Anna Branch (Sociology) Named Associate Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion

Anna BranchPhoto Credit: Matthew Medeiros / University of Massachusetts Amherst
Monday, August 28, 2017

--Via UMass News & Media Relations

Enobong (Anna) Branch, associate professor of sociology, has been appointed by Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy to the position of associate chancellor for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer.

“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. “The need for such leadership has never been greater given the national emergence of hatred and intolerance that we must all confront and reject. Our campus will undoubtedly face our own challenges in the coming academic year, and Professor Branch’s experience, knowledge and insight will bring new perspectives to our campus’s continuing effort to focus on these critical issues.”

Branch previously served as the chancellor’s faculty advisor for diversity and inclusive excellence, a position that is now eliminated. In her new role, Subbaswamy said Branch will provide strategic leadership for campus diversity efforts.She will build on institutional momentum and articulate a vision to promote an institutional culture at UMass Amherst that values and supports diversity and inclusion. Branch will work with campus leaders to develop diversity, inclusivity and equity goals and provide guidance on national best practices to accomplish them. She will serve as a member of the university’s senior leadership team and is responsible for nurturing a positive campus climate for students, staff and faculty.

“I am honored to lead our efforts to define and pursue aspirational goals for diversity and inclusion,” said Branch. “The campus community weighed in honestly in our 2016 Campus Climate Survey. There is much work to do to cultivate a campus community that is welcoming and inclusive for all. The many voices and perspectives reflected in the survey show our complexity and our promise. We can create a campus community where all can thrive if we live out our campus values to form and strengthen socially just learning and working environments that foster a culture of excellence through diverse people, ideas and perspectives. This is important work that we can achieve if we work together.”

In the summer of 2016, Branch was appointed the chancellor’s faculty advisor for diversity and inclusive excellence, where she oversaw the implementation of the campus’s Diversity Strategic Plan. She was responsible for executing the campus climate survey completed in Fall 2016, which took a census approach and achieved a 41 percent response rate (national average is 29 percent) representing more than 13,000 participants. She also helped oversee the visioning process for the Center for Racial Justice and Urban Affairs. In 2015, she served as the director of diversity advancement for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, where she promoted best practices for faculty searches to ensure a diverse pool of candidates and their equitable consideration during the hiring process. She also led the college’s efforts to build a diverse support network for faculty of color.

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.

In 2014, Branch founded the sociology department’s civility and equity committee, which she chaired through 2015. 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 UMass Amherst’s 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 Ph.D. in sociology at the State University of New York Albany and her B.S. 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 in 2016 by Lexington Press. Branch has published eight peer-reviewed articles and five book chapters.