Sonia Kang standing in front of a white concrete wall

Appointment of Special Advisor on Anti-Racism and Equity

Monday, June 28, 2021 - 3:03am
Alexandra Gillespie

To the UTM community,

I write to share some wonderful news: Dr. Sonia Kang, Canada Research Chair in Identity, Diversity and Inclusion and Associate Professor in the Department of Management, has accepted the position as UTM’s Special Advisor on Anti-Racism and Equity, effective July 1, 2021. Please join me in congratulating Professor Kang on her much-deserved role!

Created in summer 2020, the special advisory position aims to realize one of UTM’s priorities, powerfully encapsulated in the words of civil rights activist Angela Davis. “It is not enough,” Davis explains, “to be nonracist. We must be anti-racist.” Professor Kang will help put this imperative into action, providing key counsel on equity initiatives, enabling inclusive conversations across campus groups and identifying new opportunities for anti-racist progress. Her work will comprise a core of UTM’s long-term commitment to social justice, which actively opposes malicious discrimination in all its forms and seeks to extend an ongoing momentum of positive change.

An internationally recognized researcher, teacher and public commentator, Professor Kang has already made UTM a smarter, more inclusive place—and she continues to lead impactful discoveries that disrupt engrained structures of inequality. In more than twenty-five peer-reviewed articles and chapters, she has pioneered a novel approach to questions of identity, diversity and inclusion, illuminating a range of topics that transcend academic disciplines: from the implications of racial and gender self-presentation in cover letters to the role of inclusivity in STEM and medicine; from the effects of pro-diversity statements to the damage of stereotypes on individual wellbeing.

Concurrently, Professor Kang translates her academic expertise into actionable insights of societal benefit. Featured in media from the Atlantic to the Globe and Mail, from Forbes to the Harvard Business Review, her research also shapes her acclaimed podcast, For the Love of Work, most recently recognized in 2021 with a Report on Business Changemakers Award. Her published insights on “resume whitening,” which have won multiple academic prizes, also earned a top place on the Financial Times’ Global 100 list for “business school research with social impact.”

Her positive impact applies equally to student engagement and growth. Along with Dr. Elizabeth PageGould, Associate Professor in U of T’s Department of Psychology, Professor Kang developed the first-ever Canada Summer Research Opportunity Program, launched in 2021 with a cohort of 15 Black and Indigenous students. The program serves as a gateway to academia for Black, Indigenous and racialized undergraduates, aiming to increase equitable access to graduate school.

Informed by her deep experience and capacious expertise, Professor Kang will build on the strong foundation laid by Professor Rhonda McEwen, who has served as Special Advisor on Anti-Racism and Equity for the past ten months and who will begin a new position as Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean in July.

As Special Advisor, Professor McEwen made a tremendous impact, leading consultations for a new EDI action plan; developing new sources of seed funding for Black, Indigenous and racialized students and researchers; founding a new campus approach to online safety; forming meaningful connections in the Black Research Network; providing invariably informed advice to the campus’ leadership team—and so much more. I feel grateful to Professor McEwen for strengthening UTM’s culture of intentional inclusivity— thank you!—and excited to continue collaborating with her to expand this culture’s scope.

I feel similarly excited to work alongside Professor Kang, recognizing the urgency for ongoing improvement and action. I also look forward to encouraging contributions from people across campus. Professor Kang has singular expertise. But anti-racism remains our collective responsibility.