The Arts and Sciences Council met for the first time during the 2016-2017 academic year Wednesday. Valerie Ashby, dean of Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, addressed the faculty to outline some of her goals for the year. Here are some of the main points of the meeting:

1. Ashby is really excited for the year:

Ashby noted in her speech that she was impressed by watching move-in day and that it inspired her to continue the school’s mission to “deliver a world class liberal arts education in a research environment."

2. Trinity continues to support faculty and student excellence:

Ashby announced that the school is in the process of hiring a Director of Research Opportunities, a new position that will be based in the Franklin Humanities Institute. The role will be responsible for coordinating and creating interdisciplinary projects across schools. Arlie Petters, dean of academic affairs and associate vice provost for undergraduate education, is also working to establish an undergraduate research journal to showcase student work. Trinity has received several major donations to support various programs, including the Duke Technology Scholars Project aimed at women in computer science.

3. Curriculum review will be big this year:

Anita Layton, chair of the council and Robert R. and Katherine B. Penn professor of mathematics, announced that the curriculum committee would work with departments this Fall to review proposed changes. The full proposal will be presented to the council for a vote in Spring 2017.

The new curriculum recognizes that current students are different than when the curriculum was developed in the late 1990s. The proposal from last Spring would require students to complete another program—a minor, certificate or other major—besides their first major and would include a common “Duke Experience” course for first years. Ashby noted that she hopes the curriculum will be a major step, incorporating the best parts of the current structure.

“I am so confident that we will together produce something that we can all be proud of going forward,” she said.

4. Diversity initiatives remain a focus:

Last year, the Arts and Sciences Council formed a committee to study diversity within the college. Its projects to foster increased conversations are still in “planning stages,” she said. However, the college has begun to incorporate more implicit bias workshops for new faculty and the Dean’s staff. Trinity will also sponsor a yearlong celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Samuel Dubois Cook Society, which works to promote African American advancement at the University.

5. An Asian American studies working group will be created: 

Several student groups presented administrators with a demand for the creation of an Asian-American Studies major at the second community forum last year. Ashby announced in her address that a group of students and faculty will work this semester to “assess and propose ideas for Asian American Studies at Duke.” Two independent scholars will come to campus to assist with the process.

Administrators may use a similar process to address other student group demands, she noted.