Following the customary five-year administrative review, Chancellor Block and I have asked Darnell Hunt to continue to serve as the dean of social sciences at the UCLA College. I am pleased to announce that he has accepted the reappointment.
Dean Hunt oversees UCLA’s largest division and is known widely as a capable leader with a steady hand. The review committee praised him as supportive, transparent, level-headed, fair, collaborative and strongly committed to diversity.
On his watch, the social sciences division developed a strategic plan that articulates a clear vision and priorities for the years ahead. Dean Hunt says the plan is built upon existing excellence, reinforces core values, strengthens existing initiatives, and fosters new ones.
Reflected in both the plan and in Dean Hunt’s broader leadership is a commitment to engaged scholarship, or research that can be directly applied to social issues faced by people and communities. Several of the new centers in his division, including the Bedari Kindness Institute, established in 2019, and the Barbra Streisand Center, established in 2021 and affiliated with the Center for the Study of Women, reflect this philosophy. In addition, Dean Hunt oversaw the recent renaming of the Downtown Labor Center after UCLA professor and activist Rev. James Lawson, Jr. — a clear indicator of the ties between scholarship and action that lie at the heart of the social sciences division.
In other ways, Dean Hunt has brought his division’s resources to bear on the pressing issues of our time. In 2020, with the U.S. grappling with racial justice issues as well as historical and contemporary inequities, he announced new means of support for graduate students examining critical social justice issues by establishing the Dean’s Fund for the Study of Diversity and Racial Inequality.
In 2017, Dean Hunt launched LA Social Science, an e-forum which highlights cutting-edge research in the division, ranging from studies of the impact of COVID-19 upon communities of color to the publication of the Hollywood Diversity Report. This campaign encourages engagement with alumni, students, policymakers, the Los Angeles community and the wider community beyond the city’s borders. The campaign was also a successful fundraising and promotional effort, raising the division’s profile locally and nationally.
Other new programs Dean Hunt has spearheaded include the division’s Big Data Initiative and Big Data Social Science, a series of measures initiated in 2017 to advance and improve data science research in the division.
In particularly difficult times, Dean Hunt has proven his strength, diligence and a commitment to not only enhancing and elevating his division, but also to addressing society’s most important struggles.
Please join me in congratulating Dean Hunt on his achievements thus far and wishing him well on what lies ahead.
Michael S. Levine
Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost