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Duke taps Reese as new OIE V.P.

President Nan Keohane appointed Benjamin Reese last week to succeed Sally Dickson as vice president for institutional equity on an interim basis until Dec. 2004.

Among his major goals, Reese said he will work to devote attention to employees and staff members who may have previously lacked access to promotional and professional development opportunities. He said he also looks forward to pursuing the leadership role of the Office of Institutional Equity on diversity initiatives and responding to the upcoming report on the recruitment and retention of minority faculty.

Reese, assistant vice president for cross-cultural relations since 1996, said OIE is at a crucial and challenging point in its efforts to promote diversity and equity at the University.

"We've made significant gains in the whole area of diversity and equity and equal opportunity at Duke," he said. "As is often the case with organizational change, when you get into those secondary and tertiary stages... the road gets tougher."

Dickson, who is departing to take a position at Stanford University, said the job of vice president for institutional equity is difficult because it has immense jurisdiction, serving the entire University and Health System. As a result, a key part of the job is determining priorities.

"It's very important to look at the resources that are available - identifying allies and identifying those areas in which you can really make a difference," Dickson said. "There are so many things that one can do, and one is called upon to have priorities."

Reese has spent 30 years as a consultant on issues relating to race relations, diversity and conflict resolution and was professionally trained as a psychologist. He said he will draw upon these two occupational experiences to prepare for his new role.

"By temperament and training as a psychologist and a diversity practitioner, I think I'm a good listener," he said. "I pride myself on being able to understand multiple perspectives, whether they are influenced by cultural background, gender or life experience. I think that my work as a psychologist will result in me thinking about systems as well as individuals in a more focused way."

During his tenure as assistant vice president, Reese helped create a diversity initiative at Perkins Library, developed a diversity planning guide for managers and worked extensively with the Medical Center on several projects.

"Ben has successfully led a number of important initiatives at Duke, and he will provide strong leadership for the Office of Institutional Equity and the University as a whole as we advance our efforts to build a community that is rich in diversity and respects the contributions of all of its members," Keohane said in a statement.

Those who work with Reese praised his thoughtfulness and ability to work with others in a collaborative manner.

"Ben brings with him a deep sense for diversity issues and thoughtfulness with respect to problem solving," said Cynthia Clinton, director of harassment prevention and special projects for OIE.

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