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Graduate School Launches Series of Conversations on Race and Bias

The following is an email from Dean Paula D. McClain to Graduate School students on September 17.

Race and Bias Conversations
Dear graduate students,

Back in June, as we were processing the news of the killing of George Floyd, I wrote to you to outline some of the things that The Graduate School has been doing or plans to do as part of Duke’s effort to better address the effects of structural racism. Today, I want to provide an update on one of those initiatives.

Starting in October, The Graduate School will host a series of conversations on race and bias throughout the academic year. These discussions aim to help the Graduate School community explore various aspects of these complex topics and to keep them top-of-mind as Duke grapples with these issues. The conversations will also serve as a venue to highlight some of the important work that our students, faculty, and staff are doing in these areas.

You can learn more about the Race and Bias Conversations and see the list of events at We have two conversations confirmed for the fall: In October, I will lead a discussion on a book examining the desegregation of private higher ed institutions in the South, including Duke. In November, Ph.D. students Ajenai Clemmons and Arvind Krishnamurthy will share their research on policing.

More events are being scheduled, and we welcome your input. The page above includes a form you can use to suggest topics or to volunteer to discuss your research or other types of work related to racism and bias at a future session.

I want to thank assistant deans Francisco Ramos, Alan Kendrick, Melissa Bostrom, Hugh Crumley, and Brad Teague, as well as senior program coordinators Latishia Futrell and Sondra Ponzi, for working together to develop this series at a time when they have all been extraordinarily busy preparing for the start of a new semester and supporting our students amid the pandemic. We are excited about these conversations, and we hope that they will, with your input, contribute to ongoing efforts to help the university more effectively confront and address the legacy of racism.

Take care, have a great semester, and I hope to see you at some of the Race and Bias Conversations this year.


Paula D. McClain, Ph.D.
Dean of The Graduate School
Vice Provost for Graduate Education