Foster Diversity as a Basis for Innovation & Excellence

Trinity College Arts & Sciences has clearly and consistently articulated its deep commitment to diversity as a central tenet for new ideas and creativity. To be a truly educated person, one must embrace and practice an appreciation for different disciplines, thought processes, modes of expression, backgrounds, and histories – in other words, engagement with the full range of knowledge and human experiences. Indeed, this is the core of the liberal arts education. Complex issues belie simple solutions, and diversity provides a way of thinking and using different perspectives, not only to more effectively solve today’s problems but to imagine future possibilities in an unscripted world. And finally, we seek to develop not just an inclusive environment for faculty, students, and staff, but a collaborative community that promotes a “culture of belonging,” so that diverse perspectives not only provide value but are publicly recognized for the value they add.

Our Goals

  • Clearly articulate our philosophy of diversity as a central tenet for new ideas and creativity 
  • Continue to diversify the faculty 
  • Raise the visibility of the scholarship and accomplishments of our diverse faculty 
  • Create strategies for Education, Conversation, and Communication 
  • Create and implement a Diversity Advisory Committee for faculty and staff as well as students 
  • Increase diversity among the academic deans, administration, and the Trinity Board of Visitors

Diversity & Inclusion


Diversity is at the core of a liberal arts education—and at the very core of our institutional values. We believe that we can learn the most from those who are different from ourselves. As such, we also believe that diversity--in all its forms--is a driver for new ideas, creativity and academic excellence. To be a truly educated person, we believe we all should embrace and practice an appreciation for different disciplines, thought processes, modes of expression, and histories. We are dedicated each day to providing such an education, and we recognize that to do so, we must also be dedicated to ensuring inclusion of every member of our community.

We are committed to promoting a deep appreciation for the range of human difference and potential, a sense of the obligations and rewards of citizenship, and a commitment to learning, freedom and truth. We are dedicated to promoting an intellectual environment built on a commitment to free and open inquiry. And, we champion intellectual freedom and the courage to hold, articulate and defend and debate ideas, whether popular or not, as an essential value of the university.

committee members

Trinity College of Arts & Sciences Committee on Anti-Racism


Formed in Fall 2020, this committee is led by Patrick Bayer, Gilhuly Family Distinguished Professor in Economics (pictured right), whose research focuses on the wide-ranging impacts of racial discrimination, inequality and segregation, including in schools, housing and labor markets, and the criminal justice system.

“We will take a comprehensive and unflinching look at the structures that perpetuate racism and drive racial disparities within the college,” Bayer said. “To do so, we plan to draw on the experiences and insights of students, staff, and faculty from across the college as well as data from a variety of sources.”

Joining him as committee members are (pictured above): (top row left to rightLamonte Aidoo, associate professor of Romance Studies and the Dean’s Leadership Fellow in Trinity College; Matthew Becker, professor of Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, and Biomedical Engineering; Tyson Brown, associate professor of Sociology and director of the Center on Health & Society in the Social Science Research Institute; Felipe de Brigard, Fuchsberg-Levine Family Associate Professor of Philosophy and associate professor of Psychology & Neuroscience; David Dunson, Arts & Sciences Distinguished Professor of Statistical Science; (bottom row, left to right): Darren Gobert, William and Sue Gross Professor of Theater Studies; Tsitsi Jaji, associate professor of English Laura Lieber, professor of Religious Studies; Beverly McIver, professor of the practice of Art, Art History & Visual Studies; and Lillian Pierce, Nicholas J. and Theresa M. Leonardy Professor of Mathematics.

    Sustaining Dialogue Around Values, Beliefs, Meaning and Purpose in a Time of Polarization

    In November 2017, Duke students and faculty shared their experiences, questions and potential solutions for engaging difference in a student-centered conversation entitled Sustaining Dialogue Around Values, Beliefs, Meaning and Purpose in a Time of Polarization. David Malone, Director of Duke Service-Learning, facilitated the conversation which featured Dean of Arts and Sciences Valerie Ashby and other leaders including Brandon Hudson, Duke Alumni and Director of Durham’s Urban Hope, Jayne Ifekwunigwe from Duke’s Center for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation, Sam Miglarese, Director of the Duke/Durham Neighborhood Partnership, and Mohamad Chamas, a Duke senior currently studying Education, Literature, and Neuroscience.

    Listen to understand, not to respond

    “One thing I’ve been working on is to listen to understand, not to respond. We’re trained to fight and defend our opinions. And even though that fits in the classroom, maybe it doesn’t really fit that well in real life.” -Duke student

    Explore the powerful photo essay from this event

    Teaching for Equity Program

    Piloted in Trinity - Now Campus Wide

    In 2015, Trinity College partnered with Provost Sally Kornbluth on a teaching enhancement program we call Teaching for Equity. The Teaching for Equity Fellows program helps faculty cultivate practical skills and strategies. Led by education consultants who specialize in racial justice, educational equality and culturally relevant pedagogy, the classes help faculty examine how they teach and become more aware of their own assumptions.

    Faculty participants said they also learn to recognize when students themselves may be adversely affecting others in class. The program teaches strategies for faculty to engage their class in a way that promotes respect for everyone, overcomes inadvertent biases and diffuses any tensions.

    Teaching for Equity has been transformational for our faculty fellows and brings great value to our classrooms. The program has now been expanded to include cohorts from others schools at Duke.

    Duke SPIRE Program

    Cultivating Diversity in STEM Fields

    In 2017/18, we launched the Duke SPIRE Fellows, a deeply responsive mentoring and academic support system for undergraduates with an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Our goal is to attract and mentor students from diverse backgrounds who otherwise may not have chosen to pursue a major or career in STEM. Duke SPIRE--which stands for STEM Pathways for Inclusion, Readiness and Excellence Fellows--builds on the power of learning communities. Such community groups take classes together, work through homework and projects together, and who support each other. SPIRE also provides each Fellow with an engaged role-model mentor, expanded peer tutoring and academic skills instruction.

    Learn More - SPIRE Fellows Program


    Celebrating 50 Years of Black Faculty Scholarship

    In 2017, we celebrated 50 years of Black faculty scholarship through a year-long series of events, videos, and the launch of a new distinguished lecture series. We are proud of our faculty's scholarly legacy, and recognize the challenges of forging a presence for Black scholars at Duke in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement. We honor their scholarly achievements and their invaluable contributions to the university, to our community, and to Durham, North Carolina.

    Dean's Diversity Award

    In 2016, we established a new honor to recognize faculty members whose approach to research, teaching and service embody our ideals of diversity as a driver for innovation and excellence. 

    Our recipients have included (pictured on left, clockwise from top left): Chemists Katherine Franz and Amanda Hargrove (2020), Asian & Middle Eastern Studies Professor Nayoung Aimee Kwon (2019), Nuclear Physicist Calvin Howell (2016), Biologist Sherryl Broverman (2017), and English Professor Priscilla Wald (2018).

    Strengthening the Women in Science Community

    Cultivating a strong and supportive culture for women scientists will help us with hiring & retention, and recruitment & retention of students in STEM. In 2016/17, we convened a group of women faculty leaders in the sciences (from various ranks and disciplines) to hear their perspectives on the culture of women in science at Duke, and to solicit their feedback on how Trinity can better foster a supportive environment.

    We then hosted a luncheon that was attended by 40 women faculty members in the sciences. This provided an opportunity for community building and for a moment to celebrate recent accomplishments. We are now developing a plan for continued engagement with the addition of a lecture series, ongoing opportunities for community building, and mentorship specifically for women scientists.