Paula McClain, chosen to lead the Graduate School, will be the first black dean of a Duke school, the University announced Tuesday.
McClain, a professor of political science, has served on the Duke faculty since 2000. A nine-member committee chaired by physics professor Calvin Howell conducted the search that advised Provost Peter Lange and President Richard Brodhead. She will begin her appointment July 1, according to a Duke news release.
McClain follows Former Graduate School Dean Jo Rae Wright, who held the position from 2006 to 2011, when she stepped down from the position in October. Wright passed away from breast cancer in January.
McClain, whose research focuses on political and social competition among racial minority groups, is co-director of Duke’s Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences. She served as the chair of Academic Council from 2007 to 2009. She has sat on additional various high-level University committees, including chairing the Appointments, Promotions and Tenure Committee. She has also led Duke’s Ralph Bunche Summer Institute since 1995.
“She was an outstanding chair of the Appointments, Promotions and Tenure committee and an exemplary chair of the Academic Council. She has been an excellent mentor of graduate students and her contributions to building a diverse and inclusive community have been invaluable,” Lange said in the release. “As dean, she will provide outstanding leadership in a period of great opportunities and significant challenges in graduate education.”
McClain holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in political science from Howard University. Before joining the Duke faculty, she held academic positions at Arizona State University, the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and the University of Virginia.