Duke Racial Equity Advisory Council Releases First Year Report and Provides Subcommittee Progress and Goals

Nearly two years after President Vincent Price committed Duke to new plans to address systemic racism and inequality, the Racial Equity Advisory Council has released its first annual report to the Duke community.

In a Wednesday email to all Duke staff, faculty, and students, the board co-chairs provided updates on the progress of the four subcommittees over the past year and outlines their planned work for next year.

The REAC is an advisory body to the University’s executive leadership “for the purpose of operationalizing and coordinating the key concepts articulated by the President in his June 19 message on anti-racism,” according to the REAC website. .

The email said Duke has an obligation to “actively dismantle” the lingering impacts of the racist legacy resulting from “our location in the southern United States and our history as an institution that has systematically excluded black Americans the opportunity to learn and teach at Duke until the 1960s.”

The co-chairs provided updates from the four REAC subcommittees: communications, campus climate and assessment, education, and infrastructure and policy.

Communications Sub-Committee

The Communications Subcommittee, co-chaired by Mark Anthony Neal, James B. Duke, Distinguished Professor of African and African American Studies, and Rob Odom, Director of Marketing and Communications and Vice President of Duke University Health System, is charged with helping to create “transparency and awareness of information gleaned” from both the 2021 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Climate Survey and Duke’s response.

The email said the subcommittee had five main areas of focus for the next year, including collecting personal stories about the lived experiences of members of the Duke community, updating the website on racial equity, defining the relationship between “promoting racial equity and Duke’s values,” creating and managing feedback channels to “support the resolution of comments and concerns related to race and racial equity,” and establish a timeline for communicating racial equity work.

Campus Climate and Evaluation Subcommittee

The campus climate and evaluation subcommittee, co-chaired by Sherilynn Black, associate vice provost for faculty advancement, and professor of statistical science Merlise Clyde, was tasked with helping to distribute the campus climate survey.

The survey was designed to “identify areas of concern and priorities as we move forward in our racial equity work,” according to the campus survey’s website.

“The results of our first climate survey on diversity, equity and inclusion reinforce the importance of addressing the challenges faced by black people and other underrepresented members of our community, particularly with regard to the hiring, opportunities for professional growth and advancement, and their lived experiences on campus,” the email read.

REAC plans to “repeat and refine” the survey in future years to continue to track progress and “hold administrators accountable for creating a more welcoming, supportive and just environment now and in the future,” indicates the website.

Additionally, the Campus Climate and Evaluation Subcommittee worked with the Office for Faculty Advancement and the Office for Institutional Equity to host two full-day retreats for space leaders. administrative and academic institutions in order to “engage in a ‘deep dive’ with institutional climate data,” the email read.

Campus climate and assessment subcommittee focal points in year two include cataloging locally developed “survey instruments” to share with Duke leaders, developing a handbook for “best practices” for developing surveys, developing and conducting pay equity analyses, including reviewing retentions and promotions, and creating a toolkit to “help local leaders to translate survey data into measurable actions, including helping to interpret survey results while taking local context into account.”

Education Sub-Committee

The Education Subcommittee, co-chaired by Leigh-Anne Royster, Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Office of Institutional Equity, and Charmaine Royal, Robert O. Kehane Professor of African and African American Studies, is responsible for “understanding and enhancing” how racial equity is integrated into educational spaces. campus to learn more about issues surrounding racial equity.

In the coming year, the subcommittee plans to design a tool to “solicit information: from departments, create a database of “Duke-wide educational activities” that focus on the racial equity and anti-racism and reflect on strategies to engage each school within Duke to consider how its curriculum engages with “racial equity, anti-racism, and racial liberation.”

Infrastructure and Policy Subcommittee

The fourth subcommittee, the infrastructure and policy subcommittee, co-chaired by Kimberly Hewitt, vice president for institutional equity and director of diversity, and Abbas Benmamoun, vice provost for faculty advancement, is responsible for understanding “the capacity and structural support of the various strategic initiatives designed to advance racial equity and making recommendations to support them.

During the first year, this subcommittee worked to calculate progress on racial equity goals across Duke and identify initial survey responses that raised “fairness concerns.” salary”.

In the coming year, the Infrastructure and Policy Subcommittee will focus on enforcing Duke’s annual Racial Equity Report, work with the Climate and Evaluation Subcommittee to pilot a study on pay equity and confront concerns about opportunities for advancement.


Katherine Thomas
| news editor

Kathryn Thomas is Trinity’s junior editor and editor of the 118th volume of The Chronicle.

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