Two College Faculty to Help Lead Campuswide DEI Efforts
Two faculty members in the Department of History in the College of Letters and Science have taken new leadership roles in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion at UC Davis.
Lorena Oropeza, professor of history, has been appointed vice chancellor for Academic Diversity within the campus Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, after serving in an interim capacity since last fall.
Rachel Jean-Baptiste, associate professor of history, has been named faculty director of the Institute for Diversity, Equity and Advancement, or IDEA.
As associate vice chancellor for academic diversity, Oropeza focuses on building the inclusive excellence of UC Davis faculty and academic appointees and their pivotal role in nurturing a positive campus climate, the quality of the UC Davis student experience, and enhancing diversity within the pathways through higher education.
Oropeza has served on the faculty at UC Davis since 1996. Her scholarship has focused on Mexican American/Chicanx history, with a particular interest in the social protests of the 1960s. Her most recent book, The King of Adobe: Reies López Tijerina, Lost Prophet of the Chicano Movement, published by University of North Carolina Press, won the Norris and Carol Hundley Prize for Outstanding Book 2019, awarded by the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association.
In 2017, she received an American Historical Association Equity Award for excellence in recruiting and retaining historians from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. That same year, she also received a Chancellor’s Achievement Award for Diversity and Community.
Turning DEI research into action
The IDEA center was launched this past year within the campus Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion by Vice Chancellor Renetta Garrison Tull, who serves as the center’s founding executive director. As faculty director, Jean-Baptiste is leading a foundational research project that will address anti-Blackness.
The IDEA website states the center serves to centralize the efforts of DEI-related research, to analyze metrics, scale promising practices and broadly disseminate outcomes. From hard conversations the center aims to promote action that is “poised to shape the future of education and opportunity at UC Davis and throughout higher education.”
Jean-Baptiste, who joined UC Davis in 2014, is a historian of 20th- and 21st-century French-speaking Central and West Africa. Her research interests include the history of sexuality, gender and women; marriage and family law; race; citizenship; and urbanization.
She has worked with nonprofit organizations and K-12 schools in creating more equitable educational outcomes. She also is a faculty success coach with the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity at the University of Michigan.
Jean-Baptiste served as faculty director for the UC Education Abroad Program’s Study Center in France in 2017-19 and received a 2019 Chancellor’s Award for International Engagement.
— Kathleen Holder, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science