Skip to main content

Black Academic Excellence Initiative 

UC San Diego’s Black Academic Excellence Initiative helps strengthen support for our Black campus community and aims to improve the presence and experience of Black faculty, students, and staff.



UC San Diego is committed to improving the university experience for our Black students, staff, and faculty. Through the Black Academic Excellence Initiative (BAEI), the Vice Chancellor of the Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), Becky Petitt, has initiated community conversations and collaborated with campus partners to provide spaces for healing and to center what we, as a University, can do to ensure our Black campus community members feel safe, seen, and supported. Vice Chancellor Petitt charged the BAEI Advisory Committee to develop recommendations that would improve the presence and experience of Black faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, and staff.

VC-EDI developed the Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence, a roadmap to fulfill our vision to be a student-centered, research-focused, service-oriented, public university. The Plan demonstrates our collective commitment to academic and institutional excellence through strategic diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. To address the needs of our Black community, we have taken a number of specific measures to ensure a culture of care and belonging on campus consistent with the core tenets of our Plan: Access and Success, Climate, and Accountability.

  • Access and Success: Attract, retain, and support a diverse faculty, staff, and student body with the goal of reflecting California demographics and achieving institutional excellence.
  • Climate: Create and foster a positive and welcoming climate where we value, include, and support all at UC San Diego.
  • Accountability: Ensure institutional accountability through processes and structures that strengthen UC San Diego's clear and continuous commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion.


Community Voices

Interviews featuring community members who are advancing the mission of the BAEI.

Danielle Simien

CAPS Liaison to the BRC Danielle Simien provides culturally responsive mental health services to underrepresented students.

Read More

Adam Burgasser

Professor Adam Burgasser is eager to create more pathways for Black students to thrive in physics and astronomy.

Read More

Franklin Garrett

An advocate for diversity in STEM, Franklin Garrett works to uplift students at UC San Diego.

Read More

Originating from the Gyaman people of Ghana and la Côte d'Ivoire, the Adinkra symbols below symbolize the principles and ideals of the BAEI.


  • Sesa Wo Suban: Reflection, change, transformation.
  • Sankofa: One of our BAEI Core Values, meaning learning from the past to build for the future.
  • Aya: Endurance, independence, defiance against difficulties.
  • Dweninmmen: Strength, humility, wisdom, and learning.
  • Nsaa: Excellence, genuineness, authenticity. 

Recommendations and Presentation

The BAEI Committee submitted their recommendations to Enhance the Black experience at UC San Diego. A recommendation implementation work group has been formed to aid in the implementation of the recommendations. Since the submission of the report, several of the student-focused recommendations, including expanding the staff of the BRC, expansion of CAPS counselors to support Black students’ well-being, and the hiring of a Graduate and Professional Student Support Coordinator to support Black graduate student retention and success, have been implemented. In regards to faculty recommendations, we are in the midst of a two-year cluster hire to increase the representation of faculty whose scholarly work is at the intersection of the Black Diaspora and STEM. 

BAEI Report Presentation

BAEI Recommendations Summary Report

Our Latest Progress

On February 13, 2023, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (VC EDI) hosted nearly 100 UC San Diego community members in the Great Hall to learn about the ongoing work of the Black Academic Excellence Initiative (BAEI). Staff, leadership, and members of the BAEI Advisory Committee representing Student Affairs, the Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Health and Health Sciences, and Institutional Research attended to show their support. Additionally, representatives from UC San Diego’s Black Alumni Association, Black Student Union, as well as faculty members from Biological Sciences, Pharmacy, Public Health, Physical Sciences, Psychology, and History were in attendance to hear about progress made through the initiative.  

Executive leadership kicked off the event by sharing the history of the BAEI to frame the exciting progress we have made. These efforts are closely linked to the campus-wide Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence, which has guided our advancement in our mission to enhance the UC San Diego experience for our Black students, staff, and faculty. Through the Advancing Faculty Diversity (AFD) Cluster Hire Initiative, we have welcomed eight new faculty members whose research and pedagogy are bridging Black studies and STEM. Prioritizing diversity in recruitment has allowed us to increase representation of Black faculty members across multiple disciplines, promoting a more inclusive teaching and learning environment for all.  

We have also prioritized culturally responsive mental health care for both students and staff through the hiring of Black counselors at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP). Additionally, we have had the opportunity to expand support for the Black Studies Project through a generous five-year grant that will allow the BSP to expand its scholarship and mentorship around racial and social justice. During our panel discussion, we heard from our collaborative partners and allies in the School of Medicine, Health, Student Affairs, Enrollment Management, and the Black Resource Center, who have been integral to the progress of the BAEI. 

Assistant Dean of Diversity and Community Partnerships at the School of Medicine, Dr. Maria Rosario (Happy) Araneta, provided updates on ongoing community outreach at the School of Medicine. Some inspiring new developments include hypertension screenings at a local barbershop in San Diego, revitalizing outreach and recruitment practices, and the establishment of the Anti-Racism and Health Equity Task Force. Dr. Araneta was proud to announce that the recent classes of medical students have been the most diverse in the history of the School of Medicine. This trend reflects the changing demographics of the state of California, as well as the success of our efforts to intentionally recruit and support students from historically underrepresented backgrounds.   

Dr. Crystal Wiley Cené, Chief Administrative Officer for Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and Associate Chief Medical Officer for Health Equity, shared details about her role, created in response to input from the Black Student Union. The purpose of this role will be to educate the workforce on how to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion in each interaction at UC San Diego Health. Cultivating an inclusive healthcare environment benefits both patients and medical professionals at UC San Diego by ensuring a sense of trust, safety, and support for all.  

Our Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Dr. Alysson Satterlund, shared several ongoing efforts to improve the Black student experience on campus. She provided a number of notable updates in the areas of health and well-being, experience and engagement, as well as sense of belonging and inclusion. Initiatives from Student Affairs include the hiring of two gender affirming care coordinators in collaboration with Student Health and Well-Being and VC EDI, the launch of our Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT) program, TritonCORE, and the establishment of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) Plaza, which will open in Fall 2023. The NPHC Plaza will be the first in the history of the UC system, a significant achievement for UC San Diego as we create more culturally relevant programs and resources to ensure the success of our Black students. 

Dean for the Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs (GEPA) Dr. Jim Antony discussed ongoing initiatives at the Office of Outreach, Access, Recruitment, and Retention, or OAR^2. Through partnerships with Minority Serving Institutions (MSI), the development of student-centered pathway programs, and other strategic programs, OAR^2 is geared toward transforming the way UC San Diego recruits prospective students. Using a collective impact approach, we are developing targeted outreach programs to reach underrepresented students and creating pathways to ensure their success once they are enrolled at UC San Diego. 

Dean of Undergraduate Education Dr. John Moore highlighted the theme of Eighth College: Engagement and Community. The College, focused on timely issues around structural racism, social justice, economic disparities, and more, welcomed Dr. Angela Booker as its inaugural Provost in January. Dr. Moore shared a few of Eighth College’s recent updates, including the Advancing Equity in the Major Initiative, an equity-minded collaboration among Undergraduate Education, VC EDI, Institutional Research, and Student Retention & Success aimed at addressing student opportunity gaps. Dr. Moore's update also shed light on the Black Diaspora and African American Studies major that is now available to undergraduate students. Launched in Fall 2022 the major demonstrates UC San Diego’s commitment to recognizing and validating the unique history, experiences, contributions, and innovations of the Black community.  

John Rawlins III, Director of the Black Resource Center (BRC), shared several exciting updates from the BRC. The BRC, a unit within VC EDI, partnered with GEPA and graduate students to launch the Black Graduate LLC, which centers the Black graduate experience in its programming and connections with community partners. Another critical development is the expansion of the BRC staff through the creation and hire of a new FTE Associate Director. The expansion is an important step toward creating more pathways for Black students to connect with each other, access resources, receive support, and engage with culturally relevant programming. Rawlins joined UC San Diego as BRC Director at the beginning of the academic year and has already made a significant impact on our students. He was proud to highlight the inspiring displays that students put together in the Library to celebrate Black History Month and looks forward to more opportunities to collaborate with students and the larger campus community. As he continues to become familiar with UC San Diego, he is eager to creatively engage with the campus and continue to strengthen support for students.  

As the safety of our campus community is of the utmost importance, Chief Lamine Secka of the UC San Diego Police Department was invited to attend along with others from the Police Department. Chief Secka shared the department’s focus on rebuilding relationships and reengaging with the campus community as many students, staff, and faculty return to campus for the first time since the pandemic. Chief Secka is new to his role at UC San Diego and looks forward to serving and getting to know the campus community. 

We are grateful to our community partners who work to make UC San Diego a welcoming, supportive, and respectful environment for our Black students, staff, and faculty. We thank you for joining us to hear the latest updates from the Black Academic Excellence Initiative, and we look forward to sharing more of our innovations and developments with you in the future.  

We can only achieve our goals when we all make a commitment to continuous learning and improvement, and listening to the voices of our constituents is a vital part of that process. We owe our progress to our collaborators across the University who have inspired us to continue pursuing inclusive excellence to make UC San Diego a place where everyone feels safe and can thrive.  

BAEI Programming

We invite you to attend our upcoming EDI events that advance the mission of the BAEI.

The Scholarship

UC San Diego and the Black Alumni Council are partnering to strengthen support of Black students. The Black Academic Excellence Initiative will help grow the existing Black Alumni Scholarship Fund established by the UC San Diego Black Alumni Council in partnership with The San Diego Foundation. Gifts will support privately administered scholarships for admitted Black undergraduates to enhance campus recruitment and retention efforts.

Programmatic Support

Black students thrive in an environment that welcomes and validates all of their identities while nurturing their academic and personal development. This welcome, validation, and nurturing comes in part from faculty and staff who share similar identities and can act as role models and cultural guides as they perform their campus duties. Since this higher level of engagement and support of these students often competes for time faculty and staff need to excel in their chosen fields, our university needs to support them in achieving this critical balance.  

With this in mind, the Black Academic Excellence Initiative will garner resources to support the scholarly work of Black faculty and the professional development of Black staff. In addition, the initiative will direct resources towards programs and activities that emphasize and elevate the Black experience throughout the campus community. 

To learn more about supporting the Black Academic Excellence Initiative, visit our Give page or contact UC San Diego Director of Development John Duca at (858)534-8305 or