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Leadership Diversity: Living Your Values at the Highest Levels

By University of California, Santa Cruz Chancellor Cynthia Larive:

The Chancellor of UC Santa Cruz writes about the steps her university is taking to attract diverse applicant pools for leadership positions.

As I write this column, the United States awaits a Supreme Court decision that could strike down affirmative action and limit the ability of universities to consider race as part of their decisions about admissions and hiring. For more than 25 years, California — home to the campus I lead — has prohibited the consideration of race, sex or ethnicity as criteria in public employment, public contracting and public education, following the passage of Proposition 209, which amended the California state constitution. 

Here, I share the ways that we at the University of California, Santa Cruz have maintained our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion while working within the constraints of Proposition 209 — how we have formed, over time, a team of leaders with different perspectives and life experiences and how those strategies could benefit my colleagues across the country.

Prof Celine Parreñas Shimizu was not seeking a new opportunity in the spring of 2021 when a recruiter from UC Santa Cruz reached out to tell her she had been nominated for our open arts dean position. She was then happily serving as Director of San Francisco State University School of Cinema, as a Professor of Cinema Studies, and as a member of the university’s graduate faculty in Sexuality Studies.

Yet the more she thought about the position, she later told me, the more it intrigued her. She had always admired UC Santa Cruz’s pedagogy and strong legacy of feminist scholars, including Angela Davis, Gloria Anzaldúa, Teresa De Lauretis and B Ruby Rich. She also noted that women held the top two leadership spots on our campus and that the senior leadership team seemed more diverse than those of our peer institutions.

“Campuses talk about valuing diversity and being agents of change, but here was one actually trying to make change," she told me as I was writing this article. “That suggested an understanding of the importance of opening doors.”

Read the rest of the article in Elsevier.