UC Berkeley graduate diversity program awards $1.5M in grants

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The College of Chemistry was recently awarded one of nine four-year grants from the UC Berkeley Graduate Diversity Pilot Program. The program, which was implemented in July, selected each department that was awarded a grant based on the projected effectiveness of the department’s proposal for itself and the campus community.

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UC Berkeley’s Graduate Diversity Pilot Program awarded a total of $1.5 million in grants to nine university departments, according to an Oct. 1 announcement from the campus graduate division.

Established in July, the Graduate Diversity Pilot Program provides funding to “improve departmental climates” for all students, faculty, staff and postdoctoral fellows in an effort to increase diversity, equity and inclusion on campus, according to the announcement.

“The racial, ethnic and cultural demographics of the nation, and especially California, are changing dramatically and it’s important that our student body reflect this,” said Denzil Streete, assistant dean for diversity of the campus graduate division, in an email. “Even more important is the fact that the participation of diverse voices and experiences enhances innovation and outcomes.”

Departments that have received up to $175,000 in four-year grants include the chemistry, architecture, comparative literature, geography, history, integrative biology, linguistics and sociology departments, as well as the campus School of Information.

Grants were awarded to departments based on how each department’s proposal would create sustainable and inclusive initiatives both for itself and for the overall campus, according to Streete.

Streete added that the pilot program is part of a set of initiatives designed to increase diversity, create a more inclusive environment and improve the experiences of underrepresented student groups on campus.

According to the announcement from the graduate division, many of the grant funds will directly support students through stipends, fee waivers, grants, paid internships, graduate student hiring and fellowships.

“At the graduate level, many of our students go on to top leadership positions both in industry and academia,” said Anne Baranger, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion at the campus College of Chemistry. “The more we can diversify our graduate population, we are effectively diversifying the upper levels of chemistry and chemical engineering across the country.”

The funds from the grant will be used to create a Graduate Diversity Pilot Program specifically for the College of Chemistry, according to a College of Chemistry press release. Baranger said this program will give graduate students in the college the opportunity to propose their own diversity initiatives and receive a stipend.

The funds will also be used to give one graduate student every year a fellowship toward gaining expertise in diversity, equity and inclusion program development, according to the press release. Baranger added that the recipient will have their tuition and fees waived for a year.

Along with the nine recipients, the graduate division will provide support to all departments submitting proposals, according to Streete. 

“It is our hope that as these 9 departments embark on this journey, learning from each other in the process, we will be developing a body of best practices in this area — which will redound to the benefit of all graduate programs at Cal,” Streete said in the email.

Contact Natalie Lu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @natalie_c_lu.