Valerie S. Ashby, Ph.D., Dean of Trinity College

Memo from the Dean 1/13/2016: Trinity College Follow up on Task Force on Bias and Hate

January 19, 2016

Dear Faculty and Staff,
 
Earlier today, President Brodhead reported on the work and planning that has taken place since the Duke Community Conversation in November, including the scope and membership of the Task Force on Hate and Bias Issues. (See URL http://today.duke.edu/2016/01/biashate).  The task force is led by sociologist and divisional dean of the social sciences Linda Burton, in partnership with Kelly Brownell, dean of the Sanford School.
 
The president also described plans to honor the contributions of African American architect Julian Abele, who designed much of West campus including the Duke Chapel. (See URL http://today.duke.edu/2016/01/abelerecognition)  And, he announced a new website to feature the university’s activities and progress in addressing issues of race, diversity and inequality that affect our community.
 
As part of this outreach, I am now reaching out to our faculty, staff, and students to talk about our school-specific plans, and progress to date.
 
You may recall from my fall address that diversity in all its forms is one of our three strategic planning themes.  I have constituted a Diversity Advisory Committee for Trinity College of Arts & Sciences that includes faculty, administrators and staff. These individuals represent a deep core of expertise in history; issues of ethnic, gender and sexual identity; law; public administration; ethics; sociology; pedagogy; advising; and documentary arts.  A subset of the committee met prior to the winter break, and I could not be more pleased and energized by this first exchange of ideas.  We will now begin meeting regularly, working initially on issues raised by the fall community conversations, and incidents of bias, racial aggression and hate that have occurred on our campus.  Implementation of the committee’s work will take three forms of engagement: education, conversations and communications. You will hear more about this soon.
 
I also plan to establish a student advisory group within the next few weeks.  This group will engage with the Diversity Advisory Committee as well as conduct work on its own.  Membership will include both undergraduate and graduate students from across the divisions.
 
Since the first week of December, more than 70 faculty and staff reporting to the Office of the Dean have taken Implicit Bias Training through the Office of Institutional Equity.  These individuals span academic affairs, assessment, communications, finance & administration, technology services, continuing studies, divisional deans’ staff, Service Learning, and the Thompson Writing Program.  This is the same training faculty search committee members now take—a change implemented in the spring of 2015 by then Dean Laurie Patton. This is an important investment in the health and wellness of our community and I encourage departments and programs to schedule such training for your faculty and staff.

Diversity is a key driver for new ideas and creativity—and we recognize that it creates challenges as well as opportunities.  I welcome your thoughts and suggestions as we work together on this topic in the coming years.  We learn the most from those who are different than ourselves.  As we dedicate ourselves each day to providing a world class liberal arts education, we must also be dedicated to ensuring inclusion for every member of our community.  If you have not already done so, I encourage you to read Trinity College’s Statement on Diversity and Inclusion: http://trinity.duke.edu/diversity-inclusion.
 
Cordially,
 
Valerie S. Ashby
Dean of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
Duke University