UCSC selects Anju Reejhsinghani as Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Portrait of Anju Reejhsinghani

As VC DEI and Chief Diversity Officer, Reejhsinghani will partner with leadership campuswide to guide inclusivity efforts, working proactively to foster a more welcoming campus.

UC Santa Cruz has selected Anju Reejhsinghani as its first-ever Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Reejhsinghani has deep professional experience in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work, both in the college classroom as an educator and as a senior administrator. She comes to campus from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she served most recently as Assistant Vice Provost for Strategic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Administration. Previously she served as Executive Director at UW Madison’s Institute for Regional and International Studies. Before entering higher education leadership, she was a tenured associate professor in the Department of History and International Studies at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, a four-year regional comprehensive campus.

Reejhsinghani’s appointment caps a national recruitment and campuswide stakeholder-engagement process that began in February; she begins her work at UC Santa Cruz on Sept. 12.

“Anju Reejhsinghani is an experienced DEI leader who has worked with students, staff and faculty,” Chancellor Cynthia Larive said. “Understanding the nuanced perspectives of the many groups that make up our campus community is critical to successful DEI work. Her experience will help immensely as she partners with people around our campus to create a more welcoming and equitable institution. I’m thrilled that she’s joining our leadership team.”

Larive praised the work of the VC DEI search committee, chaired by Vice Provost of Academic Affairs Herbie Lee, for bringing forth a strong slate of candidates. She also thanked all in the campus community who shared their insights during the VC DEI recruitment and stakeholder-engagement process. “We are grateful for the community feedback that helped to inform this process."

As VC DEI and Chief Diversity Officer, Reejhsinghani will partner with leadership campuswide to guide inclusivity efforts, working proactively to foster a more welcoming campus. The position will report directly to the chancellor and oversee the campus Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Reejhsinghani’s recent work at UW Madison touched nearly every corner of that campus. She reported directly to the university’s chief diversity officer and oversaw units in employee disability resources, affirmative action planning and programming, affinity group-based learning communities, and climate assessment, planning, and research. She was a key campus partner in the launch of new initiatives in DEI education and professional development for faculty and staff. She also co-chaired UW Madison’s Campus Climate Survey Task Force, which reviewed findings and developed recommendations for campus leadership from over 13,000 student survey responses; planned and directed an annual two-day hybrid Diversity Forum; and co-chaired campuswide award-selection committees recognizing research, teaching, community service, and advocacy on behalf of UW Madison’s communities of color and LGBTQ+ populations.

Reejhsinghani describes herself as an approachable, accessible leader who seeks to “lead by listening and being present. I let people know that I’m willing to reach them where they are.”

She said she initiates partnerships from a spirit of collaboration and an emphasis on shared values. “We all believe in access. We believe in supporting our communities. We believe in creating pathways to social advancement. With these as our goals, what DEI work really comes down to is thinking about what’s needed to get people there, then doing it.”

While some positions may seem to lend themselves more naturally to the work, she said, we all have something to contribute to that discussion. “I don’t want the conversation about DEI to be only about what can’t be done, but about what can be done.”

A historian specializing in the Asian and African diasporas, Latin America, and Latinx studies, Reejhsinghani was drawn to UCSC for a number of reasons, she said, including the campus’ long history of student involvement in social movements and its many trailblazing academic programs. Having begun her teaching career as a lecturer in Asian American Studies, she specifically noted the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies program, which last year earned departmental status.

“I’m impressed that UCSC has centered DEI in the academic enterprise,” she noted. “That can serve as a model for other R1 campuses nationwide.”

In joining UCSC, Reejhsinghani is excited to continue her professional trajectory at a public institution that shares the same commitment to broadening opportunity, expanding access, and building inclusive excellence that she found in the University of Wisconsin system, especially during her years as a faculty member working primarily with first-generation college students. “The Wisconsin idea, at its core, is about expanding the reach of public education to all. That same mission and energy is clearly evident at UCSC and in the wider UC system. It is an honor to accept this inaugural role and to help shape the agenda for how we can become a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable campus.”

Reejhsinghani holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree, both in history, from the University of Texas at Austin. She earned a diploma in economics from the London School of Economics & Political Science, and has a bachelor of arts in history from Princeton University, graduating summa cum laude.

Judith Estrada, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, has served as interim Chief Diversity Officer since last summer. With Reejhsinghani’s appointment, Estrada will continue as the office’s assistant vice chancellor.