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A Hopeful Outlook on a New Academic Year

Kimberly Hewitt

As we approach this school year, I am filled with hopefulness despite the uncertain terrain and the many challenges facing us today. Many of us began the summer excited to see friends and family, and perhaps we began to enjoy some time away from work with a bit more freedom. However, the moment is calling upon us to reset once again and manage our expectations. And so, we will carry on navigating through an unexpected context.

 

Our work in the Office for Institutional Equity continues, mostly remotely, but we have many exciting changes on the horizon. In response to the growing demands around compliance, we hired two new investigators who will respond to concerns about discrimination and harassment reported to OIE. We have also filled one support role, and we are finalizing filling the second, which will make the office fully staffed. The added personnel shapes us for an exciting return to welcome students, while it also reinforces our continuing work with the health system that can never fully shift to a remote environment. The office forges ahead with creating tools and information designed for enhanced clarity that will increase understanding and accessibility to the policy and processes for addressing discrimination and harassment. We also press on with advancing our projects to provide engaging, creative, and impactful educational and supportive training opportunities for the University community around diversity, anti-racism, equitable hiring practices, and more.

 

We are particularly excited about our role in supporting Duke’s ambitious commitments to racial equity. Together with our partners in the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement, OIE has led the development of a Racial Equity Advisory Council that comprises University leadership and four corresponding subcommittees that include students, faculty, and staff: Climate and Assessment; Education, Curriculum and Training; Communications; and Infrastructure and Policy. Each subcommittee will tackle the coordination, accountability, and transparency needed to transform the Duke community. This persistence to press on with transformative work reminds me of a quote in the epilogue of Theodore D. Segal’s “Point of Reckoning: The Fight for Racial Justice at Duke University” that, to me, captures the current moment and what needs to come next:

So the problem remains. Race is, and always has been, the core issue for Duke. Only after Duke’s Black students forced the university to consider the implications of desegregation and the aftermath of Jim Crow could the institution achieve the national and international prominence to which it aspired. But true greatness will only become possible if the University is able to create the diverse and inclusive culture it seeks.

Though we certainly recognize the tremendous amount of work yet to be done, this moment feels like we might be poised to make genuine movement towards creating the diverse, equitable and inclusive Duke we desire. Certainly, the future holds much uncertainty about what we still may face, but the energy to make real change at Duke and to honor our history, both good and bad, feels ripe and dynamic.

 

We wish everyone a productive, enriching, and meaningful 2021-22 academic year!

Kimberly Hewitt, Vice President for Institutional Equity & Chief Diversity Officer, August 20, 2021

 

Duke University Institutional Statement of Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

Duke aspires to create a community built on collaboration, innovation, creativity, and belonging. Our collective success depends on the robust exchange of ideas—an exchange that is best when the rich diversity of our perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences flourishes. To achieve this exchange, it is essential that all members of the community feel secure and welcome, that the contributions of all individuals are respected, and that all voices are heard. All members of our community have a responsibility to uphold these values.

 

Learn about Anti-Racism at Duke and also visit OIE's OIE Anti-Racism Resources page.

 

 

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DUKE STAFF AND FACULTY CAN DESIGNATE GENDER IDENTITY, PRONOUNS

Watch on YouTube: Race and Representation

In this Duke in Dialogue session by the Duke Alumni Forever Learning Institute, Kimberly Hewitt, Duke VP for Institutional Equity, and Judy Seidenstein, Chief Diversity Officer and Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion for DUSOM discuss the vital role of representation — in public perception, education, government, business and more — where we need it, and how it makes a difference in our experiences within race and society.

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Complaints and Concerns

⚠ NOTICE

Duke University's response to the COVID-19 pandemic is focused on the safety of staff, faculty, students, health care providers, and the public we serve. Out of an abundance of caution, the Office for Institutional Equity will hold all OIE investigations, meetings, and workshops remotely via Zoom unless otherwise indicated.


Duke is dedicated to creating a work and learning environment that is free from harassment and discrimination. If you have a concern about either of these issues, the Office for Institutional Equity is here to help. We can answer your questions, connect you to resources, or help you file a complaint. Duke policies prohibit retaliation against anyone for coming forward with a concern or for submitting a complaint.

Complaints and Concerns

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Sexual Misconduct & Title IX

Duke is proactive in its efforts to address and reduce instances of sexual misconduct, including sexual violence, in order to create and maintain a welcoming learning and working environment. It’s our responsibility to ensure compliance with federal law by demonstrating that our programs are operated in a manner consistent with Title VII and Title IX regulations and provisions, as well as the Violence Against Women Act.

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Training, Workshops, and Educational Sessions

⚠ NOTICE

Duke University's response to the COVID-19 pandemic is focused on the safety of staff, faculty, students, health care providers, and the public we serve. Out of an abundance of caution, the Office for Institutional Equity will hold all OIE investigations, meetings, and workshops remotely via Zoom unless otherwise indicated.


Duke is committed to support its diverse community by providing a variety of training and workshops designed to help Duke staff comply with university regulations related to discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct, discrimination, and equal opportunity. The Office for Institutional Equity also offers customized workshops on intercultural education and building cultural competence, anti-racism, the power of diversity, unconscious bias, applied skills in conflict avoidance and resolution, and more. In addition, we provide resources and support specific to the Duke Health community. Join us for our new Fall 2021 Workshop series designed to provide education and support on key issues related to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. The workshops are open to the Duke community, in particular to staff interested in increasing skill and workplace culture in their departments. Registration is required for each session.

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Affirmative Action Programs, Equitable Hiring & Promotion Practices, and Data Evaluation

The Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action area of the Office for Institutional Equity is responsible for:

  • Preparing Duke's Affirmative Action Plans (AAPs) and Equal Employment Opportunity reports (EEOs);
  • Implementing Duke’s policies on Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action related to pay discrimination and prejudicial promotion practices, including performing investigations;
  • Conducting federally mandated and internal EEO data analytics;
  • Providing consultation services, education, and training;
  • Serving as liaison between Duke and governmental agencies in areas of contract compliance, reporting, and regulatory matters.

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