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Price addresses main challenges with anti-racism efforts at Academic Council meeting

Administrators gave updates on Duke’s anti-racism initiatives at the Academic Council’s November meeting on Thursday. 

President Vincent Price outlined four principle challenges regarding moving forward and making progress in Duke’s anti-racism initiative, which he also listed in an interview with The Chronicle last week: communication to keep the community informed about anti-racism efforts, coordination across diverse units and departments, data gathering and assessment and ensuring accountability throughout the organization to hold the University’s leaders accountable for progress.

Abbas Benmamoun, vice provost for faculty advancement, said that his office focuses on three main areas: diversifying faculty hiring for increased excellence; bolstering faculty development to ensure that they can thrive and feel supported; and promoting a climate, culture and community that drives excellence and inclusivity.

Benmamoun said that the University has had an initiative to increase the diversity of faculty. He said that in the past three years, the number of Black faculty at Duke has increased from around 66 to over 80. He noted that although progress is slow, they are working to sustain it and have recently received funding from the Duke endowment to support the efforts.

He added that Sherilynn Black, associate vice provost for faculty advancement, and Charmaine Royal, professor of African and African American studies, biology and global health as well as family medicine and community health, will be leading a new curriculum on anti-racism for faculty, which will be launched in January. Faculty who participate will receive certification at the end.

Benmamoun said that the office is also providing feedback for individual schools, which have been working on their own anti-racism plans. He echoed Price’s message on accountability, noting that they are tracking faculty demographics and other data from surveys.

In other business

The council also voted to pass revisions to Duke’s Data Licensing Policy from October’s meeting.

Administrators discussed the spring semester, including contingency plans if cases are higher than expected, and the success of the fall semester’s testing program.  

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