Chancellor Christ: How can we make our graduate student community more diverse?

Chancellor Carol Christ issued the following message on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019: 

Dear friends and colleagues,

Over the course of the last year, in a series of messages to campus, I have described the values, objectives, and aspirations that are guiding our work to increase the diversity of our campus community. The excellence of the University depends on our ability to foster, embrace, and embody diversity of every kind, in the full sense of the word.

Previous messages have focused on undergraduate, staff, and faculty populations, as well as members of our community with disabilities. Today I want to describe our plans and commitments for the graduate student community.

As many of you know, on July 1, Lisa García Bedolla, Professor of Education, took office as our new Vice Provost of Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate Division. Concurrent with this change in leadership we are launching a new Graduate Student Diversity Task Force. With a broadly representative membership, the group will be co-chaired by the Vice Provost, a representative from Academic Senate, and a representative from the Graduate Assembly.

While a number of existing programs and services help to support diversity and inclusion among graduate students, we need to develop and implement a truly comprehensive, coordinated, campus-wide strategy. The work of the task force will focus on (1) the development of recommendations to expand diversity in the graduate student body by increasing the enrollment of underrepresented, low socioeconomic status, and first-generation graduate students, and (2) improving the campus experience and academic outcomes for underrepresented graduate students across all of our graduate programs.

The task force will look at three specific areas:

  • Outreach and recruitment: Identify and develop best practices in building robust applicant pools and recruitment strategies that will increase the diversity of Berkeley’s graduate programs.
  • Admissions Process and Practices: Identify or develop best practices and interventions at the individual faculty, department/program/school, and graduate division levels to encourage equity of opportunity for students interested in and applying to graduate study programs.
  • Campus Experience: Develop recommendations for improving the campus experience and academic outcomes for all our graduate students.

I will ask the Task Force to complete its work by Spring 2020, at which point we will share the findings and recommendations with the Academic Senate, the Graduate Assembly, and the campus community as a whole. We will then move quickly to begin implementation of the accepted recommendations and proposals.

In the meantime, the campus will continue to support a wide range of existing initiatives that advance diversity and inclusion for our graduate students — programs which are coordinated centrally by the Office for Graduate Diversity (OGD) and the Division of Equity and Inclusion, as well as within academic units and divisions.

We are committed to keeping the campus informed and engaged as this essential work unfolds. I am both confident and optimistic that we are well positioned to build a campus community that truly reflects the diversity — and the very highest ideals — of the public we serve.


Carol Christ