Paula McClain is a professor of political science and public policy, dean of the Graduate School and vice provost for graduate education. She is a major figure in the study of race and ethnic politics, serves as a leader in university and disciplinary administration and combines her passionate commitment with adherence to the highest standards of excellence. 

Paula brought with her to Duke the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute, a program to help minority undergraduate students think about and become more prepared for graduate school. The Bunche program is recognized as the leading such program in the nation. She also established the race and ethnic politics theme field in political science based on principles espoused by Ralph Bunche, Nobel Laureate for Peace, lifelong civil rights activist and former president of the American Political Science Association. She is now the incoming president of that association herself. 

Dean McClain is known for her fervent advocacy for minority and women’s rights. Her students quickly learn that passion is not enough, and that she holds them to the highest standards of ethics and of research. But then she asks no less of herself.

John Aldrich is the Pfizer, Inc./Edmund T. Pratt, Jr. University professor of political science.

Editor's note: This profile is part of our annual initiative called The Chron15. We are highlighting 15 people and groups who are defining what it means to be at Duke this year. Read about the project and more of our selections.