Memo from the Dean 4/20/2012
Dear Faculty and Staff,
Greetings from the final weeks of the semester. This past weekend we hosted a lively and successful spring meeting with the Trinity Board of Visitors. As you know, the board is made up of Arts & Sciences (A & S) alumni and is powerful proof that a Duke education creates broad thinking individuals who are profoundly dedicated to the idea of knowledge in service to society.
We invited the board to evaluate our ideas for the upcoming campaign, and their feedback was both constructive and instructive. I will be working with Colleen Fitzpatrick, our assistant vice president for development, to incorporate their perspectives and advice. We focused the meeting around entrepreneurship as an emerging research and educational initiative for Duke and A & S, shared our varied efforts in teaching innovation, and explored ways to reach out to alumni and parents. The board expressed deep interest in Duke’s global education plans, and asked insightful questions about the role of international students and alumni in our strategic planning. We are very fortunate to have this group of people as advisers and friends.
As part of my regular communications with you, I want to take a moment to point out some of the great work being done across Arts and Sciences. In a wonderful example of public impact, a thoughtful analysis of election year voter behavior presented by political science faculty members John Aldrich, Sunshine Hillygus and David Rohde with graduate students Bradford Bishop and Rebecca Hatch was picked up by Atlantic Magazine. The provocatively titled article “Fake Orgasms and the Tea Party: Just Another Political Science Convention” gives praise to our Duke scholars for providing an astute assessment of voter dissatisfaction and anger and ultimately, their behavior during the primaries and mid-term elections. Read the article at < http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/04/fake-orgasms-and-the-tea-party-just-another-political-science-convention/255909/#>. Incidentally, John Aldrich was elected president of the American Political Science Association and will assume leadership of this international society in September.
Closer to home, I invite you to learn more about one of the first humanities networks to come out of the Humanities Writ Large project. As you may recall, one goal of the project is to cultivate cross-disciplinary networks of scholars with the idea of envisioning education in new ways, such as the upcoming Humanities on Demand course. The new course, focused on enduring stories from Shakespeare to viral video on YouTube, will be taught by faculty in German, literature, music, cultural anthropology, political science, history and religion. Read more at: <http://today.duke.edu/2012/04/viralnarratives>.
In other news, an intriguing study by evolutionary anthropologist Jenny Tung linking changes in the social status of monkeys to gene expression was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The Duke study is the first to use an experimental approach to observe how gene expression patterns across a range of genes correlate with an animal's social dominance. Congratulations to Jenny and her team for this accomplishment. You can read the news summary of this work at <http://today.duke.edu/2012/04/socialstatusaffectsgenes>.
In closing, I want to strongly encourage faculty to participate in commencement exercises and the President's Reception on the Chapel Quadrangle on Saturday, May 12, from 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. Graduation is a culminating moment for our students and their families, and the opportunity to engage with faculty is very important. It makes a difference that faculty are there. As alumni, our former students become part of our extended community and continue to support the school in many ways.
Dean of Arts & Sciences