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Diversity

Promote Diversity in All Aspects of University Life

Leon Dunkley, director of Mary Lou Williams Center, talks with students
Leon Dunkley, director of the Mary Lou Williams Center, talks with students. Graduates of the Class of 2001 donated the first installment of multimedia materials for the center's new library, created to energize and support critical inquiry of issues of race and social difference.

A welcoming community built around diversity in all its dimensions – ethnic, international, and cultural – is critical to securing the greatest intellectual talent and hence to ensuring the quality and success of the contemporary university. The best living, learning, and working environment is one in which its members are heterogeneous, offering different perspectives from which all can gain knowledge and skills. Diversity in educational experience prepares students to live among, work with, and lead diverse groups of people.

To achieve this goal, Duke continues to focus on increasing its racial, ethnic, and socio-economic diversity among faculty, students, and staff. We are also working to recruit greater numbers of women in areas such as social science, natural science, engineering, and business, where, in the past, women have been underrepresented.

Though we are not satisfied with the pace, our efforts are producing results. The most recent comparative data, published in Black Issues in Higher Education, show Duke ranked fifteenth in the nation for total minority doctorates conferred in 1999-2000, 63, or 27 percent, a higher percentage than Stanford or Harvard. The same issue showed Duke ranked sixth in the number of Asian-American doctorates conferred (50), trailing only schools on the west coast such as Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley.

An article in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education published in the summer of 2001 entitled “Duke’s Ongoing Effort to Racially Diversify Its Campus,” stated that “(Duke) has taken more concrete steps to diversify its campus than almost any of the nation’s highest-ranked universities.” The article noted that while other universities leveled off their number of new black hires, Duke has continued to aggressively recruit black faculty, such as Houston Baker Jr., one of the nation’s most visible and preeminent scholars of African-American literature and culture. Since 1988, the number of blacks teaching at Duke more than doubled. It is now at 75. In addition, Duke almost tripled its number of African-American students from 56 in the freshman class in 1984 to 165 in the first-year class in 2000-2001. Duke also has one of the nation’s best black student graduation rates. Duke’s professional schools, including medicine, nursing, and law, are also achieving significantly more diverse student bodies.

Students receiving master of public policy degrees, 2001 Commencement
Students receiving master of public policy degrees prepare to receive their diplomas during Commencement 2001.

Duke saw a record number of applications from minorities in 2001, with significant increases in the number of Asian, Latino and African-American student applicants. “We have been fortunate to see a steady rise in the number of students of color,” says Christoph Guttentag, director of undergraduate admissions. “I think a part of that is that we continually try to refine our recruitment efforts. Another important part is we’re matriculating a really significant number of these applicants. When potential students visit Duke and see the diversity of our campus, that builds upon itself.” Thirty-four percent of the students in the Class of 2005 are ethnic or racial minorities: 15 percent are Asian/ Asian-American, 11 percent are African-American, and 8 percent are Latino/Hispanic.

The rich diversity of more than 100 student organizations – including Campus Crusade for Christ and Hillel, the Asian Students Association and La Asociación de Estudiantes Latinos, and Gothic Queers and the Duke Conservative Union – enrich the extracurricular experience for everyone, through social gatherings, film festivals, political rallies, holiday celebrations, and religious observances.

Information technology is an indispensable component of education and research in the 21st century. This principle can only be fully supported by the thorough integration of information technology into all appropriate aspects of university life. Assessing what contributes to learning and what doesn’t will be an important component of our efforts. Students still express their desire for face-to-face contact with the faculty and we will preserve this important aspect of the Duke education. Information technology will be used to create a rich environment that facilitates communication, learning, collaboration, research, and innovation.

We will increase our use of technology as it relates to enhancing research and teaching. We set as a strategic objective the incorporation of some level of online learning into every appropriate class at Duke. More than 270 courses in arts and sciences use software to create course web pages and to incorporate learning materials from audio and video files.