Nicquet Blake, PhD, one of the nation’s leading academic voices on equity and diversity issues, joins UC San Francisco as vice-president of student academic affairs and dean of the graduate studies division.
Blake most recently served as Senior Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UT Health San Antonio, where she was the Director of Student Affairs and oversaw the admissions process for the 20 doctoral school programs.
A neuroscientist by training, Blake has dedicated his career, in his own words, to “implementing transformational change to diversify the academy.” In 14 years at UT Health San Antonio, which is part of the University of Texas system, she has developed systems that allow underrepresented students to be invested and valued in the community, reversing a legacy that has seen 40% attrition rates of under-represented students after only their first year. .
UCSF Executive Vice Chancellor and Rector Dan Lowenstein, MD, said national research had identified Blake as “uniquely qualified” for the dual role of dean and vice-provost.
âWe were very impressed with her creative thinking on new approaches to graduate student education, and also how strongly she championed graduate students from a variety of backgrounds,â said Lowenstein. “She has put in place programs at UT Health San Antonio that have had a major impact on the support and outcomes of the students who were recruited.”
Blake also racked up a record of success developing a wide range of functions for student affairs at UT Health San Antonio which, along with her accomplishments in graduate studies, made her an undisputed leader in finding someone. ‘one to lead the two domains.
Fierce advocate of students
Leading the student academic affairs and graduate studies division, Blake sees the opportunity to continue his work ensuring that decisions are made in the best interests of the students.
âI am first and foremost a fierce shameless student activist who strives to teach students to be their best self-advocates,â she said.
Blake remembers her own years as a college student well, which brought her to litigation.
Originally from Jamaica, Blake married his childhood neighbor, a military man who immigrated to Texas and served in the US Air Force. Her teaching career evolved as she progressed through her studies, earning first a bachelor’s and master’s degree in biology at UT San Antonio, then a doctorate in neuroscience at Washington University in St. Louis.
At “Wash U”, Blake joined the postdoc steering committee and advocated for the standardization of postdoc salaries. She enjoyed political work and a new career was born. While in administrative positions, she continued to keep students from under-represented groups in mind.
At UT Health San Antonio, Blake established and expanded mentoring programs that helped recruit students from under-represented minority groups into the facility, whose student body did not reflect the city’s dominant Hispanic population. But it wasn’t enough for them to survive, she said: she wanted them to prosper.
Within a few years, underrepresented students were thriving, winning some of the university’s top overall awards. Blake also swelled with pride as he shared how the students served the community and looked after each other, especially during the “snow pocalypse” that hit Texas last winter.
Blake said she, like so many others, has had to fight racism throughout her career.
âI have encountered many instances of racism during my journey,â said Blake. When asked to share an example, she replied, âOnce, while I was in the bathroom, a woman came in and said, ‘Hey, do you have any toilet paper? I thought, “What would make her think that I, among everyone else, would be the one to ask for toilet paper?” I said, ‘Let me check this for you.’ I walked through the door and never came back.
Blake chuckled at the memory. âI like a little humor in life,â she said.
With UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS declaring diversity, equity and inclusion as one of his top priorities, including work to end health care disparities, Blake and his highly effective team will play a vital role in his continued success.
âI am very excited to have Nicquet Blake join our campus,â said Renee Navarro, MD, PharmD, Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Outreach. “She is an established national leader in equity and diversity, and I really look forward to partnering with her in uplifting the work we do at UCSF.”
A story of impact for under-represented youth
In addition to her medical science work, Blake is the mother of two sons, aged 22 and 19, both of whom are accomplished soccer players. A passionate advocate for the community, Blake and her husband created a youth football team in San Antonio where most of the players came from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, giving them access to training they might not have. received otherwise.
Instead of payments, they demanded that the students come to practice and get good grades. In three years, their team won an unlikely state championship.
âFootball is a great sport,â said Blake. âWe were able to take a bunch of regular kids that competitive teams largely ignored, get them to work as a team, get them to really care about academics and at the same time win a state championship. How cool is that? “
Best of all, she recently met one of the alumni of the team, who initially didn’t care about school at all. He graduated from high school with honors and will be attending university this fall.
âNone of this would have happened without this meeting with this specific group of boys,â she said. “There is no greater joy than seeing lives transformed by the beautiful game of football.”
Serving UCSF graduate students and academics
When Elizabeth Watkins, PhD, left UCSF after 17 years to become provost and executive vice-chancellor of UC Riverside, her roles in the graduate studies division and in student academic affairs were split on an interim basis between the next level of management to oversee joint operations. . Elizabeth Silva, PhD, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, became Acting Dean of the Division of Graduate Studies, and Bill Lindstaedt, MS, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Professional Advancement, International and Postdoctoral Services, a was Acting Vice-Chancellor of Student Academic Affairs.
âLiz Silva and I are delighted to welcome Dr. Blake to the Graduate Studies and Student Academic Affairs division,â said Lindstaedt. “We look forward to supporting her success as she takes the helm in this influential dual role.”
Blake will join Chancellor Hawgood’s cabinet, which is made up of the deans of the four professional schools – dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy – as well as the CEO of UCSF Health, vice-chancellors and other leaders of the university.
The Graduate Studies Division offers top-notch programs in basic and biomedical, social and population sciences, as well as two professional doctorates. The research of UCSF graduate students will ultimately help ensure human health, shape health systems, influence public education on disease prevention, and advance health equity and l ‘Health care access. The division also exercises institutional oversight of postdoctoral researchers.
Student Academic Affairs offers a wide range of services that meet the needs of learners, from physical and mental health to financial aid and the student food market, and student involvement in career development. These programs serve all UCSF students and scholars, including postdoctoral fellows, and serve as an institutional focal point for groups of learners such as first generation and international students, as well as veterans and people with disabilities. . SAA’s educational technology services have proven particularly vital in the COVID-19 pandemic as learning moves online.