UC Berkeley professor accepts post as vice chancellor for equity and inclusion

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Na’ilah Nasir has been appointed UC Berkeley’s vice chancellor for equity and inclusion after the conclusion of a national search, campus officials announced Thursday.

A UC Berkeley professor and third-generation alumna, Nasir hopes to begin her tenure with a thorough examination of priorities and continue her predecessor’s data-driven approach to increasing equity and inclusion on campus.

“It’s a daunting responsibility, but I think it’s really important work,” Nasir said.

Nasir is a professor in the campus’s Graduate School of Education and the department of African American studies, which she has chaired since 2012. Her research focuses on the interaction of culture and race in the educational paths of underrepresented minority students.

The position of vice chancellor for equity and inclusion was created by former chancellor Robert Birgeneau in 2006 and has been filled by Gibor Basri, a UC Berkeley astronomy professor, since 2007.

During his term, Basri helped create the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, guided the division through the financial crisis and helped launch a survey on campus climate in which underrepresented minority students reported feeling less comfortable than other students on campus.

Beginning with Nasir’s appointment, the division will report directly to the executive vice chancellor and provost and will have a secondary reporting line to the chancellor, according to a campuswide email.

Nasir was a member of the campus’s Residential Faculty Program and, as part of the program, lived with her family in Unit 1.

“She’s really loved on this campus,” said Mahasin Mujahid, an assistant professor in the UC Berkeley School of Public Health who lived in Unit 1 with Nasir. Mujahid added that one of Nasir’s strengths is “making sure that everyone feels empowered to use their voice” when solving problems.

Jabari Mahiri, Nasir’s colleague and a professor in the Graduate School of Education, said Nasir’s international network will help her draw insights from top scholars to help her develop policies that will increase equity in areas such as race, gender and disabilities.

“Her unique skill set is such that she will increase the ways that students and staff will feel they are included in various levels of the university,” Mahiri said. “(She is) one of the most amazing diplomats I’ve seen, in terms of work in negotiations with faculty and students.”

According to the campuswide email, Nasir will begin her term Nov. 1. Basri, who will hold the position until then, plans to return to the astronomy department to serve as acting chair.

Contact Mira Chaplin at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @mirachaplin.