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Search committee for EDI vice chancellor seeks student input in hiring process

The search committee for the vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion held a forum Wednesday for students to voice their questions and concerns about the search process. (Daanish Bhatti/Daily Bruin)

By Bernard Mendez

Jan. 16, 2020 1:17 a.m.

Students at a community town hall Wednesday raised concerns about support for underrepresented minorities to a search committee for the next vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion.

The committee is looking to replace current EDI Vice Chancellor Jerry Kang, who plans to step down in June and return to his position as a professor of law and Asian American studies at UCLA.

Kang, who took the position in 2015, oversaw the Discrimination Prevention Office and the Title IX Office, and was responsible for investigating cases of discrimination against faculty members.

Kang also established BruinX, a campus think tank that uses data analytics to help improve fairness and diversity while hiring UCLA faculty.

The next EDI vice chancellor will be responsible for supervising the Title IX, Discrimination Prevention and BruinX offices, ensuring fair faculty hiring practices and developing new programs promoting undergraduate and graduate diversity.

Devon Carbado, a law professor and chair of the search committee, said the committee is looking to gather suggestions from the public and hopes to pick a candidate by the end of May.

“This is a hard job; this is a really important job, but it has enormous opportunities and it has enormous benefits,” Carbado said. “It’s a job for which it’s hard to imagine this person gets a gold standard from everyone.”

Students, including representatives from the Afrikan Student Union, Transgender UCLA Pride and the UCLA Committee on Disability, said they want the next vice chancellor to continue to support black and LGBTQ+ students, as well as students with disabilities.

A student representative from the UCLA Committee on Disability said the next vice chancellor should look to fund accessibility projects, especially because UCLA will be the Olympic Village for the 2028 Summer Paralympics.

Alec Norkey, a graduate ethnomusicology student who attended the forum, said he hopes the next EDI vice chancellor pays attention to the economic well-being of students, which he said has a greater effect on underrepresented minorities.

Norkey added he liked that the committee involved students by holding an open forum, but said it wasn’t clear how student input would be utilized.

Maryann Arceo, a first-year biology student who also attended the meeting, said she would like the new EDI vice chancellor to be receptive to ideas from students.

Arceo, a first-generation student, said she hopes the next EDI vice chancellor will continue to promote programs for first-generation students, such as the Freshman Summer Program.

The committee consists of faculty from departments across campus and graduate and undergraduate student representatives, Carbado said. The committee is partnering with the executive search firm Korn Ferry, he added.

He said the committee previously held an open forum with faculty and staff and plans to hold another public forum with the finalists for the position once they are decided.

Kang helped make UCLA a more diverse and inclusive campus, said Chancellor Gene Block in a September statement released after Kang announced his plans to step down.

Carbado said the committee hopes to find a candidate that can handle the issues the EDI vice chancellor faces.

“It’s not as though the (EDI vice chancellor) often opens his email and sees something like, ‘It’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood,’” Carbado said. “They get emails about problems.”

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Bernard Mendez | News editor
Mendez is the 2020-2021 News editor. He was previously a staff news reporter for the Science & Health beat and a developer for The Stack. He is also a third-year math student at UCLA.
Mendez is the 2020-2021 News editor. He was previously a staff news reporter for the Science & Health beat and a developer for The Stack. He is also a third-year math student at UCLA.
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