2020 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.

Brandi Catanese
Associate Professor, African American Studies and Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies

The Committee on Diversity, Equity and Campus Climate has chosen Professor Brandi Catanese as the recipient of the 2020 Henkin award because of her service contributions to diversity and equity.

Professor Catanese has seemingly been a member or the chair of every campus taskforce and committee that deals with diversity, including co-chairing the Academic Senate committee on Student Diversity and Academic Development. She has also had prominent leadership positions in her two academic departments on campus and in professional service to these fields.

The most moving part of Professor Catanese’s nominations was the many letters written by former mentees who are now academics across many institutions. These letters attest to her dedication to her students, citing many examples where Professor Catanese went well beyond normal advising duties. They also speak to her impressive intellect, and how such clarity of thought can inspire others. Much of Professor Catanese’s research also focuses on issues of cultural pluralism and diversity, so her research life seamlessly works with her service contributions to promote diversity efforts on campus.

We thank Professor Catanese for her strong commitment to promoting diversity. This is especially impressive given her relatively young age. The campus looks forward to benefitting from her future contributions! The Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Campus Climate is very pleased to recognize Professor Catanese.