UC Santa Cruz embarked on a journey to find a Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (VCDEI) this year, the second-to-last university within the UC system to do so.
The VCDEI is a new administrative role at UCSC that will create and facilitate programs and resources that support and improve the experiences of underserved campus communities. They will also work with administration and student organizers to act on reports of discrimination and educate on the harms of prejudice. The new vice chancellor will lead the Department for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion , and act as a line of communication between the chancellor, faculty, and student body.
“We want to give the person who takes this position more of the authority to start programs and initiatives, do outreach, and act on suggestions and requests from students, staff, and faculty,” said Lauren Morgan, Senior Leader Human Resources Manager.
The search for the VCDEI was announced on Feb. 15 with a timeline of the recruitment process. Throughout March 2022, a search advisory committee consisting of one undergraduate student, one graduate student, and 10 faculty members met and discussed their goals, using the search firm WittKieffer to source potential candidates.
Final applications were received by the committee on April 30, kicking off the recruitment process. Meanwhile, the search advisory committee, headed by Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Herbie Lee, will meet with eight to 10 candidates to conduct the first confidential screening interviews.
The end of the process will create space for the wider UCSC community to make their voices heard. Finalists chosen by the committee will conduct campus visits in which students, staff, and faculty can engage and offer feedback. While the feedback will provide insight to Chancellor Cynthia Larive as she makes her final decision, she isn’t required to adhere to any advice from the interactive portio.
Andrew Ruiz, a second-year computer science major, shared hopes that the VC DEI will be a support to students who feel unheard.
Stakeholder Meetings: February 2022
Kickoff Search Advisory Committee Meeting: Beginning of March 2022
Initial Application Review Date: April 30, 2022
First Interviews: May 2022
Final Interviews: End of May, beginning of June 2022
“I can see this position helping students be more aware of diversity issues along with being a voice for students who may feel they aren’t represented on campus,” he said.
As a student who works closely with other student leaders to hold administration accountable, SUA Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion María Dolores Castillo has certain expectations for a new chancellor.
She urges the search advisory committee to take into consideration the need for representation of Queer and Trans Black and Indigenous people of color (BIPOC) at UCSC. This comes at a time when student organizations such as the Black Student Union and African American Theater Arts Troupe continue to call on administrators for greater representation and support.
“We are trying to have somebody here that will represent, or has experienced, some of the things students experience here on campus,” Castillo said.
To gauge whether candidates will be able to effectively support students of various backgrounds, the search advisory committee asks applicants to provide examples of moments when they have professionally, or personally, challenged issues surrounding diversity and inclusion.
Castillo has strong hopes for the job once a hire is announced. She feels that anyone coming into a leadership position must prioritize and listen to student voices, especially in working to support underrepresented students.
“I would want them to be directly talking to students. Hopefully they will be reaching out and asking whether they can come present in meetings and make themselves available,” Castillo said. “At the end of the day, they are here to support us, so they should be listening to us rather than just staying at an admin level.”