The university today launched the UC Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, backed by a $16 million grant from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. The initiative includes research projects, five faculty research chairs, student scholarships, campus programs and “several dozen” new courses in American Cultures.

“We are in one of the most diverse states in the nation from every aspect — socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, religion, abilities and disabilities, sexual orientation. Our campus reflects that diversity, making it the perfect place to examine these issues,” said Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau. “This generous gift will allow us to remain a beacon of access and excellence for students of all backgrounds and to become a national model in this growing area of research that is of such importance to society.”

According to Gibor Basri, the vice chancellor for equity and diversity and professor of astronomy, the initiative is the most ambitious yet at a public university.

Among the five faculty chairs in diversity-related research will be one on disability and one focusing on equity rights for the LGBT community.

Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...