Climate, Culture and Community

Support for Departments and Schools

The Office for Faculty Advancement supports all schools across Duke in promoting a respectful and professional work and educational environment for all. Through ongoing dialogue and collaboration with deans and their leadership teams, OFA shares best practices as well as local and institutional interventions for building and promoting an inclusive climate.

OFA works with deans and chairs to address individual situations and overall climate issues within departments. We advise chairs and faculty and help develop responses to issues as they come up. As appropriate and relevant, we coordinate with schools, departments, the Office for Institutional Equity, Human Resources, the Office of Audit Risk and Compliance, and Legal Counsel.

Chapel at sunrise.

Faculty Advancement Seed Grants

Seed grants are intended to provide a financial head start for novel faculty development initiatives within academic units (schools, departments, divisions, centers, institutes) that aim to foster a sense of community and build faculty networks. These grants aid in improving the campus climate by giving voice and agency to faculty ideas that enhance belonging and ownership across units.

In March 2021, the Office for Faculty Advancement awarded seed grants to 14 faculty-led projects exploring new ideas and expanding existing initiatives to promote an equitable and inclusive academic environment at Duke. The theme for this cycle was “Confronting Racism and Bias: Fostering an Inclusive Community.”

Seed grant recipients.
Recipients of 2021-22 Faculty Advancement Seed Grants

New Research Opportunity for Faculty

Thanks to generous funding from The Duke Endowment, the Office of the Provost offered a research opportunity to faculty across the university to submit proposals to study “Reckoning with Race, Racism, and the History of the American South.”

A total of 17 proposals were funded, with award dollars totaling $611,644.

Campus Survey

In April 2021, around 34,000 Duke University faculty, staff and students were invited to take part in the first university-wide survey on diversity, equity and inclusion. The Office for Faculty Advancement worked with the offices for Institutional Equity and Institutional Research to develop and implement the survey. Results will be used as a baseline to assess the effectiveness of current and planned programmatic and policy changes designed to help Duke become a more just and equitable community for all its members.

A working group led by Sherilynn Black, Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement, will assist schools and departments in understanding the data and identifying gaps and opportunities to make progress.

Sponsored Programs

Seed grant initiatives that result in year-to-year success, and also have committed faculty leaders and fulfill the mission and vision of the Office for Faculty Advancement, may be considered for longer-term support in full or in partnership with another unit. Current sponsored programs:

WRAP writing group members working.
Members of the Writing and ReseArch Productivity (WRAP) Group take part in a writing retreat. (From left: Sarah Gaither, Gustavo Silva, Sherilynn Black, Tyson Brown, Robert Turner, Jarvis McInnis, Sally Nuamah, Jean Beaman)


OFA seeks partnership with other units to promote faculty advancement. This year we partnered with the following offices at Duke:

Outside of Duke:

Allen Building entrance.

Affinity Groups

In efforts to build social connections and professional networks between faculty across the Duke community, OFA supports faculty Affinity Groups that cover a variety of topics and faculty interests. The groups are run by faculty members and provide opportunities for collaborations and deepened relationships between faculty peers. Examples include:

View of the Brodhead Center.

Living While Black

In response to the death of George Floyd and protests on police brutality, OFA hosted a day-long symposium, Living While Black. The online event, attended by more than 6,300 members of the Duke community, provided a forum for the voices of more than 50 Black faculty, staff and students who shared personal stories of racism and discrimination, presented research on racial inequities and issued urgent calls for change. 

Watch the videos:

Faculty Curriculum on Dismantling Racism at Duke

As faculty continued to deepen their knowledge of historical, structural and systemic racism and its implications, OFA developed a curriculum to combine practical skills, tangible actions and historical contexts to inform faculty and build personal capacity to promote equitable academic environments. This practical skills short course included topics such as:

  • How to hold constructive conversations about race
  • How to move your local environments toward equity
  • How to navigate interactions contradicting and undermining your equity goals
  • Lasting practices to promote anti-racism and equity in your research, mentoring and learning environments

More than 150 faculty members across the university attended the short course over four half-days. A cohort follow-up workshop took place on April 26, and OFA launched a cohort survey on April 30, 2021.

Portraits of the presenters.
Presenters Charmaine Royal, Sherilynn Black, Claudia Gunsch, Abbas Benmamoun and Kimberly Hewitt

Anti-Asian Violence: Historical Legacies

OFA hosted a panel discussion on March 24, 2021, which was attended by 670 Duke faculty, students and staff.

Attendees heard from four faculty members about the history of anti-Asian racism, representation of Asians and Asian Americans, and what Duke has been doing and could do to support its community of Asian descent and the Asian Studies programs.

Moderated by Nayoung Aimee Kwon (left), the event featured presentations from Eileen Chow, Susan Thananopavarn and Esther Kim Lee.

Advisory Committees

The Office for Faculty Advancement is guided by feedback and recommendations provided by the OFA Leadership Advisory Committee and the OFA Faculty Advisory Committee. OFA leaders meet with each committee once per semester.

Blue Devil weathervane.

Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment

Nationally, the Office for Faculty Advancement is participating in the National Academies’ Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education. Through this effort, OFA is collaborating and sharing best practices with other universities committed to improving climate in higher education.

Duke is participating in the Response Working Group of the Action Collaborative with the specific goals of contributing to promising practices for: 1) how to provide leaders with the skills to correct or address bad behavior and to prepare people to handle a notification of sexual harassment; and 2) addressing low-severity “below the waterline” complaints, known as low-severity gender harassment.

This work is being broadened to address general climate concerns in an academic environment and serving as a foundation for the development of a climate toolkit for the university.

Duke is cohosting the virtual Public Summit of the Actional Collaborative in October 2021.