions in the coming year.
  3. Undergraduate experience: CNR is known across campus for our high-quality advising and strong undergraduate community – the ‘small college in a big university’. Building on our current strength, I have asked our newly appointed Assistant Dean Marques Redd and the Office of Instruction and Student Affairs (OISA) to assemble a college-wide committee to assess opportunities and concerns related to equity, inclusion, and diversity in CNR’s undergraduate programs. The committee will examine all aspects, including outreach and admissions policies, classroom pedagogy, research mentoring, discovery experiences, financial support, and career preparation. While many of these issues are overseen by other parts of campus (e.g., financial aid), it is important that we see CNR from the students’ perspectives, including the broader campus context. I will ask the committee for specific recommendations for actions we can take internally and where we can collaborate and contribute to broader campus initiatives. The charge letter to the committee can be viewed here.

Over the course of the year, you will all be hearing more about these initiatives, and you may receive surveys, invitations to meetings, or requests for assistance. I want to express my appreciation for the time and effort to respond and participate in these activities. I look forward to receiving the committee’s reports in May 2019 and having the opportunity to act on their recommendations. Collectively, we have the opportunity to embrace and enhance the diversity of our community and ensure that all individuals, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic background, immigration status, national origin, or religion, have the opportunity to thrive personally, academically, and professionally in the pursuit of their education, research, and career goals.

Thank you,
David Ackerly