Task Force Finds Faculty Bias at UCLA

October 19, 2013 — An independent task force headed by former California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno found that UCLA officials have done little to address a pattern of discrimination and racial harassment against minority faculty at the campus.  The task force was established last year in response to a group of faculty members who were outraged by reports of discrimination against a black UCLA surgeon, Dr. Christian Head.  Head reached a $4.5 million settlement with the university earlier this year.  UCLA Chancellor Block released the report to the campus community Friday with the following statement:

Deans, Directors, Department Chairs, Administrative Officers, and Faculty
     Last year, some of our faculty approached us about incidents of bias and discrimination they had experienced at UCLA. Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh and I agreed that he would meet with them so that we could fully understand the experiences and concerns of underrepresented minority faculty on our campus. As a result of those discussions, we reached out to former California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno to lead an external panel made up of community leaders to review incidents of racial and ethnic bias and discrimination. That panel produced a report which I encourage you to read. It contains some sobering and disturbing accounts of what some of our colleagues have experienced at UCLA.
     My hope is that you will all take this report as seriously as I do. Our campus can and must do a better job of responding to faculty reports of racial and ethnic bias and discrimination and take steps to prevent such incidents from ever occurring. It is one thing to talk about our commitment to diversity and creating a welcoming campus; it is quite another to live up to those ideals. Rhetoric is no substitute for action. We must set an example for our students. We cannot tolerate bias, in any form, at UCLA. I sincerely regret any occasions in the past in which we have fallen short of our responsibility.
     When incidents of bias or discrimination occur, everyone needs to be comfortable reporting them, and everyone must be confident that the processes in place to deal with such incidents are both swift and fair. To that end, I have directed Executive Vice Chancellor Waugh to oversee the implementation of many of the recommendations contained in this report. While these recommendations do not represent an exhaustive list of what we will do, they are important first steps toward ensuring that we become the fully inclusive community we aspire to be.
      Consistent with one of the key recommendations, we are currently in the process of appointing a full-time discrimination officer. This appointment will build on the success and credibility of UCLA’s Title IX and Sexual Harassment Prevention Office and significantly expand its role. The new officer will investigate and catalog any reported allegations of racial and ethnic bias or discrimination and will help formalize the campus policy for reporting and responding to such incidents.
     Policy changes will clearly explain our definitions of bias and discrimination and provide instructions for how to report instances of both. We will be working with the Academic Senate to make sure complaints are properly and thoroughly adjudicated and that disciplinary action is taken when necessary. The Academic Senate has already amended its bylaws to create a stronger partnership with the administration to conduct investigations into incidents of bias and discrimination on campus, which will aid this process.
     No one should ever have to deal with anything less than mutual respect and equal consideration from their colleagues, particularly in a learning environment.
     I want to thank Justice Moreno and his committee for the care and thoughtfulness with which they prepared this important and illuminating report. I also want to thank our faculty members who participated in the process. Their courage and honesty inspire all of us to do better. That is my commitment going forward — to use this moment as an opportunity to improve. Our campus deserves nothing less.
Gene D. Block
Click HERE for the full report and HERE for a Los Angeles Times story on the findings.