Abel Valenzuela Jr. was appointed interim dean of social sciences effective September 2022. A member of the UCLA faculty since 1994, Valenzuela is a professor of labor studies, urban planning and Chicana/o and Central American studies and the most recent past director of UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, working with colleagues to build labor studies and enhance research and engagement through the newly named James Lawson Worker Justice Center.
Valenzuela is a leading national expert on day labor (itinerant workers) and precarious labor markets, and he continues to publish and frame public and policy conversations on immigrant and low-wage workers. His research interests include precarious labor markets, worker centers, immigrant workers, environmental equity, just transitions, neighborhood change and Los Angeles.
At UCLA, he has held several administrative leadership positions, including chairing Chicana/o and Central American studies for two terms, directing the Center for the Study of Urban Poverty for more than a decade and serving as special advisor to the chancellor on immigration policy for four years. During UCLA’s Centennial Celebration, Valenzuela led the exhibit “UCLA: Our Stories, Our Impact,” an effort to recognize and uplift alumni of color who have dedicated their work to social justice and change.
Valenzuela earned his B.A. from UC Berkeley (social science field major) and his M.C.P. and Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.