Roth focuses on communication

The voice mail message of incoming Dean of Social Sciences Susan Roth says she will be on sabbatical until September--but it isn't true.


        It was until about a month ago, when Roth, professor of psychology and former chair of Psychology: Social and Health Sciences, was first tapped by the future Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences George McLendon to take on the role of a divisional dean. His offer of a permanent administrative position at the University was appealing to Roth, who has worked at Duke since 1973.


        But despite her eagerness about her new position, she had not planned for this a year ago when she went on sabbatical--and her outdated message is a testament to this fact.


        "I'll be starting [as dean] in July," Roth said. "Right now, I'm finishing up some writing projects with a graduate student of mine."


        Nonetheless, her current work has not stopped her from already thinking ahead to what she plans to do once dean of social sciences.


        "I've begun to think about new projects for the future--new projects that are not ready for prime-time yet," she said.


        The broader goal Roth hopes to attain during her tenure as dean is to continue to encourage interdisciplinary cooperation across the social sciences departments. She foresees connecting aspects of sociology, psychology, race, ethnicity and gender to current projects already in place and new projects within the division.


        "There are a lot of exciting things that are going on in the social sciences that potentially have a relationship with each other and will bring people together in order to more effectively use the resources available at Duke," she said. "Getting people around the table and talking to one another is something I'd like to get started on as soon as possible."


        Roth said her prior experiences and broad interests have prepared her for becoming dean and "will help enhance the interdisciplinary efforts that really are the Duke signature."


        In addition to holding dual appointments in the departments of psychology and women's studies, Roth also knows how the central administration works. She chaired the executive committee of both the Women's Initiative and the provost's Women's Faculty Development Task Force, served on the provost's Task Force for Faculty Diversity and was a special assistant to the provost.


        Robyn Wiegman, Margaret Taylor Smith director of women's studies, commended Roth's leadership on the Women's Initiative and her ability to be an excellent mentor of younger scholars and administrators at the University.


        "[She] has proven herself as an administrator at Duke for many years," Wiegman said. "She is institutionally savvy and a generous colleague; she knows how to lead groups through their intellectual and political differences."


        Outgoing Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences Karla Holloway said she is happy to step down from the deanship and has high hopes for the "stellar new team" of divisional deans that McLendon has appointed. After five years in the position of being a divisional dean, Holloway's most important advice she can offer her successors is "to know their faculties very very well."


        "I have served longer than my initial contract agreement and [McLendon's decision to appoint new deans] was based in part on the understanding that I would not want to continue in that position," she said. "I am fully confident that the new deans will discern for themselves what are the significant and critical issues in the humanities and in the social sciences."


        McLendon noted that one of the most important challenges he foresees during his tenure as arts and sciences dean will be to continue to build on the good work Holloway and her colleagues have initiated in order to continue to move Duke higher in the pantheon of universities.


        "There are of course many excellent candidates among so distinguished a faculty," McLendon said. "I am delighted that such distinguished colleagues would agree to serve the University, our faculty and students this way."


Share and discuss “Roth focuses on communication” on social media.