Dania Matos, former associate chancellor and chief diversity officer at UC Merced, will formally become UC Berkeley’s vice chancellor for equity and inclusion beginning Aug. 16.
Matos will be replacing former vice chancellor Oscar Dubón, Jr., who stepped down from the position after four years. Until Matos officially undertakes the role, Sharon Inkelas, campus professor in the linguistics department, will serve as interim vice chancellor in the meantime.
Before her official starting date, Matos has plans to initiate formal and informal listening tours in order to properly document campus community stories and experiences.
“I also bring my own critical consciousness to examine structural inequities and see what needs to be dismantled and newly created,” Matos said in an email. “Through those interactions, I will gauge how to create an expanded vision for what diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and justice will look like at Berkeley.”
Listening was an important part of Matos’ work at UC Merced, according to Rich Shintaku, former senior advisor and chief of staff for the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost at UC Merced.
Shintaku worked closely with Matos at UC Merced as she stepped into the inaugural role.
“(Matos) inherited and had to build an organization from the ground up,” Shintaku said. “Early on, what really impressed me was that she was very intentional about listening. That’s one of her strengths.”
With a focus on student and family engagement, policing, faculty recruitment and retention and funding and research, Matos developed the Valuing Black Lives Task Force, launching the long-term Valuing Black Lives Initiative. The initiative centers on three pillars: “Black Success, Black Wellness, and Black Thriving,” Matos said in the email.
Matos also developed the People First Workgroup. The group worked to execute action planning and various COVID-19 experience surveys in order to “center humanity in all that (they) do,” according to Matos.
Previously an attorney, Matos has a history in social justice and activism. She said Brown University was where she first discovered the impact of systemic oppression on the student journey.
She added that UC Berkeley and Brown University both have beginnings in activism and that the upcoming position will allow for a blend of her professional, law and undergraduate experience.
Inkelas said she was optimistic about Matos’ upcoming role, adding that she will bring positive experience and qualities to the position.
According to Inkelas, the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent events have created strong social justice opportunities for the campus.
“I look forward to working with VCEI Matos in creating a campus that actively seeks out diversity, thoughtfully diagnoses structural barriers to inclusion, and works intentionally to create a culture of support and a feeling of belonging for all,” Inkelas said in an email.