All of UC Joins UC Davis in AAAS SEA Change for Faculty Diversity

Man holds maize in environmental portrait
UC Davis postdoc Edwin Solares of the Department of Evolution and Ecology, where he researches crop population genomics, is part of a prestigious fellowship program aimed at cultivating scientists and scholars from underrepresented backgrounds for careers in the professoriate. (Robert Durell/UC Office of the President)

Quick Summary

  • UC Davis earned SEA Change bronze award certification in 2019
  • The campus enlisted as one of three charter members the next year
  • President Drake: SEA Change bolsters efforts for a diverse professoriate

Two years after UC Davis became one of three charter members of the STEMM Equity Achievement (SEA) Change program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the University of California today (May 24) signed up to SEA Change as a system, the first institution to do so.

SEA Change aims to eliminate systemic barriers to STEMM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) and foster engagement from communities underrepresented in, and historically excluded from, these fields.


Underrepresented communities identified by SEA Change include BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and disabled professionals, as well as individuals from disadvantaged socioeconomic and first-generation educational backgrounds. AAAS’ programming will further strengthen and accelerate UC’s efforts to recruit, train and retain a culturally competent and diverse faculty, while also enhancing campus efforts to attract promising students to postgraduate opportunities, growing a more diverse STEMM workforce in the process.

UC Davis earned SEA Change’s bronze award certification in 2019 and joined the program as a charter member in 2020. UC Irvine and UC Santa Cruz also joined prior to today’s announcement that the entire system is now participating.

Building a diverse professoriate

“Excellence, diversity, equity and inclusion are all enduring values and unwavering priorities for the University of California,” UC President Michael V. Drake said in a news release from the Office of the President.

Michael V. Drake headshot
Michael V. Drake

“SEA Change will strengthen our work to train, recruit and retain a diverse professoriate, which will ensure that UC continues to be a leader in high-caliber medical expertise, cutting-edge research and exceptional education while reflecting California’s rich diversity,” he said.

Institutions participating in SEA Change embark on an exploration of their internal priorities and processes with a goal of formulating intentional, measurable change. UC has determined that a systemwide approach to SEA Change will better align campus efforts while adding value to work already undertaken.

A campus begins its pursuit of a SEA Change award by conducting a self-assessment and using those findings to establish a five-year action plan with clear goals and metrics. The campus plan is shared with external reviewers who evaluate the award application and can recommend an initial rating of bronze — as with UC Davis.

SEA Change requires that institutions renew their awards every five years to demonstrate progress and assess whether campuses stay at the bronze level or move up to silver and eventually gold.

‘Faculty of the future’

“The University of California is educating the faculty of the future,” UC Merced Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz said. “We are national leaders in inclusive excellence, as seen by the great diversity of our student body and by our recognized STEM-intensive programs that are enhancing the diversity of the science and engineering fields at the doctoral level. But we can and must do more.”

Over the next three fiscal years, a UC-wide cohort will be guided through the SEA Change Awards process. The immersive cohort will receive training and resource materials to develop new strategies to reduce or eliminate barriers to access and to undertake new research on faculty diversity and inclusive excellence. Each campus will be represented in the cohort by at least one person who will be recruited through a selection process developed by the campuses.

“We are honored to join in this unique SEA Change partnership with the University of California system,” said Shirley Malcom, senior advisor to the CEO and director of SEA Change at AAAS. “The system has done its diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility work within policy constraints for decades, and the law-attentive structure of SEA Change accommodates and supports that.

“We applaud the many worthy efforts already underway at UC campuses. This new partnership allows them to build on and coalesce around this important work under the SEA Change umbrella. SEA Change looks forward to supporting each individual campus as they ‘go for the gold’ SEA Change recognition.”

Going beyond STEMM

Under the program, the action plans developed by campuses can also be adapted as best practices for non-STEMM disciplines.

This effort builds on successful UC initiatives to improve faculty and graduate student diversity, including the Advancing Faculty Diversity Initiative, which focuses on equitable faculty recruitment and hiring practices; the President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, which offers postdoctoral research fellowships to outstanding scholars in all fields whose research, teaching and service will contribute to diversity and equal opportunity at UC; and partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic-Serving Institutions to diversify the graduate student population through summer research and academic mentoring.

A $15 million grant to the university by the Mellon Foundation complements SEA Change with crucial support to diversify humanities and humanities-inflected social science faculty.

“One of the university’s most important priorities is expanding access to an affordable, high-quality UC education,” said Yvette Gullatt, UC vice president for Graduate and Undergraduate Affairs and vice provost for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. “The only way we can make that goal a reality is by making intentional efforts to mentor and recruit an excellent and diverse faculty. As a system, we will continue to enhance and accelerate our efforts to build a professoriate that truly represents all identities and perspectives, especially in STEMM fields that have historically marginalized diverse professionals.”

More information on UC’s efforts to support and strengthen equity and diversity within its faculty.

More about SEA Change

The mission of AAAS STEMM Equity Achievement (SEA) Change is to inspire, guide and support voluntary transformation of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine fields in colleges and universities so the community-building, work, products and practitioners exemplify excellence, equity, diversity and inclusion.

Online resources: What is SEA Change? Questions and Answers.

Media Resources

Dateline Staff: Dave Jones, editor, 530-752-6556,; Cody Kitaura, News and Media Relations specialist, 530-752-1932,

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