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Duke receives $4 million for African, Asian American and Latinx studies faculty

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A $4 million grant from the Duke Endowment will bring new faculty members with expertise in African, Asian American and Latinx studies to the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences. 

Starting in Fall 2020, up to six new junior- to senior-level faculty members will join Trinity College faculty, according to a news release. Valerie Ashby, dean of Trinity College, told Duke Today that the grant “will accelerate the hiring of outstanding faculty to meet the demand for these disciplines.”

“Our students observed that while there is much opportunity for the study of culture at Duke, some perspectives are largely absent or not presented in terms of their deep interconnectedness with other parts of the world,” she said.

Ashby did not respond to requests for comment from The Chronicle.

The gift enables students to engage with faculty and students of different life experiences, wrote Susan McConnell, director of higher education and director of human resources of the Duke Endowment, in an email. That effort “will enhance the academic experience” and makes students “better prepared to live in a globalized world.”

Kerry Haynie, associate professor of political science and chair of Academic Council, added that the grant will improve the diversity of viewpoints in teaching and research. 

“If successful, the initiative will likely have the added benefit of bringing more racial and ethnic diversity to our campus,” Haynie wrote. “Enhancing this type of global perspective diversity has long been a strategic goal of the university. Being a global university means more than sending faculty and students out into the world to learn and engage.”

He pointed to the Faculty Diversity Task Force Report, an Academic Council report compiled in 2015, which “recognized the value of having a variety of global perspectives and world-views among the faculty.” And because of their findings, Haynie believes faculty will support the hiring initiative.

The objective of the grant relates to the long-standing issue of faculty of color searching for identity-specific support on college campuses nationwide. Often, it is the faculty of color who are spearheading the effort to recruit more faculty members from diverse backgrounds, Haynie explained.

“These days most university strategic plans will include language about valuing and desiring diversity, but many institutions have been unwilling to devote sufficient financial and human resources to achieve their stated diversity goals,” he wrote. 

The result of that situation, Haynie explained, is “the trappings of diversity without a meaningful university diversity apparatus”—faculty of color often do most of the work bringing in more diverse colleagues while others receive the recognition for these faculty members’ efforts. 

“Responsibility for diversity has to sit at the highest levels of the university,” he wrote. 

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