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

Memo from the Dean - 9/19/2016 - Why Trinity Will Invest in "Teaching for Equity" Fellows

September 22, 2016

Dear Faculty and Staff,
As I mentioned in my address to A&S Council, Provost Kornbluth and I are funding a second cohort of Teaching for Equity Fellows this year. Nineteen faculty are now engaged in the year-long workshop series to learn how to address issues of identity, race and racial bias in their classrooms.
We are supporting the Teaching for Equity Fellows (TEF) program ( in response to the needs of both students and our faculty. When issues of race, bias or other forms of prejudice come up in our classrooms, not all of our faculty feel well equipped to respond—particularly when the issue is outside their area of scholarship. Similarly, sometimes students can feel isolated and marginalized in a class.
Through the TEF workshops, faculty fellows become attuned to the ways in which implicit assumptions about values, standards, and cultural norms attached to racial and other identities can affect the classroom experience. Fellows also learn to recognize when students themselves may be adversely impacting others in class. Then they learn specific skills and strategies to create a classroom culture that benefits all our students.
Last academic year, 13 faculty members participated in the pilot version of this program, offered through the Duke Human Rights Center at Franklin Humanities Institute. Our initial class gave the program high praise, and I’d like to share some of these highlights with you:

  • More than 90 percent have a deeper understanding of how racial dynamics impact classroom culture in general, and how these dynamics impact Duke University culture
  • More than 80 percent gained a greater awareness of the experiences students are having in classrooms at Duke University
  • More than 90 percent will use the strategies they have learned
  • More than 90 percent said the program has made me a better teacher

This year, a new group of 19 fellows committed to the program. This group began the program late August and will continue throughout this school year. Our new fellows are:

  • Jennifer Ahern-Dodson, Assistant Professor of the Practice, Thompson Writing Program; Acting Director, Language, Arts + Media Program
  • Nicolette Cagle, Lecturer in Environmental Science & Policy, Nicholas School of the Environment
  • Joan Clifford, Assistant Professor of the Practice, Romance Studies & Duke Service-learning
  • Kristen Dolan, Instructor, Germanic Languages & Literature
  • Stefani Engelstein, Associate Professor, Germanic Languages & Literature
  • Bethzaida Fernandez, Lecturer, Romance Studies
  • David Font-Navarrete, Lecturing Fellow, Thompson Writing Program
  • Ashley Gosselin-Ildari, Visiting Assistant Professor, Evolutionary Anthropology
  • Jaki Shelton Green, Instructor, Center for Documentary Studies
  • Jennifer Hawkins, Associate Research Professor, Philosophy
  • Alison Hill, Assistant Professor of the Practice, Biology
  • Jayne O. Ifekwunigwe, Visiting Associate Professor, Center on Genomics, Race, Identity, Difference
  • Deborah Jenson, Professor of Romance Studies and Global Health; Director, Franklin Humanities Institute
  • Kimberly Lamm, Assistant Professor, Program in Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies
  • Melanie Manion, Professor of Political Science
  • Karen Murphy, Lecturing fellow/Academic Dean, Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Melissa Simmermeyer, Lecturer, Romance Studies
  • Christopher Sims, Undergraduate Education Director, Center for Documentary Studies
  • Susan R. Wynn, Director of the Program in Education

Moving forward, we plan to offer two concurrent programs in the 2017/2018 academic year so that we can reach 40 faculty members a year. We plan to begin accepting faculty expressions of interest for the 2017-18 class in the spring.
I am very pleased with how well this program has been received. It is a real time, tangible way for us to shape campus culture, and it embodies our core values of diversity and inclusion.
Valerie S. Ashby
Dean of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences