Roberta Espinoza to Deliver Melvin L. Oliver Racial Justice Initiative Lecture on Counterspaces for Minoritized Students

A headshot of Roberta Espinoza. Espinoza has long wavy dark brown hair and wears a dark blue blazer and black and silver beaded necklace.
Roberta Espinoza

Claremont, Calif. (April 11, 2023)—Sociology scholar and former Pitzer dean Roberta Espinoza returns to campus on April 18 for the spring Melvin L. Oliver Racial Justice Initiative Lecture. Drawing from over 10 years of working in diverse higher education environments, Espinoza will share her talk “Validating and Supporting Counterspaces for Minoritized Students at Liberal Arts Colleges.”

The reception is at 5:30 p.m. and the presentation begins at 6 p.m. in the Founders Room of Pitzer’s McConnell Center.

Espinoza is vice provost for global-local affairs and professor of sociology at Loyola Marymount University. Espinoza joined LMU in 2018. She received her BA from Pomona College and her MA and PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley.

At LMU, Espinoza oversees the Office of Study Abroad, the Office of National & International Fellowships, the Center for the Study of Los Angeles, and the Center for Urban Resilience. As LMU’s inaugural senior international officer, she facilitates collaborations and professional relationships among LMU faculty, staff, alumni, and other institutions on comprehensive internalization (global) and strategic community engagement (local). 

Espinoza previously served as interim associate dean of Global and Local Programs and director of the Institute for Global-Local Action & Study at Pitzer. She grew the Global Local Mentorship Program that exposed students to immersive education abroad and local community engagement. She created Pitzer’s First-Gen Program and oversaw the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships.  

Espinoza’s expertise on higher education access is informed by her experience as a first-generation Latinx student. She has written several books, peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and magazine articles for educational practitioners on the role of social and cultural capital in the educational advancement of first-generation students of color.  

About the Melvin L. Oliver Racial Justice Initiative

Established in 2020 by Pitzer President Melvin L. Oliver to embed racial justice throughout the Pitzer educational experience, RJI was renamed the Melvin L. Oliver Racial Justice Initiative in his honor when he retired in June 2022. Pitzer College also established an endowed fund to support RJI on a permanent basis. 

“The Melvin L. Oliver Racial Justice Initiative endowed fund will create an ongoing revenue stream for generations to come,” said Pitzer Board of Trustees Chair Donald P. Gould. “It is a gift in perpetuity that will honor President Oliver and his lifelong efforts to create a more just and equitable world.” 

To support productive discussion, analysis, and activism, the Melvin L. Oliver Racial Justice Initiative provides funds for three primary prongs: curricular transformation, co-curricular transformation, and structural transformation.  

President Oliver has called the initiative “a culmination of my life’s work and an essential component of Pitzer’s social justice mission.” 

Interested in attending the RJI lecture? For more information:

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit

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