The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Anna Branch Named Faculty Advisor to the Chancellor for Diversity and Excellence

Enobong (Anna) Branch, associate professor of sociology, has been named by Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy to serve as his faculty advisor for diversity and excellence, effective August 15.

“Through her academic research on race and gender, as well as her professional activities on and off campus, Professor Branch has demonstrated a profound commitment to issues of inclusion and equity,” said Subbaswamy. “Her experience, knowledge and insight will bring new perspectives to our campus’s continuing effort to focus on these critical issues.”

In her new role, Branch will serve on the Campus Leadership Council and be the chancellor’s representative to all campus groups, committees and councils involved in advancing diversity. She will be responsible for working with various groups such as the Faculty Senate Status of Diversity Council and the Chancellor’s Diversity Advisory Committee, as well as members of the senior administration, staff, faculty and students, to develop and implement appropriate academic initiatives to advance the campus’s diversity goals.

Branch will also oversee the implementation of the campus’s Diversity Strategic Plan, assess outcomes of the implementation, and make recommendations to the chancellor for future action. Her appointment is half-time for a two-year term, said Subbaswamy.

“This is an exciting opportunity to help shape how we move forward to achieve and sustain inclusive excellence at UMass,” said Branch. “In its simplest form the goal of inclusive excellence is to create a campus climate where all students, faculty and staff can thrive, where the race/ethnicity/nationality, gender, sexuality, class, religion and/or ability composition of your peers does not dictate your belonging or your chances of success. As a member of this campus community for the last nine years, I am well acquainted with our challenges, but there is reason for optimism. We can build a more inclusive UMass if we work together.”

Branch joined the sociology department in 2007 as a postdoctoral fellow and was appointed an assistant professor in 2008. She was promoted to associate professor in 2013. She is also a faculty associate in the department of women, gender, sexuality studies. Her research focuses on race and gender, work and occupations, and diversity in science. Her current work, funded by the National Science Foundation, investigates rising employment insecurity in the post-industrial era through the lens of racial and gender inequality.

Last summer, Branch was appointed director of diversity advancement for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, where she promotes best practices for faculty searches to ensure a diverse pool of candidates and their equitable consideration during the hiring process. She has also led the college’s efforts to build a diverse support network for faculty of color, including the creation of a resource guide.

In 2014, Branch founded the sociology department’s civility and equity committee, which she chaired through 2015. Through this committee, a survey of faculty and graduate students was conducted to identify issues and concerns faced in the department, on campus and in the Pioneer Valley community. A subsequent report produced 11 recommendations and was the subject of an all-department discussion of concerns raised and how best to respond to them.

Branch also co-chaired the Social Science Advisory Board of the National Center for Women in Information Technology from 2013-15, and in 2011 was the team leader for “Supporting Faculty of Color through Tenure and Beyond,” a Mellon Mutual Mentoring Inter-Institutional Grant with Mount Holyoke College supported by the Center for Teaching and Faculty Development. The initiative sought to provide junior faculty of color with the resources they need to build successful careers and thrive at their respective schools. The program later expanded to include the other Five College members.

From 2002-04, she was an administrator and teacher at a high school in the Bronx.

Branch earned her PhD in sociology at the State University of New York-Albany and her BS in biology at Howard University.

She is the author of “Opportunity Denied: Limiting Black Women to Devalued Work,” published in 2011 by Rutgers University Press. She is also the editor of “Pathways, Potholes, and the Persistence of Women in Science: Reconsidering the Pipeline,” published this year by Lexington Press. Branch has published eight peer-reviewed articles and five book chapters.