ESPM’s Damian Elias receives UC Berkeley’s top Equity award

April 15, 2024
Headshot of Professor Damian Elias

Congratulations to Damian Elias, a renowned behavioral ecologist and professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (ESPM), on being named one of three faculty recipients of the Chancellor's Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence and Equity (CAAIEE). 

Established in 2007, the award recognizes UC Berkeley faculty members who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and dedication to advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and justice (DEIBJ) through their research, teaching, and public or university service. 

Elias is recognized for his multifaceted commitments to DEIBJ that have helped transform ESPM, the Berkeley campus, the national landscape for graduate education, and his own scientific field. He has provided innovative leadership on holistic, equity-centered graduate admissions and graduate education within the department and worked to advance anti-racism learning and teaching efforts. Undergraduate and graduate students, including many who are first-generation or from underrepresented backgrounds, describe Elias as a beloved teacher and mentor.

Across campus, Elias has partnered with the Graduate Division to develop and roll out the UC Berkeley Graduate Admissions Institute and Graduate Diversity Leadership Academy. More than 200 faculty and staff have participated in the Academy’s training and workshops on inclusive graduate admissions, campus climate, mentorship, wellbeing, and using data for equity. 

Outside the campus community, Elias represents UC Berkeley on the California Consortium of Inclusive Doctoral Education and the nationwide Equity in Graduate Education Consortium, where he is a highly regarded thought leader on graduate diversity, holistic admissions, and mentoring. Since 2015 he has served on or chaired the Diversity Committee for the Animal Behavior Society, where he has helped develop support programs for underrepresented students, inclusive mentoring and teaching workshops, and accessible meeting practices for disabled scholars. In recognition of his service, Elias was awarded the Animal Behavior Society’s Exceptional Service Award in 2023.

Each recipient of the CAAIEE receives a financial award to be used at their discretion. Elias said he plans to use the grant to increase the recruitment of graduate students from underserved communities by creating online resources to help demystify applying for graduate school. Part of the grant will also be used to expand and share ESPM’s anti-racism curriculum and training with other campus departments.

Learn more about the award and the other recipients at the Equity and Inclusion website.