Diversity scholar and psychologist wins Chancellor’s Award

Psychologist Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton is this year's winner of the Chancellor's Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence

Psychologist Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton is this year’s winner of the Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence

Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton, a UC Berkeley psychology professor well-known for his research about stigma and bias, and author of the book, Are We Born Racist? is the winner of this year’s Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence.

The accolade, which comes with a $10,000 award, is for faculty with a distinguished record of promoting diversity while advancing equity and inclusion through their scholarship, research, teaching and public or university service.

“As an award-winning teacher and mentor, Mendoza-Denton has transformed the lives of countless students through the courses he teaches and the extensive support he provides to a large and extraordinarily diverse group of undergraduates, graduate students and GSIs,” Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said in a statement announcing the award.

“He has also made tremendous contributions to the university through his involvement and leadership on a wide range of diversity and equity efforts, including two new campus-wide climate initiatives for students and faculty; several high-level projects supporting diversity in STEM fields; and our Undergraduate Initiative, among others,” Dirks added.

Mendoza-Denton, a faculty advisor for UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and a prolific writer for for Psychology Today, the Berkeley Blog and other publications, plans to use the award money to support student psychology research projects that aim to advance diversity and inclusion. For example, he said, he’d like to set up “safe spaces” around campus for inter-group discussions about race, class, gender, faith, political orientation and other topics. Students would be trained as facilitators of these discussions.

“My mother always said, ‘People understand each other by talking,’ and that is one of the core mantras that I live by,” Mendoza-Denton said.

Previous recipients of the Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence are ethnic studies professor Evelyn Nakano Glenn and earth and planetary science professor Mark Richards (2014), chemistry professor Angelica Stacy (2013), education professor W. Norton Grubb (2012), education professor Frank Worrell (2011), public health professor Denise Herd (2010), archaeology professor Margaret Conkey (2009), African American studies professor Charles Henry (2008), biochemistry professor Caroline Kane, education professor Jabari Mahiri, city and regional planning professor Frederick Collignon and English professor Susan Schweik (2007), engineering professor Alice Agogino,  astronomy professor Gibor Basri, chemistry professor William Lester and psychology professor Rhona Weinstein (2006).

Mendoza-Denton will be honored at a ceremony at Alumni House on Nov. 17.