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

Memo to Students - Diversity & Inclusion Work in Trinity College - 1/13/2016

January 19, 2016

Dear Undergraduate and Graduate Students,

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 Bias and Hate Issues. (See URL  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  And, he announced a forthcoming 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 writing to undergraduate students in Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, and to graduate students in arts & sciences departments and programs. I write to update you on our school-specific plans to address the problems raised by the fall community conversations, and incidents of bias, racial aggression and hate that have occurred on our campus.  Our long term aim is to create a community where diversity and inclusion are valued and the norm.

Our Plans

1. Living our values: Trinity College has made diversity in all its forms one of our three strategic planning themes. Our work will be ongoing, public and broad reaching. Implementation will take three forms of engagement: education, conversations and communications.

2. Dedicating resources: I have created 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 every two weeks.

3. Partnering with students: I will be establishing a student advisory group within the next few weeks. It will include both undergraduate and graduate students. This group will engage with the Diversity Advisory Committee as well as conduct work on its own.

4. Investing in our faculty: All faculty search committees take Implicit Bias Training in order to help us create the most diverse faculty community we can. We began requiring this training in the spring of 2015. Incidentally, diversifying our faculty is a long-standing goal for Duke and the college and we are making steady progress. I will discuss this more with you in a later communication.

5. Empowering our community: 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. This is an important investment in the health and wellness of our community and I am encouraging departments and programs to schedule such training for their faculty and staff.

6. Planning for education: We plan to develop and offer a University Course focused on diversity in the spring of 2016. We are also in discussion with the undergraduate curriculum committee to create a new, first year Duke 101 course that will apply the liberal arts lens to themes of diversity and inclusion.

We want you to know that Duke has heard you, and we will continue to listen even as we move forward together with concrete actions for change.


Valerie S. Ashby
Dean of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences