Professor Hector Myers

In 1981, Hector F. Myers became the first Black psychology professor (likely the first Black professor in Life Sciences) to achieve tenure at UCLA. As he recounts his early days in academia, he highlights how Black perspectives were introduced into psychology education and research at UCLA. His story underscores the value of diverse perspectives in science and also the importance of allyship in advancing equity and inclusion.

Myers entered UCLA’s Department of Psychology in 1969, as one of four Black graduate students in the department. Upon receiving his Ph.D. in 1974, Myers accepted a half-time position as an assistant professor of psychology at UCLA, while keeping his clinical practice in South Central Los Angeles. In 1978, he was persuaded to give up his clinical work to become a full-time professor, and he earned tenure within the next few years.

As a UCLA professor of clinical psychology for over 39 years, Myers’ research examined a myriad of health issues linked to stress. One issue, hypertension, was a problem in his own family and a condition that disproportionately affects Black communities. Other areas of research he pursued came from observations he made during his clinical practice in South Central Los Angeles. Much of his research addressed health issues that disproportionately affect African American populations.

What was it like for Myers, coming into UCLA’s psychology department as a Black graduate student in 1969? How did he and fellow graduate student, Lewis King, help to launch the department’s first course to consider race?  As a graduate student and young professor, what lessons did he learn, especially when it came to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in academia?

Here, in his own words, Dr. Myers shares the story of his early academic journey. (~12-minutes)