GiborBasri

Gibor Basri is a professor of astrophysics at UC Berkeley, as well as the first Vice-Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion. The New York Times ran a story recently about what Basri does on Sundays, which briefly touched on his work with the Kepler telescope and his co-discovery of brown dwarfs, which are celestial bodies the size of stars and planets.

When Basri isn’t busy scanning the sky for Earth-size planets, he spends his time scanning the faces at UC Berkeley. As the vice-chancellor, Basri’s goal is to ensure that the students, faculty and staff of the school reflect California’s diverse population. Basri’s office has just released a strategic report detailing the university’s plans to achieve equality.

Some UC Berkeley diversity statistics:

African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans only comprise 15.6% of the undergraduates, (even though close to half of those graduating from California high school are underrepresented minorities), 10.6% of the graduate students, 6.5% of the tenured faculty, and 26.2% of staff.

Women make up 45% of faculty in the arts and humanities; 32% in the social sciences, 26% in the biological sciences, and 11% in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

According to a 2009 undergraduate survey, 86% of students identify themselves as heterosexual and 7% identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, or questioning.

Of the 920 managers at UC Berkeley, 46.2% are women and 23.8% are ethnic minorities. Of the members of the senior management group, 24% are women and 15.6% are ethnic minorities.

The Strategic Plan for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity sets out a number of broad goals. It calls for UC Berkeley to become an academic leader in researching issues of equity, including “exploring the nature of multicultural societies and the ways in which such societies flourish,” among other ideas.

The plan calls for the university to help increase the pool of eligible applicants by working with K-12 schools and community colleges. These efforts could include offering summer classes that strengthen an applicant’s candidacy to Berkeley, encouraging training programs to get more college advisors in high schools, and working with school districts to make sure more underrepresented minority students take the classes that will make them eligible for UC.

The report also calls for more mentors on the Berkeley campus to smooth the transition through college for underrepresented minorities and to make sure their experience at Cal is a positive one. It also suggests strengthening Berkeley’s Multicultural Center and setting up more groups to facilitate cross cultural and cross group interactions.

Frances Dinkelspiel

Frances Dinkelspiel (co-founder) is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California,...

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