UC Berkeley Creates Multidisciplinary Chair For Equity and Inclusion

The University of California, Berkeley has created a new $5 million faculty chair to further extend the university’s campus-wide initiative for equity and inclusion.

In addition to research and teaching, the new chair will help generate specific policy recommendations for business, government and communities that will draw on the strengths of diverse demographics and reduce ethnic and racial disparities in areas that include education, the workplace and health care.

The Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion is being established to honor Robert Haas, a UC Berkeley alumnus who recently stepped down as chief executive officer and chairman of San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co.

Dr. Robert J. Birgeneau, chancellor of the university, says, “This chair will bring to the campus a world-class scholar who can work in partnership with Gibor Basri, the vice chancellor of equity and inclusion, to ensure that [racial and ethnic diversity] are defining and enduring elements of UC Berkeley’s institutional fabric.”


UC Berkeley is currently the least ethnically and racially diverse campus in the University of California system. Since the demise of affirmative action in 1996, nearly every university in the UC System has experienced steep declines in the admission rates of African-Americans students, particularly UC Berkeley — one of the most selective schools in the system.

In 2006, African-Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians combined made up only 14 percent of the entire undergraduate population.

“This new chair will be vital to helping the Berkley campus act effectively in its mission as a resource for all people of California and our increasingly diverse nation,” Basri said.

The new chair is the first in a select group of multidisciplinary chairs to be established at UC Berkeley by the chancellor, and the first to be officially named a chancellor’s chair, which is bestowed upon tenured faculty who have made extraordinary contributions in their fields.

The Levi Strauss foundation and the Will and Flora Hewlett Foundation will be donating $3.5 and $1.5 million, respectively, to establish the chair.

–Michelle J. Nealy

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