Onyx: Black Faculty and Staff Association Officially formed

April 14, 2022

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After a year of coordinated efforts on behalf of its members, Onyx, UCSC’s Black Faculty and Staff affinity group, became UCSC’s first official ethnic affinity association on March 22, 2022 through the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Black faculty and staff are integral members of the UCSC community. Onyx’s mission is to cultivate a thriving community space advocating for all University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) Pan African staff and faculty members to succeed professionally, support and uplift one another, and promote Black excellence.

While Onyx only recently became an officially recognized campus association, it has a long history of being a space to support the development, retention, and well-being of Black faculty and staff through happy hours, potlucks, and targeted participation in campus programs like the ABC Admitted Student Reception, Black Academy, Black Excellence Celebration, Black Love Gala, and the Black Graduation Celebration. Building off of informal gatherings in the past by Adrienne Harrell and Madlyn Norman-Terrance, the idea of convening folks again started in 2016. That November, with funding from the Chancellor’s office, Dr. Aaron Jones planned the first such event in the Alumni Room in College Nine and John R. Lewis College and then AARCC Director, Shonté Thomas, gave Onyx its name and provided giveaways for attendees. From there, Onyx became a monthly space to connect new staff members with supportive community members. 

Onyx would like to take a few moments to recognize all of the Black faculty and staff that have gotten them to this monumental moment. Without their persistence and dedication to the health and well-being of all Black faculty and staff on campus, this would not have been possible. Special thanks go to Shonté Thomas, Dr. Aaron Jones, Shauntay Larkins, Adrienne Harrell, and Madlyn Norman-Terrance.

In addition to monthly meetings, Onyx has initiatives planned throughout the year to create and maintain cohesiveness around recruitment, retention, advocacy, intellectual growth, political awareness and social enhancement of, and on behalf of all Black faculty and staff. Incoming Chair of Onyx, Lenora Willis, said that she wants Onyx to continue to be a place of social enjoyment and Black celebration in spite of anti-blackness sentiments experienced by Black faculty and staff everywhere. 

To stay connected with Onyx, feel free to check out their website to sign up for membership. For faculty and staff looking to get involved with other affinity groups, please contact Assistant Vice Chancellor Dr. Estrada at odei@ucsc.edu.