Armed with an extensive background in social justice, education and law, Jeanna McCullers has brought collaborative leadership and a focus on restorative justice to her role as director of the Office of Student Conduct.
OSC is responsible for investigating reported infractions of the Duke Community Standard, which can include anything from sexual misconduct to academic dishonesty. McCullers hopes to shape the office through her experience with and emphasis on fostering restorative practices, adaptable conflict resolution models and transparency on the part of the University.
McCullers said that she is committed to teamwork and believes that having an administrative vision does not imply that one has all the administrative answers. She said that as the new director of the OSC, she wants to encourage student involvement and help improve the reputation that OSC has in the Duke community and beyond.
“We have lots of ideals. We're prioritizing those ideals, we're trying to figure out where we don't need to reinvent the wheel but where we can partner with others,” McCullers said. “Also, we want to have students lead the initiatives that they're excited about leading.”
Associate Dean of Students Victoria Krebs wrote in an email that McCullers works “tirelessly” to provide a wide variety of options for students to learn from and resolve matters in OSC.
“This year has been so difficult in many ways, yet Dean McCullers has managed to make significant improvements to our office while responding to increased caseloads with fewer staff members,” Krebs wrote.
She added that OSC has become the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards “to better reflect our mission and vision.”
Prior to her appointment at Duke, McCullers served as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s first officer for Title IX and bias incident management. McCullers first joined Duke’s OSC in 2017 and was selected as director June 1, 2020 after several rounds of evaluation by a national search committee.
Since McCullers took over, OSC has focused on programs that promote student compliance with campus rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. One such initiative is a video that OSC created in partnership with University Center Activities and Events.
Additionally, McCullers advocated for the addition of a suggestions tab to the OSC website. The tab features a form that members of the Duke community can use to send feedback to OSC.
“We want to help engage students. We want to partner with students on a host of issues.” McCullers said. “We're not just reactive, totalitarian monsters.”
In an email, Associate Dean of Students Clay Adams described McCullers’ approach to leading OSC as “both collaborative and restorative, looking to engage the community and seeing the mission of the office as one that aligns with the institution both educationally and developmentally.”
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McCullers said that her goals for OSC can be traced back to her extensive involvement with social justice work prior to attending the Thurgood Marshall School of Law. She decided to attend law school as a way to continue working with grassroots social justice organizations in her community.
“I really enjoy being on the ground, the hard work—whether that's with community members, citizens or students—thinking through policies, practices, processes, structures, institutions, and how from within we make them better for everyone, including myself, as a staff member,” sher said.