A Message from Dean Maurer

Bill Maurer
Friday August 14 14:44:12 PDT 2020

    Dear faculty, lecturers, students, researchers and staff,

    I write today with some happy/sad news. As you may have already heard,
    Belinda Robnett, sociology professor and our inaugural associate dean
    of faculty development and diversity in social sciences, has been named
    the first-ever vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion at
    UC Santa Barbara. Her role on our sister campus begins September 1 which
    means she will be leaving us by the end of the month.

    When Belinda stepped into her associate dean role on July 1, 2018, she
    came with a plan to elevate existing - and create new – programs to
    facilitate excellence in attracting and retaining a diverse faculty and
    student body. The role was a perfect fit for Belinda, a sociologist
    who’s spent more than three decades studying diversity from a
    racial-ethnic, gender and social perspective.

    In her two-year tenure at the helm of our diversity and inclusion
    efforts, Belinda established the Faculty and Graduate Student Diversity
    Education Certificate Programs and supplemental workshops and trainings
    aimed at equipping our academics with tools to foster and support
    inclusivity in everyday interactions. She oversaw our undergraduate
    student programs focused on diversity while she worked to build a
    learning and work environment that supports equitable inclusion. In
    May, she spearheaded the school’s successful effort to create the
    Enhancing Diversity and Equitable Inclusion Thriving in the Academy
    Program with a five-year, $350,000 grant from the UC-Hispanic Serving
    Institutions Doctoral Diversity Initiative (UC-HSI DDI). Launching in
    fall – with plans now underway for finding a new director-- the novel
    program will focus on retaining, training and graduating underrepresented
    minority Ph.D. students by facilitating professional networks, research
    collaborations, institutional knowledge sharing, productive relationships
    with peer and senior mentors, and feelings of belonging – all proven
    tactics to help retain underrepresented groups.

    An LA native, Belinda earned an A.B. in psychology at Stanford University,
    Ed.M. at Harvard University, and M.A. in psychology at Princeton
    University. She went on to get her M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology at the
    University of Michigan where she focused heavily on racial and ethnic
    inequality. She then spent nine years on the faculty of the Department
    of Sociology and about seven years as a faculty member in the Women’s
    Studies Program at UC Davis before coming to UC Irvine in 1999. Her
    research, which has been funded by the National Science Foundation and
    Russell Sage Foundation, seeks to understand how racial-ethnic and gender
    hierarchies are formed by and maintained within formal and informal
    societal institutions including social movement organizations and the
    dating market. Her book, How Long? How Long? African-American Women in the
    Struggle for Civil Rights, analyzes the formation of women’s leadership
    roles in the civil rights movement and highlights the gendered nature
    of leadership in social movements. She also examines racial hierarchy in
    the dating market, and illustrates that racial inclusion and exclusion is
    gendered. Her scholarly work has been published in the American Journal
    of Sociology, Race and Social Problems, Sociological Perspectives,
    Social Problems and Social Forces, among others.

    Among her many contributions to the UCI campus, Belinda served as the
    chair of the Subcommittee on Affirmative Action and Diversity, UCI Council
    on Faculty Welfare Committee; as the School of Social Sciences Equity
    Advisor; as a member of the Subcommittee on Racial/Ethnic Diversity,
    Council on Student Experience; as a member of the Special Senate
    Committee on Diversity; and, as the director of the African American
    Studies Program.

    As a core member of the school’s executive leadership team,
    I will sorely miss Belinda’s insight and expertise on building a
    more representative student body and professoriate and her cheerful,
    optimistic outlook and unwavering commitment to excellence.

    Please join me in thanking and congratulating Belinda for all she has done
    and will continue to do in her new post at UC Santa Barbara. Information
    on a Zoom celebration will be forthcoming; I encourage you all to help
    us send her off (Zoom) Anteater-style before she begins her time as a
    Gaucho. More information will be coming soon as I consider how best to
    fill the gap created by Belinda’s departure and how best to structure
    our senior leadership team.