December 27, 2021

Dear Members of Our Campus Community,

In my campus memo of October 29, I shared with you the news that our Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Belinda Robnett decided to retire on December 17, 2021.

Following broad consultation with our Faculty Equity Advisors and Associate Deans, Academic Deans, Academic Senate Chair, Vice Chancellors, Executive Vice Chancellor, and faculty and administrative colleagues, I am pleased to announce that Professor Jeffrey Stewart has graciously agreed to serve as Interim Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, effective January 3, 2022, pending UC Presidential and Regental approval.

Distinguished Professor and MacArthur Foundation Chair Jeffrey Stewart is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Professor of Black Studies, and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Chair. His most recent book, The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, won the 2018 National Book Award for Nonfiction as well as the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Biography. It also won additional prizes, including the 2019 Mark Lynton History Prize of the J. Lukas Prize Project Awards, 2019 James A. Rawley Prize of the Organization of American Historians, 2018 Black Caucus of the American Library Association Award for Nonfiction, 2018 PROSE Award for Best Biography/Autobiography Association of American Publishers, and the 2019 American Book Award of the Before Columbus Foundation.

His MacArthur Foundation Chair project, A New Eden in Southern California: Promoting Black and Brown Futures in Resilient Communities, includes scholarly research, artistic projects and performances, and inclusive off-campus programming. The project is aimed to create interdisciplinary dialogues about racial and social justice, as well as public policy issues such as policing and criminal justice, that develop new models of community engagement and social sustainability for Black and Brown urban youth.

Professor Stewart joined UC Santa Barbara in 2007, and served as Chair of our Department of Black Studies from 2007 until 2016. During his tenure as Chair, he advanced a number of campus projects, including the North Hall 1968 Takeover Display and Jeffrey’s Jazz Coffeehouse, an immersive pop-up jazz experience in Isla Vista to accompany his History of Jazz course. He is also a curator, producing two major exhibitions with accompanying scholarly catalogues - To Color America: Portraits by Winold Reiss at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, and Paul Robeson: Artist and Citizen that originated at the Zimmerli Museum of Art at Rutgers University and toured nationally. He is the author of numerous articles, essays, edited volumes, and a popular African American history, 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About African American History (1996).

Professor Stewart holds a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University. He has held numerous fellowships, visiting professorships, and lectureships at Harvard University, Yale University, UCLA, Tufts University, Howard University, George Mason University, the University of Rome, and the Terra Foundation in Giverny, France.

We are grateful for Professor Stewart’s willingness to serve our campus in this important leadership position. I will consult and form a search advisory committee for our next Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Please join us in extending our sincere thanks and best wishes to Vice Chancellor Robnett in her retirement, and in welcoming Professor Stewart as Interim Vice Chancellor.


Henry T. Yang