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In with the new: Duke's top five administrative changes this summer

Individual photos courtesy of Duke Today
Individual photos courtesy of Duke Today

The beginning of July brings with it a handful of new Duke administrators. 

Among these personnel changes are three new female University deans assuming their roles, making it eight out of the ten positions that are now held by women.

In January, The Chronicle profiled the notable administrators who were leaving Duke. Here is a rundown of the five biggest position changes coming into effect this summer.

Vice president for Durham and regional affairs

The University announced in January that Phail Wynn would be stepping down from the position effective June 30. Wynn, who was the first to hold the job when it was created in 2007, was influential in pushing Duke to have an increased physical presence downtown. 

Wynn will be replaced by Stelfanie Williams, Trinity '98 and president of Vance-Granville Community College. But this is not just a personnel change—the administration is shortening the position's title to vice president for Durham affairs.

Williams has been involved in higher education in the state for more than 20 years and was named "President of the Year" by the North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges in 2011. She received an undergraduate degree in Spanish and public policy from Duke before going on to earn a master's degree and a doctorate from Western Carolina University and N.C. State, respectively.

Williams will become the vice president for Durham affairs effective August 13.

“It is an honor to return to my alma mater as a member of President Price’s leadership team, serving as vice president for Durham affairs and building on the fine work of Phail Wynn and the staff,” Williams said in the press release announcing her appointment in May.

Vice provost for undergraduate education

Steve Nowicki stepped down from his administrative role to return to teaching June 30, walking away from a position he was the first to hold in 2007. His tenure as dean and vice provost for undergraduate education saw the beginning of the FLUNCH program and his annual convocation speech to the incoming class.

Nowicki was replaced by Gary Bennett, founding director of Duke’s undergraduate major in global health, effective July 1. Bennett, like Nowicki, comes from a science background. He is the Bishop-MacDermott Family professor of psychology and neuroscience, global health and medicine.

"Our undergraduates are the heart of this university,” Bennett said in the April release that announced his appointment. “I am honored to have the opportunity to imagine new ways to shape their scholarly development and personal growth.”

Dean of Duke Law School

Then-Dean David Levi announced last summer he was stepping down from his role with the Duke Law School. Levi became dean in 2007, and oversaw an increase from $5 million to $15 million in the school's financial aid allotment and expansion of the faculty.

Levi will be replaced by Karen "Kerry" Abrams, who is coming to Duke from the University of Virginia, where she is the vice provost for faculty affairs and professor of law. Abrams took over at Duke July 1, becoming the new James B. Duke and Benjamin N. Duke dean of the School of Law.

“She is a renowned scholar, a passionate advocate for students and faculty and a deeply engaged citizen of the university who will advance Duke Law School’s already exemplary record of leadership and service to society," President Vincent Price said in the release announcing her appointment in February.

Dean of Sanford School of Public Policy

Kelly Brownell, who has been the dean of Sanford for five years, stepped away from the role to head up the school's new World Food Policy Center. 

Judith Kelley, Terry Sanford professor of public policy, will succeed Brownell. Kelley earned her undergraduate degree from Stanford before heading to Harvard for her M.P.P. and Ph.D. in public policy. Kelley's academic work focuses on democracy, human rights and international elections.

"Her detailed knowledge of the Sanford School’s great strengths, and even greater opportunities for the future, will position Duke at the forefront of policy schools," Price said in the January release announcing her appointment.

Dean of Nicholas School of the Environment

Jeffrey Vincent, Clarence F. Korstian professor of forest economics and management, served as interim dean of the school since the resignation of former dean Alan Townsend. Vincent was officially replaced by Toddi Steelman, Ph.D. '96, July 1.

Steelman, the first permanent executive director at the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Environment and Sustainability, is the next Stanback dean of the Nicholas School. She earned her Ph.D. from the school and returns after serving as a faculty member at N.C. State and the University of Colorado at Denver. Steelman is an expert on wildfires.

"She has a rare combination of scholarly achievement and successful leadership in environmental education and research that will only accelerate the Nicholas School’s great momentum in focusing on perhaps the defining issues of our time," Price said in the January announcement.

Bre Bradham

Bre is a senior political science major from South Carolina, and she is the current video editor, special projects editor and recruitment chair for The Chronicle. She is also an associate photography editor and an investigations editor. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief and local and national news department head. 

Twitter: @brebradham



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