Office of the Dean
Advancing the Arts & Sciences: A Strategic Framework for Trinity College 2015-2020
Framing, Driving and Deepening Change
On July 1, 2015, Valerie S. Ashby assumed the deanship of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences (TCA&S), marking a new chapter in the Trinity’s leadership and a new opportunity to imagine and reimage the Arts & Sciences. To develop vision and priorities for TCA&S, she posed three fundamental questions that have become the guiding principles for our work: Why are we here? How do we behave? And what are we going to do?
Why are we here? Our mission is to advance knowledge through research and to deliver a world-class liberal arts education in a leading research environment. A liberal arts education engages faculty and students together in the process of inquiry and discovery. It develops critical thinking and the willingness to question what one thinks one knows. It provides room for new perspectives through intellectual empathy. Indeed, we are transformed as faculty, students and staff when we fully embrace the idea that we learn the most from the people with whom we have the least in common. In the classroom and lab, in art studios and concert halls, and in other countries immersed in another language, we benefit most when we step outside of the familiar and embrace the unknown in new and innovative ways.
How do we behave? The work of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences calls for a culture of service with a clear commitment to faculty and staff colleagues and to our students. It demands a commitment to the entirety of scholarship: teaching, research and service. It calls for a willingness to listen carefully and to participate in new collaborations. It requires us to identify, prepare, and support leaders. It necessitates communication that is honest, straightforward, and transparent. It requires us to recognize, value, and capitalize on our differences. And finally, it requires a clear perspective that the achievement of excellence is an imperfect process that requires daily work.
And what are we going to do? In advancing Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, we are focusing on three overarching themes and common goals:
- Leadership and Mentoring
Each of these priorities overlaps with the other two; taken together, they frame a clear operating strategy for advancing the school. These three goals have been articulated consistently and affirmed in discussions with faculty, students, staff, as well as with the TCA&S chairs, the A&S Council, and the Trinity College Board of Visitors. They inform all of our strategic planning efforts.
Goal 1: Advance Excellence in Research, Teaching and Service
Trinity College of Arts & Sciences is nationally and internationally recognized as a vibrant community of scholars engaged in research, teaching, and service. Over the past two decades, we have developed a distinctive identity as a university by leveraging the talents of our faculty, integrating research and education, and fostering connections – connections within and between disciplines, connections between faculty and students, and connections across the university and the globe. But, as we look to the next five years, we must focus clearly and deliberately on how we might strategically and uniquely become even greater in future. We are committed to keeping our excellent humanities departments and programs strong in the years to come and cultivating Duke’s signature brand of interdisciplinarity in our undergraduate and graduate programs. We are building the Social Sciences by working in common thematic areas to enhance collaborations and by bringing visibility to what are deep areas of strength in the division. Perhaps most critically, we must invest in the sciences which have not been developed in the same way as the other divisions because of their relatively large start-up costs, laboratories, space, and specialized instrumentation.
To advance TCA&S with respect to research, we seek to:
- Increase the distinguished profiles of our faculty as well as departments’ national and international reputations
- Cultivate new areas of reputational strength
- Maintain the high profile of the Humanities and Social Sciences, while developing the Natural Sciences analogous to the other divisions
- Strengthen connections to other schools and institutes
- Recruit and retain distinguished faculty and “game changers” who can advance departmental rankings
- Augment support of current faculty
- Enhance space, facilities, equipment, and infrastructure
To meet these goals, we will make strategic hires of high profile faculty in well-defined areas, partner with departments and schools, and challenge departments to think strategically about where they want to invest. We must also nurture and support our current faculty so that they serve as scholars and leaders of our academic enterprise.
2015‐16 accomplishments: We aligned search plans with TCA&S strategic priorities; clearly messaged TCA&S was changing, not growing; made 13 hires in well‐defined areas; responded to 13 retention offers (10 offers not responded to); named 5 faculty to distinguished professorships; initiated Dean’s and Trinity Board newsletters to highlight A&S priorities and faculty accomplishments; aligned dean’s awards with the three TCA&S priorities; provided infrastructure to increase external support and F&A’s across the three divisions; and renovated facilities for research faculty.
2016‐17 accomplishments: We hired 28 new faculty whom we believe will be transformative; retained 10 faculty to increase the level of departmental excellence (4 offers not responded to); increased joint appointments with schools and units; named 1 faculty member to a distinguished professorship; heightened the importance of faculty nominations and awards; developed a “Humanities Team” to develop clear Humanities messaging and marketing; adjusted parameters for retirement agreements; renovated facilities for research faculty; and aligned development gifts with strategic priorities.
Next steps: We will continue to make strategic hires aligned with our priorities; help “target” departments achieve top 10 status; conduct “deep dive” analysis of all TCA&S departments; cultivate the nomination of faculty for distinguished professorships; partner with Pratt and the Dean of the Medical School in science initiatives; launch a Women in Science initiative; consider the issue of tenuring arts professionals; work closely on faculty development with the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement; partner with the Vice Provost for Research on increased faculty nominations and grant support; continue to provide equipment and facilities for research faculty; and pursue development gifts aligned with our strategic priorities.
To advance TC&AS with respect to teaching, we seek to:
- Provide a distinctive, world-class undergraduate liberal arts education
- Align teaching with our research mission
- Reimagine gateway courses, particularly in the sciences
- Target excellence in the majors
- Expand pedagogies of engagement and active, student-centered learning
- Enhance classrooms and instructional technologies
- Continue to develop master’s programs
We seek to provide a world class education for all our students that is distinctively Duke – that is, an education that engages students and faculty in intellectual partnerships, focuses on important questions, and takes advantage of the university’s rich resources both inside and outside the classroom. We strongly believe that the greatest advantage of a research university is the ability to connect undergraduate education to faculty and to the processes of inquiry and discovery. We seek to build innovative gateway courses and experiences that capture students’ imaginations and recruit them into disciplines, to provide hands-on (and minds-on) research opportunities that build relationships between students and faculty as they investigate questions about which they are mutually passionate, and to help students design for themselves a coherent pathway of study that leads to a piece of “signature work,” whether that be a journal article, a service learning policy paper, or an original musical composition.
2015‐16 accomplishments: We continued discussion about a new liberal arts undergraduate curriculum; added 171 new courses; approved 1 new major, 3 new minors, and 4 new certificates; expanded undergraduate opportunities with Bass Connections, Humanities labs, and undergraduate research; continued to strengthen introductory science courses; launched a summer program for women in computer science; partnered with the CIT for workshops on new pedagogies and technologies; strengthened Advising and the Academic Resource Center; continued to assess general education and learning in the major; enhanced classroom facilities and technologies; and added 1 new master’s program.
2016‐17 accomplishments: We discussed the proposal for a new undergraduate liberal arts curriculum; added 182 new courses; approved 1 new major; 1 new minor, and 4 new certificates; expanded undergraduate opportunities with Bass Connections, Humanities labs, and undergraduate research; continued to enhance introductory science courses; expanded our summer program for women in computer science; partnered with the CIT for workshops on new pedagogies and technologies; strengthened Advising and the Academic Resource Center; introduced the 4‐year dean model; continued to assess general education and learning in the major and in certificates; enhanced classroom facilities and technologies; introduced a new A&S portfolio tool; and added 1 new master’s program.
Next steps: We will broaden discussion about Duke’s liberal arts curriculum; continue to review courses, majors, minors, and certificates as a part of department’s teaching plans; initiate a targeted programs for underrepresented minorities in mathematics and finance; expand our summer program for women in computer science; launch an online undergraduate research journal, enhance classroom facilities and technologies; and consider proposals for 3 new master’s programs.
To advance TCA&S with respect to service, we seek to:
- Create a stronger “culture of service” to the department, college, and university
- Provide clear expectations for, and increased recognition of, faculty and staff service
- Support opportunities for community identification and celebration
Our mission calls for a stronger “culture of service” with a clear commitment to faculty and staff colleagues and to our students. For faculty, it calls for a commitment to the entirety of scholarship: teaching, research, and service. For students, it calls for engaging robustly and respectfully with faculty and fellow students. For staff, it calls for working collectively and collaboratively as a part of a team for the greater good. We seek to nurture, within faculty, students, and staff, a stronger sense of identification with, and belonging to, the Duke community. To accomplish these aspirations, we must help articulate the excellence of the arts & sciences and our pride in Duke. We must detail clear expectations for community and professional interactions, provide feedback when expectations are not met, and visibly recognize and tangibly reward when they are. Creating a community where all members are valued is difficult work, and achieving that is an imperfect process. We seek to emphasize constantly the privilege of, and the responsibility for, contributing to the greater University.
2015‐16 accomplishments: We messaged service expectations to faculty at every level of their professional advancement; began newsletters to faculty, students, and staff, celebrating TCA&S accomplishments and Duke developments; hosted community‐building events in collaboration with athletic events; aligned one of the Dean’s awards as the “Dean’s Service Award;” and instituted a Trinity College all‐staff appreciation reception.
2016‐17 accomplishments: We continued to message service expectations to faculty at every level of their professional advancement; inserted expectations about service in all faculty offer letters; continued newsletters and emails to faculty, students, and staff, celebrating Arts & Sciences accomplishments and Duke development; hosted community‐building events in collaboration with athletic events; celebrated the Dean’s Service Award and launched the inaugural Brodhead Service Award; and continued the Trinity College staff appreciation reception.
Next steps: We will continue to message service expectations to faculty at every level of their professional advancement; insert expectations about service in all faculty offer letters; develop standards for faculty professional behavior; communicate to faculty, students, and staff, celebrating TCA&S accomplishments and Duke developments; host community‐building events in collaboration with athletic events; and continue to bestow the Dean’s Service Award, the Dean’s Pillars of Excellence Staff Awards, and the Brodhead Service Awards.
Goal 2: Elevate Leadership and Mentoring Among All Faculty Ranks
Faculty are the heart of the university, and we must advance not only their research, teaching, and service, but also their personal development. Cultivating and nurturing talent is one of the best investments we can make for a thriving school. We must mentor faculty from their first days on campus so that they understand the value of excellence in research, teaching, and service. We must identify faculty and staff who have the potential for leadership, provide appropriate skills and tools needed for success, and nurture those in leadership to be intellectual ground breakers and examples for the next generation of scholars. Such professional development has both short and long term consequences for the health and continuing advancement of TCA&S. In addition, it provides an effective form of preemptive retention to keep our best talent at Duke, particularly for those offered attractive opportunities elsewhere. Leadership and mentoring promulgate a strong culture of service back to the University and emphasize faculty are valued for their contributions to the Duke community.
To advance TCA&S with respect to leadership, we seek to:
- Identify faculty with potential to become leaders
- Recruit and retain chairs who can effectively develop and manage departments
- Provide training for new chairs and ongoing development opportunities for all chairs
- Provide opportunities for all faculty to develop to their full potential
- Increase the communication between the deans’ offices, the TCA&S departments, and other constituents to promote a greater understanding of our shared values.
We firmly believe that when we hire, we must hire for future potential as well as past accomplishment and actively retain those who can become dynamic future leaders. We must aggressively promote leadership skills – the ability to collaborate, convene, and inspire; to elicit feedback; to listen broadly; and to gain wide input before making decisions. And, we must take care to nurture personal and professional growth of faculty at each stage of their careers and set clear expectations: greater engagement of junior faculty in the Duke community, expectations for associate professors to achieve full professorship, and goals for service in more senior faculty.
2015‐16 accomplishments: We hosted meetings with 32 individual chairs; increased meetings with chairs and divisional chair meetings; appointed 9 strategically selected chairs; considered a 5‐year term, when feasible; initiated orientation for new chairs, developed chair workshops targeted on specific topics and skills, instituted the Dean’s Leadership Award; communicated broadly our priority on faculty and chair leadership development; and helped alumni and the Trinity Board more closely align with TCA&S strategic priorities.
2016‐17 accomplishments: We continued more strategic chair and divisional chair meetings; appointed 6 strategically selected chairs; considered a 5‐year term, when feasible; enhanced orientation for new chairs; expanded chair workshops targeted on specific topics and skills; hosted a meeting with chairs of smaller departments; selected a Dean’s Leadership Award; successfully nominated faculty for national leadership institutes; increased relationships with the co‐chairs of Trinity Board and members of its executive committee; and performed a 360° chair review of the first year of the TCA&S leadership.
Next steps: We will expand chair and divisional chair meetings; appoint 11 strategically selected chairs; consider a 5‐ year term, when feasible; consider an associate chair (or chair‐in‐waiting) for some departments; enhance orientation for new chairs; develop workshops on topics requested by chairs; select a Dean’s Leadership Award; nominate faculty for national leadership institutes; increase interaction with the chair and executive committee of the Trinity Board; and develop a Trinity Leadership Academy and recruit pilot faculty to participate.
To advance TCA&S with respect to mentorship, we seek to:
- Develop mentoring plans for each department
- Develop orientation for new faculty
- Provide peer cohort mentoring for assistant professors
- Provide peer cohort mentoring for associate professors
- Provide peer cohort mentoring for POPS
We are emphasizing talent development at all stages of faculty careers, and consistent mentoring is key to faculty – or any other type of – success. Mentorship is all about creating a caring, two-way relationship and setting high expectations. Whether it focuses on disciplinary assumptions, institutional navigation, professional networks, or work-life balance, mentoring facilitates expertise, connections, and success. It gives faculty the tools and insight to achieve to their full potential. Training and mentorship promulgate a strong culture of service, giving back to the university through leadership. It also supports the recruitment and retention of the very best faculty. That, in turn, enables the development of a sense of pride and belonging.
2015‐16 accomplishments: We asked all departments and programs to develop mentoring plans; established mentoring teams for junior faculty; initiated meetings with assistant professors; and conducted meetings with all newly tenured faculty.
2016‐17 accomplishments: We launched a Chairs Discussion Group; developed an orientation for new faculty; asked chairs to update mentoring plans for junior faculty; met with all assistant professors as a group and by division; and met with all associate professors.
Next steps: We will continue to review department mentoring plans and mentoring teams for junior faculty; expand orientation for new faculty; continue to meet with assistant and associate professors; enlarge mentoring meetings to include Professors of the Practice; and create a “Women in Science” Initiative.
Goal 3: Foster Diversity as a Basis for Innovation & Excellence
Trinity College Arts & Sciences has clearly and consistently articulated its deep commitment to diversity as a central tenet for new ideas and creativity. To be a truly educated person, one must embrace and practice an appreciation for different disciplines, thought processes, modes of expression, backgrounds, and histories – in other words, engagement with the full range of knowledge and human experiences. Indeed, this is the core of the liberal arts education. Complex issues belie simple solutions, and diversity provides a way of thinking and using different perspectives, not only to more effectively solve today’s problems but to imagine future possibilities in an unscripted world. And finally, we seek to develop not just an inclusive environment for faculty, students, and staff, but a collaborative community that promotes a “culture of belonging,” so that diverse perspectives not only provide value but are publicly recognized for the value they add.
To advance TCA&S with respect to diversity, we seek to:
- Clearly articulate our philosophy of diversity as a central tenet for new ideas and creativity
- Continue to diversify the faculty
- Raise the visibility of the scholarship and accomplishments of our diverse faculty
- Create strategies for Education, Conversation, and Communication
- Create and implement a Diversity Advisory Committee for faculty and staff as well as students
- Increase diversity among the academic deans, administration, and the Trinity Board of Visitors
2015‐16 accomplishments: We hired 8 new minority faculty members; developed a Trinity statement on Diversity and Inclusion and created a new web page; initiated a Dean’s Diversity award; provided implicit bias training for all search committees; initiated the Teaching for Equity Fellows Program (12 participants); initiated multiple communications on the value of diversity to faculty, students, and staff.
2016‐17 accomplishments: We hired 4 new minority faculty members; established the Faculty and Staff Diversity Advisory Committee and the Student Diversity Advisory Committee; extended implicit bias training for new faculty; expanded the Teaching for Equity Fellows Program (17 participants); sponsored a University course on Race; started a Diversity & STEM pathways initiative; launched conversations in the residence halls and heightened communication efforts; celebrated the Dean’s Diversity Award; hosted speakers and events by diverse authors and scholars; launched a 50 Years of Black Faculty Celebration and the annual Dean’s Lecture Series; continued to diversify the Dean’s Office and the Office of the Trinity Academic Deans; strengthened the engagement of the Black Alumni Association and the Hispanic/Latino Alumni Association; continued to diversify the Trinity College Board of Visitors.
Next steps: We will onboard 6 new minority faculty members; work closely with the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement on all issues related to diversity and excellence; continue the Faculty and Student Diversity Advisory Committees; expand implicit bias training; support the Teaching for Equity Fellows Program; initiate programs targeted for underrepresented STEM students; celebrate the Dean’s Diversity Award and other occasions involving diversity; sponsor the annual Dean’s Lecture; and broaden conversations across the campus with faculty, students, and staff.
The three themes of excellence, leadership, and diversity may amount to what seems like a tall order. But they are actually all interrelated under the category of advancing the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences to that next level of exceptional achievement. We can’t be excellent without distinguished faculty who advance the frontiers of knowledge through research. We can’t be excellent without shaping the next generation of graduate and undergraduate students so that they will have satisfying and productive lives. We can’t be excellent without the strong leadership and mentoring of visionary chairs or without faculty successful and satisfied at each stage of their academic careers. And finally, we can’t be excellent without incorporating and celebrating the full range of disciplines, histories, backgrounds, and life experiences. It is, after all, finally about increasing our trajectory of excellence and being the best College we can possibly be. This work is ongoing and never finished.