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Charles Henry's New Position Focuses on Faculty Diversity

By Julia Sommer, Public Affairs
posted September 30, 1998

"No, I don't make home loans to faculty," said Charles Henry, explaining his title of Faculty Equity Associate.

This new, full-time position combines responsibilities formerly handled by the half-time faculty assistants for academic affirmative action for minorities and for women. Henry has taken a two-year leave from his post as professor in the Department of African American Studies.

Despite passage of Proposition 209, there are federal affirmative action laws and executive orders that take precedence over state law, said Henry.

"It's a real challenge to maintain diversity in the face of 209, but that's why I took the job," he said. "I won't just be processing papers."

Henry will examine every faculty search, tenure review, promotion and merit increase to ensure that federal affirmative action mandates are followed and that faculty diversity remains a priority at Berkeley.

His office supplies all department chairs with "under-utilization data" indicating realistic goals for hiring women and minority faculty. "I'll be talking to chairs and deans about how to increase applicant pools," he said. "Broadening job descriptions and advertising more widely are two ways to do that."

Henry will also make sure that faculty have a chance to respond to tenure and promotion decisions. He serves in an advisory role to Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol Christ and Chancellor Berdahl, who make final hiring and promotion decisions.

To his surprise, Henry's "caseload" covers not only the Academic Senate (about 1,500 members), but also positions at UC Extension, Lawrence Hall of Science, Lawrence Berkeley Lab, and non-tenure-track positions on campus.

"People are certainly looking to Berkeley to see how we handle elimination of state affirmative action programs," said Henry. "We have a relatively short time to turn around the perception that Berkeley is hostile to women and minorities."

Henry will also oversee the Post-Doctoral Fellowship Program and the Junior Mentorship Program, formerly for women and minorities and now open to all junior faculty as a result of Prop. 209.

Henry's new job comes at an opportune time. He has just finished two books: "Foreign Policy and the Black (Inter)national Interest" to be published by State University Press of New York, and "Ralph Bunche: Model Negro or American Other?" to be published by New York University Press.

After receiving his PhD in political science from the University of Chicago in 1974, Henry taught at Howard and Denison. His field is African American politics and, increasingly, human rights. He has been a leader of Amnesty International since 1986 and was appointed to the Department of State's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor in Washington, D.C. in 1994-95.

"I am extremely pleased that Charles Henry has agreed to serve as the first Faculty Equity Associate," said Christ. "The outstanding national leadership he has shown in his work for Amnesty International and for the State Department makes him an ideal choice for a position designed to provide leadership in the area of equity on this campus."


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