April 20, 2014

New Diversity Director to Start at Haas Jan. 30

The Haas School has hired Eric Abrams, a former Stanford assistant dean who led undergraduate diversity outreach, as its first diversity director to implement programs and initiatives to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion at Berkeley-Haas.

Abrams, who was born in Berkeley, has gained a national reputation as a gifted administrator and outstanding public speaker who has consistently placed the needs of students first and foremost. He starts in his new role at Berkeley-Haas on Jan. 30 and will report to Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Chizuk.

The diversity director position was created as part of the Haas School's Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Plan, developed last year. The plan's goals include increasing diversity among faculty, students, and staff; expanding the pipeline of diverse student applicants; and raising alumni engagement in equity, inclusion, and diversity efforts. Abrams will oversee execution of the school's diversity strategy, focusing on the entire student lifecycle, from recruiting to alumni. He also will work with faculty equity advisers and the Human Resources Department to drive faculty and staff initiatives.

"The creation of this position underscores the priority we put on increasing diversity and inclusion here at Berkeley-Haas. Diversity – and the varied experiences and viewpoints that come with it – drives richer, more innovative thinking. It’s an important ingredient for advancing our mission of developing leaders who redefine how we do business," says Dean Rich Lyons. "We are looking forward to Eric’s contribution to an even more vibrant community."

Most recently, Abrams served as assistant dean for diversity outreach in Stanford’s Office of Undergraduate Admission. In this role, he supervised a team of professionals charged with enhancing the diversity of the Stanford undergraduate population. More than 55 percent of the undergraduates matriculating at Stanford in the last three years are students of color, and the last three entering classes have included upwards of 15 percent who describe themselves as first-generation college students.

In two stints in the Stanford MBA Admission Office, Abrams led efforts that helped Stanford become the most ethnically diverse of the nation’s most selective MBA programs.

Before working at Stanford, Abrams spent seven years working at Berkeley Law, where his last position was assistant director of admissions. Abrams was part of a team that saw enrollment of students from traditionally underrepresented groups increase by more than 600 percent during his time there. His responsibilities included developing innovative outreach strategies and recruitment programs.

"I am really looking forward to joining the Haas community," Abrams says. "Everything I've known about the school has shown me it's at the forefront of teaching students how to do well and how to do good."

Abrams earned his undergraduate degree at Stanford, where he majored in political science and drama and served on the student senate while also acting in and directing student theatrical productions. As a graduate student at UCLA, Abrams studied political science and was elected secretary of the Black Graduate Student Association. Abrams met his wife, Donna, when she was a third-year student in the Berkeley MBA-MPH Program, and they now have two teenage sons. 

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