The College of Chemistry welcomes Dr. Brice Yates as Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer

February 8, 2021

Brice Yates, Chief Diversity Officer

The College of Chemistry at UC Berkeley is delighted to announce that Dr. Brice Yates has joined us as the inaugural Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer. He will be reporting to Professor Anne Baranger, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Dr. Yates joins the College with over ten years’ experience in higher education focused on DEI initiatives. He is coming from a position as Assistant Vice President for Institutional Equity at Baylor University in Texas. He has worked extensively with both students and University administrations on planning and implementations of a number of diversity programs during his career. He has degrees in Spanish and communications and recently completed his Ph.D. at Indiana State University. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. He was the recipient of the Outstanding Contributions to Student Leadership Programs Award from NASPA in 2016. He sits as a reviewer on the Higher Learning Commission which is responsible for accrediting degree-granting secondary educational institutions in 19 U.S. States.

Prof. Baranger said of Dr. Yates’ arrival, “We are excited to have Dr. Yates join the College as our Chief Diversity Officer. He brings a wealth of experience promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in administrative roles at several universities. I look forward to working with him to effect change in  the College of Chemistry to increase diversity, build equity, and support inclusion in the College of Chemistry community at all levels.”

In his new position, Dr. Yates will develop and direct programs to engage the College’s faculty, staff, and students in STEM DEI efforts. Initially he will be working with Prof. Baranger on the development of a five year strategic plan. He plans to come up to speed on the initiatives currently active at the College and start discussions with the community about what they would like to see developed in the future.

Dr Yates said, “One thing I would like to get started are ‘coffee hours’ which is a great way to meet some of the College’s students, faculty, and staff. Initially, they will have to be virtual but I’m looking forward to meeting the College’s community.”

Dr. Yates recently completed his Ph.D. at Indiana State University. His dissertation is entitled: "Cultural Month Celebrations at Predominantly White Institutions". Dr. Yates said of his research, “My passion is diversity, equity, and inclusion. There has been a lot of research done about how cultural centers influence diversity at predominantly white institutions (PWI), but no one had really looked at the question of how cultural month celebrations influence diversity. I worked with Hispanic Heritage Month and LGBT History Month as my research focus for the study.

“My overall findings demonstrated the importance of these monthly celebrations at PWIs, while also indicating additional work remains in the areas of support and a welcoming environment for the monthly celebrations. It is important that  minoritized populations are recognized and supported on campus, and that the campus environment affirms and welcomes all identities.”

As the study sought to capture the perception of cultural programming initiatives, the research demonstrated the importance of diversity and inclusion initiatives, such as cultural month celebrations, being components of the institutional fabric. Dr Yates stated, “Diversity and inclusion initiatives cannot be afterthoughts or relegated to a specific department or office on campus. Institutions must prioritize and commit to diversity and inclusion.”

Dr. Yates provided several examples of programs he has developed that focus on equity and inclusion, “One event I established was the Barbershop Talk Series, which was a monthly casual drop-in discussion program for Black and Latino men to discuss the impact of being a minority in a majority world. Within the Black and Latino communities barbershops are important, not just serving as a place to get a haircut but as a social outlet to provide support and learn from one another. The initiative was created at a PWI where numbers are often lower for Black and Latino males. I wanted to create a sense of familiarity and support initiatives for the men on campus. We discussed academics, social issues (local and national), as well as casual conversations around sports and entertainment.

“A second initiative was the Social Justice Series discussing topics of “How to be an Ally and Advocate”, “Civil Discourse”, and “Supporting Minoritized Students at PWIs”. The series was open to all members of the university and provided resources and information around social justice issues. As social activism continues to emerge across the county and at PWIs, institutions need to provide arenas of learning and opportunities for discussion.” 

Dr. Yates continued, "I strive to promote diversity and inclusion through my professional work. Throughout my career, I have created environments and learning opportunities that have incorporated people of many cultures and backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in academe. I genuinely believe in leading the charge of inclusive excellence where fairness, access, equity, and social justice for all are the norms rather than the exceptions.”

We welcome Dr. Yates and look forward to his help growing the College’s STEM DEI initiative.