Edna Andrews Named Director of FOCUS Program

FOCUS, created in 1992, allows first-year students to explore issues in great depth.

Edna Andrews, professor of linguistics and cultural anthropology at Duke, has been named director of the FOCUS program, Duke's interdisciplinary program for first-year students.

The former chair of the Slavic Languages & Eurasian Studies department and current director of the Center for Slavic and East European Studies, succeeds Richard Palmer, chemistry professor emeritus, who held the position since 2008.

"Edna Andrews brings energy, experience, and excellence to this signature program at Duke," said Lee Baker, dean of academic affairs of Trinity College. "We are delighted that she has agreed to serve as director and I look forward to working with her closely as she develops new directions for the program and fosters new connections with other programs and departments across the university."

FOCUS, created in 1992, allows students to explore issues such as engineering and the urban environment, migration and globalization, and evolution and humankind. Students studying the various themes live together in specific residence halls and are taught in small groups by senior professors. About 500 (out of 1,700 incoming first-year students) applied for FOCUS this year.

Andrews, a researcher of multilingualism in the brain, has led two FOCUS clusters over recent years, "The Changing Faces of Russia" and "Between Europe and Asia: Explorations in Culture, Law and Cognitive Science."

"FOCUS is one of the most intellectually stimulating programs for first-year college students in the United States and I am very excited to be involved in this outstanding program," Andrews said. "Our faculty and students are truly exceptional and it is an honor to work with them and our staff."

As director of FOCUS, Andrews is responsible for all aspects of the program, including working with faculty to maintain a robust group of interdisciplinary programs, development of new initiatives, and liaison to the dean's office. In her new capacity, Andrews hopes to make improvements to FOCUS and enhance awareness of the program to incoming freshmen.

"I would like to work with our faculty directors to redesign the application process and implement needed structural improvement in order to better serve both students and faculty," Andrews said.

Andrews has published seven books and edited three volumes that explore topics such as Peircean semiotic theory, lexical semantics, and language and brain.

"Edna Andrews is not only a highly productive scholar in linguistics, she is an extraordinary citizen of Duke University," said Angela O'Rand former FOCUS director and dean of social sciences. "In her new role as director of the FOCUS Program, I expect her to devote the same level of energy that characterizes all of her efforts and I am certain she will leave her own imprint."

Andrews, who came to Duke in 1984 as an assistant professor, is a recipient of the Richard Lublin Teaching Award.