March 19, 2014

Dear Campus Community,

Today the Office of the President has released the findings from the system-wide Campus Climate Survey that was conducted in 2013. While the Berkeley-specific survey data indicate that we have ample reason to take pride in the progress we have made, they also make clear that there is much more work to be done.

For example, the survey found that 1 in 4 of people on campus reported some form of exclusion, intimidation, bullying or isolation. It also found that underrepresented minorities feel less comfortable at Berkeley than members of other ethnic groups. (To access a complete copy of the Berkeley survey, go to: http://diversity.berkeley.edu/campus-climate) These, and other findings, are a clear, compelling signal that we must use the survey data to support and refine, new and existing initiatives designed to foster and sustain the values, ideals and commitments that are the core of who we are as an institution.

Today I am announcing a series of initial steps and decisions in support of our goals and aspiration:

Beginning with new student orientations in the summer of 2014, we will initiate an effort to provide all faculty, staff and students with workshops, training sessions and educational material in support of a fully inclusive campus climate. I am authorizing the funding necessary to staff this effort, and to adapt existing curricula developed by our Multicultural Education Program for use across the campus.

I will be providing the funding necessary to turn the well-received staff career development “NOW Conference” into a regular, annual event. In addition, I have asked our Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion (VCEI) to institute a “professionals of color” leadership development program.

Based on a recommendation from the 2013 Chancellor’s Multicultural Student Development Taskforce, I have authorized the immediate formation of a new Chancellor’s advisory board to help address challenges faced by students of color on this campus. I want to especially thank a broad-based planning committee for its work on developing the charge and membership structure for this new working group that will include undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and staff from a range of campus constituencies and organizations.

I have agreed to fund a program inspired by the “Innovation Grants” run by the VCEI that has an established record of success in generating new ways and ideas to engage with and improve climate and inclusiveness across the campus. Past grants include programs that have broadened access to recreational sports for our disabled students, and a student-led project brought together people from opposite sides of long-standing political divides. To make good on these commitments and intentions, we know that we must engage and involve the entire campus community in order to further develop the understandings, actions and initiatives that will be required to successfully address the climate issues uncovered in the survey findings. Beginning in April, our campus climate team, led by the VCEI, Gibor Basri, will be holding a series of meetings with existing, representative groups of faculty, students, and staff. The purpose will be to share detailed findings from the survey, solicit feedback on the initial steps I have described and generate new ideas for long-term efforts.

I am personally committed to what must, by its very nature, be an unending campaign to ensure that every member of our campus community feels respected and valued. I am convinced that no matter how far we have come, or how much we achieve in the future, there will always be room to improve. Now, as we stand on the threshold of a new fundraising campaign I will insist that it incorporates as key priorities, new financial support for our efforts to increase the number and success of students from under-represented minorities that we admit; expand opportunities and fellowships for graduate students of color; diversify our staff leadership; and improve our recruitment and retention of under-represented faculty members.

As a public university, among our most fundamental purposes are the contributions we make to our collective intellectual and moral well-being, and the extent to which we prepare our students to fully engage in a world defined by differences and diversity. We will do what is necessary to create on this campus an environment that can serve as a model for the sort of society we are striving to build.

Sincerely,

Nicholas B. Dirks
Chancellor