April 13, 2021

Dear Members of Our Campus Community,

As our country waits for the verdict in the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd, and people across the country and on our campus raise their voices to demand justice and action, I wanted to share some of the steps that our campus is undertaking to make sure that anti-Blackness, which is at the core of all such tragedies as George Floyd's death, does not have a place on our campus and in our community. At the same time, tragically, we have witnessed an increase in anti-Asian racism and violence in our nation. Clearly, it is time for a concerted effort among all of us to step forward and turn the tide against attacks, whether physical or verbal, against people of color in our nation.

Based on many active collaborations, and in response to letters from concerned faculty, staff, and students, including the anti-racism letter of August 3, 2020, from our faculty, we share with you the launch of our coordinated campus-wide initiative called Thriving Through Reform, Together – a multi-pronged effort under the leadership of Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Belinda Robnett, along with our administrative and Academic Senate colleagues, and the commitment of our campus community, to root out bias, prejudice, and harmful treatment.

Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Vice Chancellor Robnett, who was newly hired at the end of last year, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in institutionalizing diversity-enhancing best practices through programmatic development. In addition to developing our campus-wide initiative Thriving Through Reform, Together, our Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has developed a speaker series, training sessions, and workshops to provide our campus with additional diversity educational resources. The DEI educational workshops, led by the training team of Ben and Rebecca Refuerzo, cover topics like Racial and Microaggressions and Power and White Privilege. The 2020-21 speaker series is entitled Addressing Slavery and Difficult Dialogues: Anti-Blackness.

Another of VC Robnett’s important new initiatives is the development of a Diversity Education Certificate Program for faculty, staff, and students. Beginning this spring, our DEI Office will add a bystander intervention workshop, as well as best practices training for faculty search and graduate admissions committees to increase awareness of biases that influence our decision-making processes. Our Campus Climate Survey Committee has also been revised, and we plan to administer regular campus climate surveys starting this academic year. Administered every two years, the results will provide the basis for the campus-wide strategic action plan that will be released in Fall 2021, to provide a data-driven mechanism for goal setting and accountability.

Our campus hosted a State Violence, Anti-Blackness, and the Black Experience town hall last June, under the leadership of Professors Sharon Tettegah, Jeffrey Stewart, and Victor Rios, and our students, where we heard from our community members and discussed our ongoing efforts to support our Black students, staff, and faculty. It was painful to hear how some Black undergraduates and graduate students on campus have had experiences of being marginalized in classroom and research activities on campus. We are committed to changing the climate of education on campus so that no student experiences alienation and marginalization in the pursuit of a degree at our university.

In response, at the start of the upcoming academic year, our DEI Office will launch the Thriving in the Academy Faculty Program and the Thriving in the Academy Graduate Student Program in collaboration with our Graduate Division. Both programs are designed to address the needs of racial-ethnic underrepresented junior faculty and graduate students. Similar programs for staff and undergraduate students will be forthcoming. The Mentoring Across Difference Certificate Program will support the Thriving in the Academy Programs. Our current Graduate Student Diversity Officers, now housed in the DEI Office, are an expansion of this tier of leadership, which includes Faculty Diversity Officers, Undergraduate Student Diversity Officers, and Staff Diversity Officers, who will work to create a sense of belonging for all members of our UC Santa Barbara campus community.

Faculty Recruitment Initiative
Advancing faculty diversity is a priority for our campus, even as we may face a period of fiscal constraint. The use of a required statement about contributions to diversity and inclusion in applications for faculty positions, along with guidance from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and the Associate Deans/Faculty Equity Advisors, will support this priority. In addition, many of our faculty colleagues have emphasized the urgency of aligning faculty recruitment strategies with comprehensive campus efforts to combat structural racism, with a special focus on anti-Black racism. Our Department Chairs, Deans, and Executive Vice Chancellor, in consultation with the Academic Senate’s Council on Planning and Budget (CPB), are committed to making it a priority to support new faculty recruitments that will advance the goals of promoting racial justice through research, teaching, mentoring, service, and outreach. Our Deans have been working hard with departments to develop plans and strategies to support anti-racism and advance social justice.

Building on recruitments already underway for 2020-21, as well as recent appointments, we anticipate both a cluster hire approach and individual departmental appointments. The next Mellichamp Academic Initiative Faculty Cluster is scheduled to begin in 2023. This group of four coordinated endowed chairs is designed to advance a major academic priority, support or develop centers of excellence, and leverage campus strengths. Following campus consultation, in the context of national and local discussions about racial injustice, the structural inequities stemming from systemic racism, and the problem of anti-Black racism, a consensus emerged to invite proposals from the campus for endowed chairs to advance racial justice in support of underrepresented groups in our campus community. A call for proposals has been announced. Faculty and departments have been encouraged to align a potential Mellichamp cluster with multi-year recruitment plans and strategies as the campus pursues a broadly-construed, inclusive, and coordinated initiative that will interrogate and respond to structural racism.

As the academic year began, in our review of FTE plans formulated by faculty, departments, and Deans, and in consultation with CPB, we anticipated authorizing 10-15 recruitments to advance diversity over the next five years. This inclusive, coordinated initiative will interrogate and respond to structural anti-Black and other forms of racism. Our campus continues to make strategic use of the Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program and the President’s Postdoctoral Fellow Faculty Recruitment Program, as well as related special opportunities. This year alone, through regularly scheduled recruitments and Search Waivers, there are 10 appointments in progress that would advance faculty diversity on campus.

Updates to Our Research Commitments
Our Office of Research views anti-racism and social justice efforts as integral to the promotion of an inclusive and dynamic research environment, and has provided significant new investments and support to several campus efforts. These investments include the Center for Black Studies Research (CBSR) and Chicano Studies Institute, providing staffing and financial resources for the work of the research centers. The Director of CBSR Professor Sharon Tettegah was selected as a fellow in the NSF-funded Aspire Alliance’s Institutional Change Network (IChange) IAspire Leadership Academy. Our Office of Research is also providing support to intramural COVID-19 research grants focused on social justice aspects of the pandemic’s impact, public lectures that raise awareness of the dangers of algorithmic inequality, and supplementing extramurally funded projects and outreach programs that encourage participation of research trainees from underrepresented groups. Additionally, the Office of Research is in the early stages of preparing a new call for proposals for research grants for social justice and anti-racism initiatives.

Race to Justice
In the fall, we launched a yearlong virtual “Race to Justice” series, bringing together a rich and diverse slate of thinkers, doers, creators, and performers to address issues of systemic racism. This series – the result of collaborations across our entire campus between Arts & Lectures and the Dean and Division of Social Sciences, the Department of Black Studies, and many other campus partners – has been a valuable and inspiring opportunity for us to listen, learn, and take action together. We sincerely thank our advisory committee members, organizers, sponsors, speakers, and participants in this important series of events. We appreciate the dedication of our faculty, staff, and students to advancing inclusive dialogue on our campus. Information about upcoming events is available at https://artsandlectures.ucsb.edu/RaceToJustice.aspx.

Investing in Students
One of our most impactful student programs, our Promise Scholars Program, continues to thrive as it assists high-achieving, first-generation students, guaranteeing them predictable financial resources and high levels of academic support to ensure student success. Our campus has mounted an aggressive fundraising program to support our Promise Scholars, and we are grateful to our Foundation Trustees and others for their commitment to this program. Our ONDAS (Opening New Doors to Accelerating Success) Student Center and our Transfer Student Center, supported by a Department of Education Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) grant, continue to support the success and retention of our first-generation students, providing mentoring and helping students connect with academic support.

The Department of Education awarded a new $3-million HSI grant to support a collaboration between our Division of Social Sciences and our Gevirtz Graduate School of Education (GGSE) to develop a “4+1” program in which students graduate with a bachelor’s degree in an ethnic studies or feminist studies major, and then earn a master’s and a teaching credential at GGSE. Faculty in our English Department recently received two grants from the UC-HBCU Initiative for collaborations between the University of California and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. There have been 12 UC-HBCU grants awarded to UC faculty since the program began. Our enhanced recruitment and outreach efforts through our Admissions Office have increased opportunities for students and families from underrepresented communities to have personal interactions with our campus through our Social Justice Faculty Lecture Series, targeted videos, and discussion groups with our diversity interns and professional staff.

While we are proud of these programs and associated recognitions of our collaborative efforts, we recognize that they will require sustained, long-term support to maximize their effectiveness.

Our Office of Black Student Development was created in 2019 following a series of meetings and discussions among our students, faculty, staff, and administrators, and in fulfillment of the Black Student Union’s calls to provide increased support for our Black students. We welcomed the opportunity to initiate this effort through the Chancellor’s Office, and to work in partnership with our students who brought their strong vision to the creation of this office. Its mission, in response to a strong culture of Black student activism, is to advance the experiences of all Black students, advocate for their needs, and foster their personal and academic achievement through graduation and beyond.

In February, we held a welcoming event for Elroy Pinks, our new Director of our Office of Black Student Development. Mr. Pinks is a UC Santa Barbara alumnus with degrees in Biology and Black Studies, and with more than 20 years of experience in higher education both on our campus as well as at UCLA and UC Davis.

Campus Safety and Policing Reforms
We are grateful to our students, faculty, and staff who have volunteered their service to our Police Advisory Board. Under the leadership of Professors Sharon Tettegah and Geoffrey Raymond, and with the participation of our new Chief of Police Alex Yao, our Board will work to identify needed changes in police practices and training, and provide an important forum to bring stakeholders together.

The Board is an important step in ensuring that our police department meets the highest standards as we work to implement reforms related to community engagement, training, protocols, and policies regarding use of force, the citizen complaint process, and transparency. A central focus of the Board will be to consider how the department can join campus-wide efforts to act against repressive histories of structural racism. It will work to ensure a greater sense of community belonging, and of physical and psychological safety among students of color, as well as underrepresented, non-traditional, and marginalized communities on campus.

The Police Advisory Board (PAB) hosted its first Public Safety Town Hall meeting with UCPD Chief Alex Yao and Vice Chancellor Garry Mac Pherson. This meeting marked the beginning of a long-term, ongoing effort initiated by campus leadership, the Police Advisory Board, and Chief Yao focused on developing a new relationship between campus safety agencies and the campus communities they serve. In the meeting, stakeholders expressed concerns about police agencies’ treatment of people of color, particularly Black and Latinx students, staff, and faculty. They also conveyed strong support for more transparency in handling complaints about misconduct, and for developing a better understanding of and multifaceted support for individuals experiencing mental health crises. In his responses, Chief Yao committed to working with the PAB to develop a new, more transparent set of procedures for responding to complaints and ensuring public accountability, and to working with our Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) in responding to mental health crises. He also detailed plans for continuing and enhancing UC’s implicit bias training for officers, and his personal commitment to addressing past and current harms experienced by students of color.

The PAB is also committed to working with concerned community members, Chief Yao, and campus leadership in responding to the issues raised in the meeting. Many of these issues have a long history, with roots and experiences that may extend beyond the bounds of our campus community. Addressing these matters will take a sustained effort by all stakeholders, campus leaders, and the UCPD. To facilitate this effort, PAB and stakeholder communities will organize an ongoing series of events and venues for feedback regarding past and current harms experienced by students of color, underrepresented, non-traditional, and marginalized communities, including Black, Latinx, LGBTQIA+, undocumented students, and students with disabilities, among others. The PAB is committed to hearing, understanding, and registering the impact of these experiences as a crucial first step in working with campus leadership to develop a campus-wide response aimed at promoting reconciliation, and establishing a greater sense of physical and psychological safety and community belonging among campus stakeholders.

The University of California’s Office of the President hosted the first UC Campus Safety Symposium on February 2, 2021, to engage with the University community on the critical issue of policing on all of our campuses. The symposium brought together campus representatives, Regents, and the UC Office of the President, as well as national experts, to discuss policing best practices that foster trust between campus communities and their police departments. The second part of the symposium, on March 24, 2021, focused on campus reporting and developing systemwide guidelines.

Campus-wide Initiatives
Diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are a centerpiece of the work within our Administrative Services and Student Affairs divisions. Led by our Housing, Dining and Auxiliary Enterprises, our Division of Administrative Services recently hosted its annual weeklong Deepening Understanding conference, which included seminars entitled “Anti-Black Racism and Creating Change” and “Internalized Oppression in the Latino Community.” Staff Engagement Specialist and Work Life Resource Coordinator positions have been established in our Human Resources offices to support DEI integration. Our Academic Staff Assistance Program (ASAP) sponsors DEI workshops and support groups.

Our Division of Student Affairs continues to lead the Campus Community Council, consisting of Student Affairs staff, campus administrators, and faculty, which works to promote an inclusive and respectful campus community through education, dialogue, and responsive action to climate or bias-related incidents. Recent initiatives include the UCSB Grow website, a mandatory educational module for incoming students on diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as a new bias-reporting form. The Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity (RCSGD) is curating a Black Programming Calendar in conjunction with on-campus departments and community organizations to highlight programming and advocacy to improve the quality of campus life and services provided to our Black students. The Spring 2021 calendar is available here.

Our Commitment
Despite these important initiatives and programs, much work remains to be done. It will take a comprehensive and sustained effort across our campus to fight the devastating effects of racism and discrimination, combat racism, and promote social justice. Through our Thriving Through Reform, Together initiative and many related efforts, we commit ourselves to improving our campus climate, and to supporting a diverse learning, living, and working community for all. These efforts need to be woven into all of our campus activities. We look forward to working with our students, faculty, and staff to rebuild and strengthen our community.


Henry T. Yang

Belinda Robnett  
Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Susannah Scott
Chair, Academic Senate

David Marshall
Executive Vice Chancellor

Joe Incandela
Vice Chancellor for Research

Margaret Klawunn
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

Garry Mac Pherson
Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services