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Arts & Sciences Council holds first meeting of year, hears from interim Trinity dean

<p>The Arts &amp; Sciences Council at their first meeting of the academic year.</p>

The Arts & Sciences Council at their first meeting of the academic year.

Arts & Sciences Council heard an update from Trinity’s Curriculum Development Committee and from interim Trinity Dean Mohamed Noor during its first meeting of the academic year on Thursday. The Council also discussed its bylaws and committee structure.

After former Dean Valerie Ashby left Duke in June to become president at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Noor began his one-year term as her interim replacement.

Noor said that he anticipates “upholding all decisions made during Valerie Ashby's tenure” as the search for her permanent replacement continues. His work will be guided by the principles of continuity, strengthening community and team-based decision-making, which means relying on Trinity’s senior leadership and its faculty for direction.  

Continuity, Noor said, involves emphasizing the council’s commitments to “advancing excellence in teaching, research and service, fostering diversity and inclusion as a means of achieving excellence and elevating leadership and mentoring.”

As part of strengthening community, Noor wants to “support any efforts to reengage the campus community” to have more meaningful connections. 

Noor added that supporting graduate students is an important part of his community initiative. He called upon Council members to help find ways to “alleviate graduate students’ burdens.”

“Many [graduate students] have been struggling through the pandemic because of lost connections, increased cost of living, things like that,” Noor said.

Earlier this week, the Duke Graduate Students Union rallied on Labor Day, demanding a $40,000 stipend pay floor to help with Durham's rising costs of living

Scott Huettel, professor in the department of psychology and neuroscience and chair of the Curriculum Development Committee, presented the Committee’s update.

During the fall semester, the Committee aims to meet with different stakeholders in the process of developing a new curriculum, including faculty who teach large classes, the Academic Advising Center, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the Career Center. Discussions about curricular content will start in the spring.

Revising bylaws

Professor of Physics Joshua Socolar, chair of the Council, facilitated the discussion of bylaws. He said in a previous meeting that a review of the current bylaws revealed that a considerable number of rules and procedures need revising. 

Currently, Council members serve three-year terms. Socolar proposed that they shift to one-year terms to avoid administrative hassle for when faculty members take leave, go on sabbatical or get elected to a three-year term on the Council’s Executive Committee in the middle of their existing appointment.

Faculty had concerns about whether shifting to one-year terms would affect continuity on the Council. Socolar responded saying that one-year terms do not prohibit departments and other units from reappointing the same person for consecutive terms. 

Two committees that have not been active for the past several years are the Budget Committee and the Technology Advisory Committee, according to Socolar. 

“Nobody has complained to me that they're missing the information that would have been provided through those committees,” he said. Faculty asked Socolar to look into the history of these committees and why they no longer are active.

Socolar proposed that the Council meet in-person for the majority of the year to promote discussion between members; however, faculty asked to keep virtual attendance a regular option.

In other business

The Council presented teaching awards to four faculty members. 

Kusum Knapczyk, lecturer of Hindi language of Asian and Middle Eastern studies, was given the Richard K. Lublin Award for teaching in the humanities. The Howard D. Johnson award for excellence in teaching in the social sciences was given to Anne-Maria Makhulu, associate professor in the department of cultural anthropology. The David and Janet Vaughan Brooks Award was given to Thomas Newpher, assistant professor of the practice of psychology and neuroscience, for excellence in teaching in the natural sciences. The Robert B. Cox Award was given to Carol Apollonio, professor of the practice of Slavic and Eurasian studies, for overall excellence in undergraduate teaching.


Adway S. Wadekar | University News Editor

Adway S. Wadekar is a Trinity sophomore and a university news editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume. He has also contributed to the sports section.

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