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Site unifies Duke diversity pushes

Learning from the ideas of others is an important part of diversity.

The University demonstrated this in the creation of a new Web site that seeks to outline some of the diversity efforts underway at Duke.

The idea was proposed by Paula McClain, a political science professor, who became the first black chair of Academic Council this year. McClain, who taught at the University of Virginia for 10 years, said she was impressed that Virginia maintained a permanent Web site on diversity and approached Provost Peter Lange about undertaking a similar project at Duke.

"A Web site of this nature would allow Duke to showcase in one dedicated site the many, many efforts at various types of diversity that are ongoing at Duke," she wrote in an e-mail. "It puts the issue of diversity as a central facet of the University."

The Web site went live this summer and became fully accessible in August.

Although the project is still a work in progress, it will soon include profiles of a faculty member, staff member, trustee, alumnus, undergraduate student and graduate student who embody diversity. Other new concepts are still being considered.

The Virginia site, for example, includes downloadable podcasts and a video narrated by former Virginia football star Tiki Barber.

"We have talked about those things but we decided we couldn't do them right off the bat," said Nancy Allen, vice provost for faculty diversity and faculty development and chair of the committee that worked to create the site.

Lange said he was receptive to the idea because he felt it would provide a forum for interaction.

"It makes it a live issue rather than a passive issue," Lange said. "We can put in information on an active basis."

He formed the committee to begin the task of creating a site in November 2006. Committee members said they viewed the proposal as a valuable opportunity to highlight Duke diversity initiatives such as the Women's Initiative and Faculty Diversity Initiative.

"Several of us had been talking for quite a while about the need to better focus and coordinate diversity efforts around the institution, and this was an obvious effort," said Ben Reese, vice president for institutional equity.

Allen said the Web site will create a positive image of the University for outside interest.

"It can be a place where prospective students and parents can find out more information in this broad field of diversity," she said.

Reese added that the site will also be useful for current members of the Duke community.

"For an internal audience I think it provides valuable information that can be used to stimulate creative thinking and strategies," he said. "Hopefully individuals and departments will use our current efforts as a springboard."

Other committee members said they hoped that students could contribute to the continuing development of the site.

"I think that the best way to get the ideas into making this a truly useful site is for students and faculty to offer their ideas and input," said Jacqueline Looney, associate vice provost for academic diversity.


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