Dear Bruin Community:
We write today to officially announce UCLA’s Faculty Forward Initiative — a campuswide effort focusing on the recruitment and retention of faculty committed to scholarship, research, mentorship and education related to those who have traditionally been underrepresented in academia.
As we expand UCLA’s faculty body in order to accommodate increases in student enrollment, we also intend to position UCLA as the premier university for advancing the research, learning and engagement of faculty from underrepresented groups. Along with efforts like our Rising to the Challenge, Hispanic Serving Institution and Native American and Pacific Islander Bruins Rising initiatives, the Faculty Forward Initiative will strengthen UCLA’s intellectual landscape; attract faculty with more varied backgrounds and expertise; and reinforce equity, diversity and inclusive excellence as guiding imperatives of our institution.
This initiative — which was shaped by leaders from across campus and is being co-chaired by Tina Christie, the Wasserman Dean at UCLA’s School of Education and Information Studies and Tracy Johnson, Dean of UCLA’s Division of Life Sciences — is developing a framework to achieve the following objectives:
• Employ evidence-based analysis to identify and replicate actions that have helped departments successfully diversify and transform their workplace culture to support faculty retention
• Help develop toolkits and allocate funds to strengthen academic departments’ success at supporting and retaining underrepresented faculty
• Provide funds to support the recruitment of new faculty committed to scholarship, research and education related to those from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds
• Support cohort hires that build intellectual community and collaboration across units
• Provide resources for faculty work that advances UCLA’s commitment to inclusive excellence
Promoting such a commitment to inclusive excellence and achieving greater diversity within UCLA’s faculty body is critical to the relevance of our research, the effectiveness of our teaching and the caliber of our graduates. There is ample evidence that having a diverse faculty expands the types of inquiry our scholars pursue, that students benefit from having educators and role models who look like them, and that in a global economy employers want university graduates who are skilled at working with people from different backgrounds.
Scholars of all identities are drawn to UCLA due to its reputation for excellence. While complying fully with California’s Proposition 209 — which bars preferential treatment on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in hiring or admissions — we have attracted an accomplished and diverse cohort of new faculty in the past several years. Since the 2019–20 academic year, 25% of UCLA’s ladder-rank faculty hires have been from historically underrepresented ethnic groups, and in recent years more than half of our new faculty have been women. We can build on this momentum and make even more progress — both in diversifying our faculty and in making sure UCLA is a place where those from underrepresented groups will flourish and stay.
We want to thank the Faculty Forward Initiative’s co-chairs and all of the individuals across campus who will be moving this effort forward. We will share further updates about the work in the coming months.
Recruiting and retaining an ever-more talented and diverse faculty committed to our mission of teaching, research and service will build on the legacy we have created during UCLA’s first century. Further, it will help us make UCLA’s second century even better, helping us to pursue excellence while building towards a more just and equitable society.
Gene D. Block
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost