The Sanford School of Public Policy announced Jay Pearson, H.M. Foundation associate professor of public policy, as the inaugural associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion. He will assume the role on Jan. 1.
Pearson, as part of the school's Senior Leadership Group, will work to ensure Sanford “embraces all its members and educates leaders prepared to engage policy problems with a keen understanding of systemic racism and other manifestations of structural inequality,” per the release.
In the release, Sanford Dean Judith Kelley expressed that the new position comes at a critical time for Sanford’s development.
“This role is important for our school and our entire community to continue to grow together,” Kelley said in the release. “Our Sanford community has invested itself greatly in diversity, equity and inclusion, but the work is ongoing. Jay’s has been part of our efforts going back more than eight years, and his expertise and leadership are vital for our continued growth in equity and excellence.”
Pearson earned his bachelor’s at North Carolina Central University, a master’s of public health at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his doctorate at the University of Michigan. His research and teaching has focused on how socioeconomic drivers affect health outcomes.
Pearson co-founded Sanford’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion in 2013 along with Kathryn Whetten, professor of public policy and global health. The committee has since been renamed the Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Jon Abels, chief operating officer for the Duke Center for International Development, and Mallory SoRelle, assistant professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy, now co-chair the committee.
Before his career in public health, Pearson was a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras as a child survival health specialist, training midwives and healthcare workers. He continued his efforts in health training and education when he worked with the East Coast Migrant Health Project. Following his work there, he became the assistant director of a National Institute of Health-funded research study where he led data collection in an ethnically diverse community in Detroit.
Pearson is also a faculty research scholar at the Duke Global Health Institute’s Population Research Center.
Sanford will also hire a director to “support the work” of the DEI office. Sanford recently hired a student wellness and engagement coordinator and works with students and faculty members to collaborate on ways to develop DEI at Duke, according to the release.
According to WittKieffer, a global executive search and leadership advisory firm, the Duke Law School is also currently seeking to hire an associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion. The Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and the Pratt School of Engineering do not currently have associate deans of diversity, equity and inclusion.
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Olivia Kim is a Trinity first-year and a staff reporter of The Chronicle's 118th volume.