Claudia I. Mitchell-Kernan


Distinguished Alumni Service Award (1997)
B.A., 1963; M.A., 1965


Claudia Mitchell-Kernan has garnered an impressive list of "firsts" during her career as an anthropologist, sociolinguist, and university administrator. In many cases she is the first and only African-American woman to have achieved certain distinctions. She is the vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean of the graduate division of the University of 3California at Los Angeles—a first. Her prior appointment at UCLA was vice chancellor for graduate programs and director of the Center for African-American Studies—also a first.

In addition she serves as a full professor in the departments of anthropology and psychiatry and behavioral sciences. This Gary, Indiana, native earned her BA and MA degrees from Indiana University and went on to receive her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. She taught anthropology at Harvard University for four years before joining the UCLA faculty in 1973.

Her areas of research and publication include Afro-American vernacular, Caribbean cultures, mental retardation, and interracial marriages. She served as a researcher for the National Institute of Mental Health, consultant for the National Urban League, and trustee of the Center for Applied Linguistics. In 1994 President Clinton appointed Mitchell-Kernan to the National Science Board, the policy-making unit of the National Science Foundation.