A UCLA professor of law and Asian American studies, who is an expert on bias and hate crimes, has been named as the Westwood campus' first vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion, officials announced Tuesday.
Professor Jerry Kang will be the senior UCLA official responsible for promoting equity and fairness in faculty matters and student life at a time when the university has been facing several controversies about the hiring of minority faculty, the relatively low number of African American students and some incidents that offended Jewish students.
The position was created partly in response to a 2013 campus study that found many minority professors felt that their complaints of bias were not properly investigated.
"Through years of scholarship and service to UCLA and the community, Professor Kang has shown that he possesses the authoritative voice, compassionate leadership and steadfast commitment required for effectiveness in this critical new position," UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement.
Kang will start his position July 1 and will be paid $354,900 annually, according to a UCLA spokesman.
Kang said in a campus online interview that he sees his job as not enforcing any "political orthodoxy" but that he wants "to leverage the smarts that we already have at UCLA among faculty and students to examine how to make this a more fundamentally fair place."
He said his goal is an environment where emotions about race, gender and religion "produce engagement and resilience, not bullying or isolation."
Born in South Korea, Kang earned a bachelor's and a law degree both at Harvard University and joined the UCLA School of Law faculty in 1995. He also is a professor of Asian American studies and holds a chair in Korean American Studies and Law.
Among his areas of research is the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.