Indian American attorney Chandra Bhatnagar, named earlier this year as UCLA’s inaugural assistant vice chancellor for civil rights in the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, was recently featured by the university.
Bhatnagar has been serving in the role since Jan. 25, taking over the office that was announced in a message to the UCLA community last fall.
“Bhatnagar brings a wealth of experience and a deep commitment to civil rights and the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion,” Anna Spain Bradley, UCLA’s vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion, wrote in an email announcing his appointment to lead the office of civil rights. “I am delighted to welcome him to this important leadership role that will benefit our UCLA community.”
The attorney formerly served as UCLA’s director of staff diversity and equal employment opportunity compliance. In that role, he was responsible for overseeing investigations of discrimination and harassment complaints involving staff.
He also led the development and implementation of UCLA’s staff affirmative action plan, programs to ensure equal employment opportunity for staff and educational efforts to advance staff diversity and inclusion across all of campus, including the UCLA health system, the university said.
Prior to joining UCLA in November 2017, Bhatnagar was the senior attorney advisor to Jenny Yang, former chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
He advised on a range of legal and policy matters including complex employment relationships, immigrant migrant and other vulnerable workers, LGBT discrimination, advancing diversity in law enforcement, labor trafficking and strategic communications.
He previously served as a senior staff attorney in the Human Rights Program of the American Civil Liberties Union, according to his bio.
Born in New Delhi, India, Bhatnagar grew up in New Jersey and New York City, but regularly returned back to India to be with his extended family.
“My own personal experiences with discrimination in the United States, the experiences of family members and of close friends all played a role in shaping my awareness,” he said in the report. “As a high school student, I developed an understanding of the American Civil Rights movement and its connection to global movements for freedom and independence for formerly colonized countries, including the movement for Indian independence.
Additionally, in college, as a student of American history and a student of world history, he said he was particularly interested in social movements and in contemporary assertions of human rights.
The new assistant vice chancellor said he was also profoundly impacted by the example of the great Nelson Mandela and the powerful anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.