The Academic Council Thursday elected political science professor Paula McClain as chair of the council, the university's top faculty governing body. When she takes office July 1, McClain will become the council's first African-American chair.
McClain will succeed law professor Paul Haagen, who is concluding a two-year term. She defeated biomedical engineering professor Craig Henriquez, chair of the Pratt School Faculty Council, in a secret ballot.
A member of the Duke faculty since 2000, McClain is also a professor of public policy. She has significant experience in university governance, having served as chair of the Appointment, Promotions and Tenure Committee and as member of the Provost's Diversity Task Force and the Arts and Sciences' Budget Task Force.
She is currently co-director of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences and co-convener of the Duke University Black Faculty Caucus. She also directs the American Political Science Association's Ralph Bunche Institute, a summer program that provides minority undergraduate students with an experience of intensive graduate-level education.
Her research interests focus on minority group politics, particularly social and political competition between minority groups, and urban politics. She recently received national attention for a study exploring the dynamics of relations between blacks and Latino immigrants in American cities.
McClain has held several prominent professional positions, including a recent term as president of the Southern Political Science Association. She also is a past vice president of the American Political Science Association and past president of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.
In addition to being the first African-American to serve as council chair, McClain becomes the third woman to hold the post. Previous chairs include historian Anne Firor Scott and Dr. Nancy Allen.