Duke faculty council hands out awards, discusses new provost

Sep. 19, 2013 @ 07:59 PM

The Duke Academic Council held its first meeting of the new semester Thursday and handed out awards, appointed faculty to its hearing committee and discussed the search for a new provost behind closed doors.

It was Duke physics professor Joshua Socolar’s first meeting as head of the Academic Council, Duke University’s faculty governance organization. Socolar follows physical oceanography professor Susan Lozier in the lead role.

Socolar said by the start of this semester, varying issues affecting faculty already had been brought to his attention, such as benefits and drawbacks of online education, the role of interdisciplinary institutes and community engagement, and updating the goals for faculty and administrator diversity.

Even though the China Ministry of Education’s final approval of Duke Kunshan University, which was announced this week, wasn’t placed on the agenda for discussion, Socolar said upcoming council meetings will focus on the hired faculty and academic programs that will set root on the new Duke campus in China in fall of 2014.

The Academic Council also approved 358 Duke degree candidates who completed their requirements during the summer term, and the students came from nine departments and programs within the university, ranging from the Fuqua School of Business and Sanford School of Public Policy to the Nicholas School of the Environment and School of Medicine.

The degree candidates will be forwarded to the Duke Board of Trustees for consideration and approval.

Six Duke faculty members were approved to be new faces on the Academic Council’s Faculty Hearing Committee, which hears faculty complaints regarding termination of employment and violations of academic freedom, as well as allegations of harassment.

The new committee members are Christina Hendrix from the School of Nursing; Willie Jennings from the Divinity School; Trina Jones from the Law School; Terrence Oas from the biochemistry department; Jocelyn Olcott from the history department; and Manju Puri from Fuqua.

Tom Metzloff from the Law School will continue to serve as the committee chair.

The Academic Council also discussed two awards that afternoon. For the first time, the Executive Committee of the Academic Council decided to use some of its endowed funds to award an incoming freshman a scholarship.

Jake Grusd was the first freshman to receive the award, based on academic promise and financial need. The scholarship delivers $5,000 a year for four years.

Grusd is planning on double majoring in music, in which he’s involved in the Duke Chorale and Opera Workshop, and economics, in which he wants to pursue a certificate in markets and management.

“I dream of combining my training in and knowledge of the art that inspires me with keen business and economic senses to help me manage and lead the opera world into the future,” said Grusd in an email Thursday evening. “... My fall semester so far has been going very well, and I've surprisingly been able to get about eight hours of sleep every night.”

Duke linguistics and cultural anthropology professor Edna Andrews was presented the University Scholar/Teacher of the Year award By Duke President Richard Brodhead during the meeting.

The award recognized her work in Duke’s Slavic and Eurasian Studies department.

“Pozdravlyayu,” Brodhead said, wishing her congratulations in Russian.

Andrews took the certificate, the award appearing massive next to her tiny frame.

“It’s taller than I am,” she said.

The Academic Council transitioned into a closed, executive session with faculty members to discuss priorities for the new provost. The university has started the search for its new chief academic officer after Provost Peter Lange announced in late August that he’s stepping down from the provost post next June.