Academic Affairs

Academic Deans

As academic officers of Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, the academic deans report to the Dean of Academic Affairs and serve under the leadership of Senior Associate Dean Gerald Wilson. They oversee and ensure the progress of undergraduate students toward graduation, provide counsel and advice to students regarding their academic plans, both present and future, and are responsible for ensuring that policies are applied conscientiously and equitably and exceptions are granted in consistent ways. The academic deans contribute to the development and promulgation of academic policies and programs, and publish, administer, and interpret them for undergraduate students, faculty, and parents.

Collectively, the academic deans have the authority and responsibility to modify, interpret, adapt, and change academic policies, and they decide when a policy change needs to be brought to the Arts and Science Council for approval or ratifications. Each Trinity dean also assists with decisions about policy and requirements, course registration and senior graduation, among other activities. In additional, several deans direct programs such as the Undergraduate Research Support Office or the Prehealth Advising Office. 

Overview of a Four-Year Dean Model

Beginning in fall 2015, Trinity College instituted a four-year dean model for undergraduates, in which each student is assigned to one academic dean, and this dean will remain theirs for all four years. This is to ensure that each student has one consistent academic contact over the course of their time at Duke, as well as to provide for holistic support and long-term mentoring relationships that provide continuity over time.

First-year students are assigned to a dean in late July or early August, based on their first year residence hall assignment. One academic dean is assigned to each first-year residence hall, joining the faculty-in-residence, residential coordinator, the Focus faculty, and residential assistants in order to establish an intellectual community that supports a student's successful transition to Duke in their first year.

Trinity Deans

Milton Blackmon, Ed.D.

As an academic dean, I support students who live or lived in Randolph House and sophomores who lived in Epworth. I am the graduate business school advisor. I am the academic dean for visiting international students. I coordinate the biennial Graduate and Professional School Day Fair. I am a member... Contact me »

John H. Blackshear

I am Academic Dean for first-year students residing in the Jarvis and Bell Tower dorms. In addition, I am the co-Director of the Duke STEM Pathways for Inclusion, Research and Excellence Fellows Program. I serve as the Faculty-in-Residence for Trinity House and I am instructor in the Department of... Contact me »

Paula E. Gilbert, Ph.D.

I serve as the academic dean for non-degree students (also known as Continuing Studies students) and all summer visiting students. Administratively, I am the director/dean of the Duke Office of Continuing Studies and Summer Session and a volunteer advisor for the Academic Advising Center. Contact me »

Donna Kostyu, Ph.D.

As an academic dean, I support students who live or did live in Alspaugh House.  I also serve as Director of the Health Professions Advising Office. Contact me »

Rachael Murphey-Brown, Ph.D.

As Academic Dean, I support students who live or did live in Blackwell House and am the administrative liaison for academic departments in the social sciences. Additionally, I direct Program II, co-direct the Peer Advising Program, coordinate the Graduation with Distinction Program and serve as the... Contact me »

Karen Murphy

As an Academic Dean, I support first year students in Gilbert-Addoms and Blackwell, sophomores who lived in Brown their first year, and juniors and seniors who lived in Gilbert-Addoms and Epworth their first year. I am the curriculum dean for Trinity College and the liaison for natural and... Contact me »

Minna Ng

As Academic Dean, I support students who live or did live in Gilbert-Addoms and Blackwell residence hall. I am the faculty director for the David M. Rubenstein Scholars Program, and teach in the Undergraduate Neuroscience Program. Contact me at (919) 684-2130. Contact me »

Alyssa Perz

As an academic dean, I support students who live or did live in Southgate House. I serve as a prehealth advisor, and as dean and academic advisor for the women’s basketball team and football players. I am also the director of the Cardea Fellows Program and a lecturer in the Department of Biology. Contact me »

David Rabiner

As an Academic Dean, I support students who live in the East House and seniors in Brown residence hall. I serve as the director of the Academic Advising Center ( The AAC is a student's primary academic home in Trinity College until they declare a major and join a department. I am... Contact me »

Sarah Russell, Ph.D.

As an Academic Dean, I support students who live in Brown and Pegram residence halls.  I also serve as Director of the Undergraduate Research Support office, and I am an adjunct instructor in the International Comparative Studies major. Contact me »

Jesse S. Summers, Ph.D.

I support students who live or lived in Blackwell. I direct the Courses committee, oversee House courses, and am the academic liaison for Robertson Scholars, for Duke Student Government, and for the Humanities to the DUS Program. Contact me »

Sabrina L Thomas

As an academic dean, I support students who live or did live in Wilson House, current juniors and seniors who lived in Jarvis House residence halls and students attending Duke as participants on the domestic exchange program with Howard University and Spelman College. I also serve as director of... Contact me »

Gerald Wilson, Ph.D.

As an academic dean I support first-year students who live in Basset House and some designated upperclassmen. I am the Appeals Officer in the College and I advise students in the University who are considering careers in law. I teach one lecture course each semester, “American Dreams/ American... Contact me »

Jenny Wood Crowley, Ph.D.

As an Academic Dean, I support students who live or did live in Giles House and Randolf House. I direct the SPIRE fellows program and co-coordinate the Pipeline Initiative. I also teach in Duke’s History Department and the FOCUS program. Contact me »