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Longtime A&S dean to return to teaching

William Chafe, dean of the faculty of arts and sciences and vice provost for undergraduate education, will step down from his positions June 30, 2004, to resume teaching and research, The Chronicle learned Sunday.

Chafe notified department chairs and members of the Trinity College Board of Visitors this weekend and notified President Nan Keohane and Provost Peter Lange earlier last week. After his customary summer getaway to Maine next year, Chafe will return to the history department he came to 32 years ago.

"We are indebted to Bill for his leadership in Arts and Sciences," Keohane said in a statement released Sunday evening. "He has accomplished a great deal for the University, and we are delighted he will return to the Duke faculty."

As dean of the faculty, Chafe authorizes faculty searches for each department, oversees maintaining the Arts and Sciences budget, allocates space for departments, and implements the strategic direction of Arts and Sciences.

"For me, this has been an exciting, challenging and rewarding time--and a period of significant movement forward for Arts and Sciences," Chafe said in a letter.

"I actually decided last August [to step down]. I think because basically I felt we had accomplished most of what we wanted to accomplish," he added in an interview Sunday night.

Chafe's tenure has seen the creation of the John Hope Franklin Center for interdisciplinary research in the humanities, the Center for Child and Family Policy in the Sanford Institute of Public Policy, and implementation of the new Curriculum 2000 for Trinity undergraduates. He has also been one of the University's most prolific fundraisers, headlining the division's $400 million portion of the capital campaign.

"[In the next 13 months,] we're going to try to improve Curriculum 2000--we're trying to do whatever we can to make an inclusive campus environment more a reality and move forward aggressively with our faculty initiatives in genomics and in the art project with the warehouses, and our effort to balance growth in the sciences with sustaining the humanities and social sciences," Chafe said.

As vice provost, Chafe has also had a firm hand in reshaping many of the policies that will affect the undergraduate experience for years to come. Before the arrival of Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta, Chafe was the architect of the new residential life plan that created an independent corridor and mandated that all sophomores live on West Campus. The plan has been credited with making the campus more diverse.

Chafe has also been involved in efforts to project and more effectively communicate the strength of Duke's intellectual life in selling the school to potential students. He has also championed the recruitment of students outside the traditional New England, private school circuit.

"Part of his legacy is going to be the institutionalization of a diverse student body," said Christoph Guttentag, director of undergraduate admissions. "His commitment to diversity is decades-long.... I've always felt his commitment to a student body that's really vibrant and engaged and thoughtful has been very strong."

Some professors have criticized Chafe for his performance as dean of the faculty, however, including the cutting of faculty in the Department of Biological Anthropology and Anatomy and his handling of complaints of sexual harassment in the physics department.

The announcement will leave the administration with a glaring hole at a time when several other key leaders have also announced their intentions to step down.

Chafe's successor will likely focus on accomplishing science faculty hires, finding a long-term solution to the Arts and Sciences budget deficit and shuffling departments that need new space when several capital projects--including the French Science Center and the Nasher Museum of Art--are completed.

"I think we should focus now on Dean Chafe's accomplishments and his intentions," Lange said in an e-mail. "There'll be plenty of time to discuss the search and what we might be looking for in his successor."

A Boston native, the 61-year-old Chafe graduated from Harvard College before earning his doctorate in American history from Columbia University. After teaching for one year at Vassar College, he came to Duke in 1971 and almost immediately became one of the most visible faculty members on campus.

Also an Alice Mary Baldwin distinguished professor of history, Chafe is one of the leading scholars of 20th century American history, particularly the civil rights movement and race and gender equality. A student favorite when he taught in the 1970s and 1980s, Chafe has written books on the changing social and economic roles of American women following suffrage, the sit-in movement in North Carolina, post-World War II American history and liberal intellectual Allard Lowenstein.

His initial foray in administration came as chair of the history department from 1990 to 1995. Since 1995, he has served as dean of the faculty. From 1997 to 1999, he also served as dean of Trinity College. Chafe was a finalist for the Williams College presidency in 1999, but he pulled out of the race at the last moment.

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