Leon A. Henkin Citation for Distinguished Service

The Leon A. Henkin Citation for Distinguished Service is awarded by the Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Campus Climate (DECC) of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate.  It is given in recognition of an “exceptional commitment to the educational development of students from groups who are underrepresented in the academy.”

Leon A. Henkin was an Emeritus Professor of Mathematics who was a founder of the Committee on Special Scholarships in 1963, a Committee of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate whose goal was to enable students from underrepresented groups to attend and excel at the University of California, Berkeley.  Professor Henkin remained a member of this same but renamed Committee on Student Diversity and Academic Development until his death. (SDAD merged with the Status of Women and Ethnic Minorities to form the DECC in 2014).   Professor Henkin worked tirelessly throughout his career to increase equity and access to higher education, and to promote the academic, personal and professional success of Berkeley students from groups traditionally underrepresented in the academy.  He was the first recipient of this Citation from the Academic Senate, and the Citation bears his name as testimony to his distinguished service. 

The nominee for the Leon A. Henkin Citation shall be:

Any current or retired faculty member—or pairs/teams of faculty—Senate or non-Senate whose careers have been marked by a sustained effort to increase the academic success of students from groups traditionally underrepresented in academic disciplines.  DECC members are ineligible while serving on the committee.

Julia Bryan-Wilson
Professor, History of Art

The Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Campus Climate selected Julia Bryan-Wilson, Doris and Clarence Malo Professor in the History of Art Department, to receive the 2022 Leon A. Henkin Citation for her distinguished and transformative service in advancing educational access, inclusion, and belonging for students of color and LGBTQIA+ students.

In his nomination letter, the History of Art Department Chair Greg Levine describes in detail the transformative work of Professor Bryan-Wilson in creating a more inclusive and diverse environment in not only the department, division, and campus but also the field of art history, more broadly. He writes: “At [the] fundamental level of teaching and mentorship, we see Bryan-Wilson’s consistent and indeed courageous work of removing barriers and creating opportunities…[Her] teaching at all levels amplifies inclusive learning and research through attention to diverse fields, voices and histories, and theories and practices; highlights the work of queer-identifying scholars and artists and scholars and artists of color… and demonstrates through her own scholarship, curation, and community collaborations the vital role of the arts in social justice, decolonization, and anti-oppression.”

Her former and current students echo this sentiment and elaborate on the specific ways that Professor Bryan-Wilson has served as an exemplary mentor. One former student, who is now an ACLS postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University, expresses her deep appreciation of how Professor Bryan-Wilson models not just the possibility but the importance of pursuing research that speaks to one’s values. She writes about the profound importance of Bryan-Wilson’s continuous and active support in her study of Chicano art. Several current graduate students underscore the immense value of Bryan-Wilson’s holistic approach to mentoring, which goes beyond academic development and network building to include work-life balance advice and resource sharing. One student describes how Bryan-Wilson “always supports [her] well-being first and foremost” and how, “as an astute reader and tireless advocate, [Bryan-Wilson] has provided consistent care and attention to the material conditions of life–housing, finances, family–which has truly allowed [this student] to do better work, collaborate more broadly, take intellectual risks, and experience a sense of work/life balance that is rare in the academy.”

Professor Bryan-Wilson’s role as Director of Arts Research Center (2017-2020) is also noteworthy in dramatically increasing undergraduate and graduate student involvement in the arts. According to Department Chair Levine, her work of “[organizing] a breathtaking diversity of arts-engaged programs and [elevating] voices of Black, Latinx, queer/trans, Native, and immigrant writers, artists, and curators has not simply transformed campus conversations and knowledge but has also demonstrated to students the possibilities of diversity, inclusion, and justice in arts practice and research.” Finally, summarizing the broad impact of Professor Bryan-Wilson’s work, current ARC Associate Director Laurie Macfee writes, “Byran-Wilson’s exceptional and unwavering commitment to pedagogy, service, discourse, scholarship, and programming designed specifically to advance student well-being and equity, elevate lives and communities, and make visible the political struggle of underrepresented voices has made an indelible mark on students, faculty, and the university as a whole.”

The Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Campus Climate is honored to present the 2022 Leon A. Henkin Citation for Distinguished Service to Professor Julia Bryan-Wilson.