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Newly elected Academic Council Chair Kerry Haynie looks ahead at two-year term

Special to the Chronicle
Special to the Chronicle

With a new academic year coming up, there will be a new chair of the Academic Council—Kerry Haynie. 

Haynie, associate professor of political science and African and African American studies, has had a long career in academia. Haynie was chosen to succeed Don Taylor, the current chair of Academic Council and a professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy, in a closed ballot vote by the council earlier this semester.

Haynie earned his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is the director of Duke’s Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences. Haynie has served on the Academic Council for several terms and on its executive committee.

Haynie's primary goal in the position is to be “an effective communicator of the faculty interests to the administration and trustees and vice versa." He also noted that a "growing need for financial aid" will be a challenge going forward. 

The incoming chair noted the challenge of being mindful when speaking for the large group of faculty. 

"My goal is to be effective in speaking for the faculty at large," he said.

Haynie said that he chose to enter academia because of the flexibility and independence the field allowed him. 

“Being in academia allows you to be your own boss," he said. "I get to choose my subject matter, my research, my topics, my agenda and when I teach."

Coming into the position, Haynie is committed to “making sure there is a faculty voice and presence in the decision making of the university and to make sure that faculty are informed on matters that are of faculty interest."  

As a faculty governance body, there are also dynamics to balance within the group.

“The relationship among faculty on the Academic Council is very collaborative, cooperative and supportive. We all recognize that we are on the same team even when we do not always agree. The administration has understood that the faculty wants the best for Duke, and the faculty understands that the administration is acting in the best interests of Duke," Haynie said. "There is quite a bit of trust and respect in both directions, which makes the difficult conversations easier to have when that trust and respect is established.”

Haynie said there is a strong relationship between faculty, administrators and the Board of Trustees that provides a solid foundation to build from. That cooperative relationship has contributed to the growth of Duke as a world-class university, he said.

But he noted that it is not always smooth.

"That isn’t to gloss over the the disagreements and challenges," he said. "We’ve had to work through those. The creation of [Duke-Kunshan University] was first met with resistance and skepticism by faculty that led to years of faculty-administration conversations of what DKU would be and how it would operate. Over years of discussions, faculty got on board. It’s a good example of administration taking faculty into account before making a decision.”

Haynie has known his predecessor, Taylor, for quite some time. 

“We both went to UNC [for undergraduate] and so we had that shared experience, though we didn’t meet until later. Mike Munger, who taught me at UNC, introduced us. At Duke, Kerry and I have served on several University-wide committees together, including a year of overlap on the Executive Committee of the Academic Council back in 2013," Taylor stated. "Kerry is one of my favorite golfing partners, so we spend a fair amount of time together away from work. He is not only a colleague of mine, but a good friend.” 

When speaking about Haynie’s strengths, Taylor explained that his friend is "comfortable in his own skin."

“Kerry is a truth-teller who grants others the benefit of the doubt, and who has an acute ability to focus on the problem or issue at hand and not let other issues cloud the discussion and reaching a decision," Taylor stated. "He also has an infectious laugh, and the ability to use it at just the right time when things are getting tense in meetings."

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