UC Berkeley professor Raka Ray appointed as dean of Division of Social Sciences

Raka Ray/Courtesy

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UC Berkeley professor of sociology and South and Southeast Asian studies Raka Ray was appointed Friday as the next dean of the Division of Social Sciences in the College of Letters and Science.

According to a message to the campus community from Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos, Ray’s appointment will not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2020. Until then, sociology professor Kim Voss will serve as acting dean, effective July 1, 2019.

“An award-winning mentor, a highly collaborative leader, and skilled consensus-builder, Raka has also demonstrated an abiding commitment to advancing equity and inclusion in both her academic life and administrative work,” the message said.

History professor Carla Hesse, who has served as dean of the Division of Social Sciences for the past 10 years, is stepping down at the end of this year as her second five-year term comes to a close, according to campus spokesperson Michael Dirda.

Ray said in an email that she has been a professor at UC Berkeley since 1993 and currently teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses. Ray also said she recently wrote a book with some of her former graduate students titled “The Social Life of Gender,” which outlines a new method of teaching about gender.

According to Ray, the dean of the division is in charge of overseeing its 12 departments, research centers and programs. Ray added that the job of the dean should be to increase UC Berkeley’s relevance in the social sciences at a time when major changes in global economy, climate and political governance are taking place.

“All of these changes … shape the urgent nature of social science enquiry here at Berkeley,” Ray said in an email. “I see my job as creating a climate within which faculty and students can do their best work on questions such as these, questions that are most central to today’s globalized world.”

Linguistics chair and professor Keith Johnson said Ray’s cross-cultural feminist research is an important perspective she will bring to leadership on campus.

According to gender and women’s studies chair and professor Leslie Salzinger, she and Ray have been working together since the 1990s. Salzinger said she believes Ray’s commitment to public education and her “deep concerns” about equality around race, gender and citizenship will shape her role as dean.

“I believe deeply in Berkeley’s mission as a university that is both public and global, and in its commitments to diversity and inclusion and excellence,” Ray said in an email. “I have seen its ability to transform the lives of generations of students who then go on to transform the world. I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to be part of Berkeley’s mission, and help foster new generations of Berkeley students in the Social Sciences.”

Contact Maya Akkaraju at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @maya_akkaraju.