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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

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J. Luke Wood, Dean’s Distinguished Professor of Education at SDSU, photographed on campus. (SDSU) J. Luke Wood, Dean’s Distinguished Professor of Education at SDSU, photographed on campus. (SDSU)

Chief Diversity Officer Appointed to California Racial Equity Commission

J. Luke Wood will work to promote racial equity and address structural racism across the state.
By SDSU News Team

J. Luke Wood, Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity and Chief Diversity Officer at San Diego State University, was appointed to serve on the California Racial Equity Commission, the state's Senate Rules Committee announced Thursday.


The committee, chaired by Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), said Wood and Candis Bowles, a Southern California attorney, will serve two-year terms.


“Candis Bowles and Luke Wood are leaders in promoting racial equity and addressing structural racism in their respective fields, their guidance will enrich the Racial Equity Commission’s charter to provide racial equity guidance to state agencies,” Atkins said. “Dr. Wood has devoted his career to researching and implementing policies to advance diversification and equity initiatives at schools, colleges, and universities.”


“Together, they will play critical roles in developing a Racial Equity Framework to address the structural and systemic racism still present in our state.”


The commission, established in 2022 under Gov. Gavin Newsom and developed with Sen. Richard Pan, is tasked with producing a Racial Equity Framework consisting of resources to promote racial equity and address structural racism.


Wood and other commission members will recommend tools, methodologies and opportunities to advance racial equity, and assist state agencies in reviewing programs and updating policies and practices.


Wood joined SDSU in 2011 as co-director of the Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL), a national research and practice center partnering with community colleges to support their capacity in advancing outcomes for underserved students of color.


In 2020, Wood was named VP of Student Affairs & Campus Diversity, a division that was formed that same year. As VP, he led the creation of several new cultural centers, including the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Resource Center (APIDA), the Latinx Resource Center, the Native Resource Center, and the Undocumented Resource Center.


Wood worked alongside a team of SDSU education researchers whose findings on inequitable disciplinary practices against Black students inspired a new California law protecting foster youth in suspension and expulsion proceedings. AB 740 was signed into law by Newsom in September 2022.  


In January, Wood, along with SDSU professor Frank Harris III, was named to the 2023 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings: 200 U.S. university-based scholars who shape educational practice and policy. The list represents the top 1% of influential education scholars in the nation from a field of over 20,000.


An accomplished scholar and prolific author, Wood has more than 150 publications ranging from over a dozen books to numerous peer-reviewed journal articles. Most recently, he launched a popular webinar series with Harris on what they have termed racelighting, a phenomenon in which people of color are systematically manipulated into second-guessing their own lived experiences with racism.


Earlier this month, Wood announced that after five years of service in SDSU's administration, he will be rejoining the university's faculty full time. Wood will continue in his role while the university conducts a national search for its next permanent vice president, set to launch in March.


Wood earned a Bachelor of Arts in Black History and Politics and also a master's degree in higher education from the California State University, Sacramento, later earning a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and also a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from Arizona State University.


Prior to SDSU, Wood directed the Joint Ph.D. program in Education between SDSU and Claremont Graduate University, and served as director of the Ed.D. Program in Community College Leadership.