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V.P. Dickson plans Stanford return

Vice President for Institutional Equity Sally Dickson will become the latest high-level administrator to depart the University when she returns to Stanford University this summer as vice provost for faculty development and associate dean of humanities and sciences.

"As many people know, I was at Stanford for 12 years. I have my family there," Dickson said. "I was approached by Stanford with an opportunity to be reunited with my family and also to continue the work that I have been involved with for most of my professional career."

Dickson said she is excited to continue her work in establishing workforce and classroom equality, especially in terms of race. When she returns to Stanford, one of her duties will be to ensure diversity in recruitment.

"What Stanford is very interested in doing is looking at how they can better create a pipeline for recruitment, both of graduate students of color and faculty of color," she noted.

Dickson said she will retain fond memories of Duke and the Durham community she has called home for three years.

"I will miss working with [President] Nan [Keohane], senior administrators and also many of the staff here - I have really enjoyed working with them," she said. "I will miss the rich, rich African-American culture here - the history of the Southeast can't be replicated."

The Office of Institutional Equity, which Dickson heads, exists to advance and sustain an environment of internal equity, diversity and inclusiveness. Much of OIE's work consists of handling complaints regarding racial, ethnic or gender discrimination.

After clashing with the federal government in the past, the University has become compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act under Dickson's watch. Dickson has also been at the forefront of communicating promotional opportunities and professional development opportunities to employees of color.

"I hope that, in general, people view me as one of the people who really advanced Duke's commitment to diversity," she said.

During her first stint at Stanford, from 1988 to 2000, Dickson served as associate dean of student affairs at the School of Law, director of the Office for Multicultural Development and later, director of campus relations - a post that dealt with a variety of issues, including multicultural development and sexual harassment policy.

When Keohane commented on Duke's new vice president for institutional equity in 1999, she noted that through her vision and experience at Stanford, Dickson had proven her commitment to inclusiveness, diversity and respect.

Those who worked with Dickson at Stanford remembered her as an energetic woman dedicated to the enhancement of diversity on campus.

"Sally was much loved at Stanford," said Associate Provost at Stanford Stephanie Kalfayan. "I worked with her when she was here, and I have missed her approach to solving difficult problems as well as her good humor."

Now, as Dickson turns back to California, administrators at Duke say they will warmly look back on her short though effective tenure.

"She has been a wise source of counsel to me as we've worked to create a campus that is diverse and free of discrimination," Keohane said in a statement. "Whether the issue has been gender equity, work culture, affirmative action policies or something as specific as finding the right person for a particular job, Sally has been an essential member of our team."

Dickson said she hopes and believes the University's commitment to diversity will not wane in her absence.

"All institutions have to think of [diversity] as another way of demonstrating our excellence," she said. "I think many people here are committed to that and I have no reason to believe work will not continue in that area, both in terms of attracting and retaining faculty and students."

Dickson's exit comes in the wake of the announced departures of Keohane, Health System Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ralph Snyderman, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences William Chafe, Vice President for Financial Services Michael Mandl, Assistant Vice President for Administration Dan Rodas, Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Services Joe Pietrantoni and Director of Facilities Management Jerry Black.

She said, however, that the departures of the other administrators had nothing to do with her decision to leave the University. At the end of the day, the prospect of returning home was too good for Dickson to pass up.

Meanwhile, Stanford is welcoming back a familiar face.

"I am just delighted that Sally is returning," said Stanford Provost John Etchemendy. "She knows our community well and will play a key role in our efforts to enhance diversity."

In her new post, Dickson will report to the vice provost for faculty development and the dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences.

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