New faces at the UCLA International Institute
Facade of Bunche Hall. (Photo: Kaya Mentsoglu/ UCLA.)

New faces at the UCLA International Institute

New center directors, teaching faculty and executive staff are joining the UCLA International Institute.

UCLA International Institute, August 13, 2019 — The Institute is pleased to share a number of leadership changes at its centers, the hiring of two new faculty members and recent executive staff changes. Most of these new faces assumed their posts this summer, but two will arrive at UCLA in 2020.

At the Center for Chinese Studies (CCS), longstanding Director Yunxiang Yan, UCLA professor of anthropology, stepped down in June. Professor Yan led the center for 14 years, first as co-director with Professor (now Humanities Dean) David Schaberg for six years, then as director for eight. The Institute thanks him for his unstinting and gracious service and many contributions to both CCS and the Institute as whole.

We welcome Michael Berry, professor of Chinese cultural studies in the department of Asian languages and cultures, as the new director of the Center for Chinese Studies. Berry is a literary and film scholar as well as a translator of modern Chinese fiction. Transnational in approach, Berry’s work addresses the richness and diversity of Chinese art and culture as it has manifested itself in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and other Sinophone communities.

Laure Murat, professor of French & Francophone studies, has stepped down as director of the Center for European and Russian Studies (CERS) after four years. The Institute is grateful to Professor Murat for her creative and dedicated leadership of the center, including programming for the impressive February 2019 conference, “Racism and White Supremacy in Europe.”

Professor Laurie Kain Hart, who has a joint appointment in the anthropology department and the International Institute, was appointed the new CERS director in July. Hart — whose research focuses on violence, civil war, displacement and migration (among other topics) — teaches for the Global Studies Program of the UCLA International Institute and is affiliated with the Center for Social Medicine and the Humanities at the Semel Institute. We welcome Laurie in this new capacity and look forward to working closely with her.

And the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies will be welcoming a new director, Dov Waxman, who will join UCLA in January 2020 as the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation Endowed Chair in Israel Studies and a full professor in the Division of Social Sciences and the International Institute. Waxman is currently a professor of political science, international affairs and Israel studies and Stotsky Professor of Jewish Historical and Cultural Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.

The Institute welcomes Professor Waxman and extends its sincere gratitude to Yoram Cohen, distinguished professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering, for his keen and inspiring leadership of the Y&S Nazarian Center over the past four-and-a-half years. In addition, we are grateful for his continued leadership of the center as interim director through the end of this calendar year.


In other faculty news, Verónica Cortínez — professor of Spanish and Portuguese and director of the Center for Southern Cone Studies — has stepped down from the position of Equity Advisor at the UCLA International Institute. We thank her for her dedicated service over the past year and are pleased to announce that Robin Derby, associate professor of history, director of the Program on Caribbean Studies and faculty directory of the International Education Office, has been appointed to the Equity Advisor position. The Institute looks forward to working with her in this additional capacity in the coming years.

New faculty hire

The Institute is delighted to announce the hiring of new faculty member Alden Young. A political and economic historian of Africa with deep research interests in African economic development and Sudan, Young is assistant professor of history and director of an interdisciplinary minor in Africana studies at Drexel University in Philadelphia. He will have a joint appointment in the International Institute, where he will teach in the African studies and international development studies programs starting in the 2020–21 academic year, and in the department of African American studies.

A native of New Orleans, Young completed a B.A. at Columbia University, an M.A. at the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Ph.D. at Princeton University. Read an engaging interview with Young on the Drexel University website.

Executive leadership and staff changes

The Institute is sad to announce that Gail Kligman, distinguished professor of sociology, has stepped down from her position as associate vice provost of the International Institute after four years. Unfortunately, budgetary constraints have caused the position to be eliminated. The Institute counts itself unfortunate to have lost such a valuable leader and colleague — Gail will be greatly missed.

Professor Kligman has given unflagging service to the Institute for almost two decades. She served two terms as director of the Center for European and Russian Studies, chaired the CERS Advisory Committee for five years, was a longstanding member of the Institute’s Faculty Executive Committee and has been an active participant in the Center for the Study of International Migration.

In addition to her instrumental leadership of CERS, Gail has been a consistent and valuable advocate for the Institute, whether championing Title VI in Washington, D.C., helping write the Institute’s case statement for the UCLA Centennial Campaign or spearheading the Institute’s celebration of International Women’s Day — to mention only a few of her many contributions. We cannot thank Gail enough for the important role she has played in building the Institute and deeply thank her for her dedicated service and look forward to her continued engagement with the Institute and its centers and programs.

In another major change, Germán Esparza has retired as assistant vice provost after 29 years with the Institute. From overseeing UCLA’s international agreements to assisting vice provosts to hosting international delegations, Germán fulfilled innumerable responsibilities at the Institute with humor and quiet diplomacy. Along the way, he took two years off to earn a master’s degree in social work, then spent the next two decades doing volunteer work and building another professional career as a clinical social worker. We thank Germán for his many contributions to the Institute and its units and wish him a wonderful early retirement.

Kathryn Paul formally assumed Germán’s international collaboration responsibilities at the Institute in July 2019. Appointed Director of International Collaboration in September 2018, Kathryn worked alongside Germán over a nine-month period while continuing to serve as executive director for the Center for World Languages and the National Heritage Language Resource Center and director of the UCLA Russian Flagship Program. Kathryn is well known to the Institute for her outstanding work in those roles and for her significant contributions to an array of Institute projects, including Title VI, a major Mellon Foundation grant and other funding projects. We are delighted to welcome her to her new role among the Institute’s executive staff and consider ourselves very lucky to have her on board.

Other Institute news

In other Institute news, two of our centers recently received significant grants. We congratulate the Asia Pacific Center on its receipt of a $1 million grant from the J. Yang and Family Foundation for its Taiwan Studies Program. The funds will provide scholarships and support for research and curriculum development. The grant is the second major gift to the program from the J. Yang and Family Foundation, which donated $1 million to two separate endowments in November 2018.

The Institute also warmly congratulates the Center for Near Eastern Studies on a $350,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The two-year grant will support a pilot project to reframe how Middle Eastern studies are taught. The funds will support workshops, faculty-graduate student research groups and a major conference to inform the development of new curricula and teaching models on the Middle East and North Africa region that can be shared with other universities, community colleges, high schools and the general public.

All photos UCLA save for those of Alden Young (Jared Castaldi/ Drexel University) and Dov Waxman (Northeastern University).