Laurie Patton to Become Arts and Sciences Dean

Emory professor praised for leadership, vision for university

Laurie Patton will become dean of the arts and sciences at Duke in July.

Laurie L. Patton, the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Religions at Emory University and director of Emory's Center for Faculty Development and Excellence, will become the next dean of the faculty of Arts and Sciences at Duke University beginning in July, Duke President Richard H. Brodhead and Provost Peter Lange announced Wednesday.

Patton will oversee the university's core academic units, which offers courses and degrees across the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. She was recommended by a search committee of Duke faculty members, academic leaders and students who cited her collaborative leadership style, skills as a consensus builder and compelling vision of how universities can work in partnership with the broader public.

"Laurie Patton is an accomplished scholar who radiates the love of teaching and learning," Brodhead said. "She is a natural community builder who values the best of traditional education while having a sharp eye to the future. She will bring energy, wisdom and vision to this crucial appointment."

"I am enormously pleased that Laurie Patton has agreed to become the next dean of Arts and Sciences," said Lange, Duke's senior academic officer. "She is a most gifted scholar and teacher whose career has demonstrated a commitment to research and teaching and to how the two can most productively be combined. She has a breadth of vision about how Arts and Sciences can continue to sustain and enhance its existing great strengths while innovating and thereby advancing its highest priorities and those of the university."

Patton, who received her B.A. from Harvard University in 1983 and her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1991, is the author or editor of eight books on South Asian history, culture and religion. She translated the classical Sanskrit text, "The Bhagavad Gita," for the Penguin Classics Series and has written two books of poetry. Her current research for two forthcoming books focuses on religion in the public sphere and on women and Sanskrit in contemporary India.

Patton served as chair of Emory's religion department from 2000-2007, and of Emory College's Tenure and Promotion Committee in 2006. From 2004-2007, she was co-convener of an interdisciplinary initiative on Religions and the Human Spirit, part of the university's strategic plan. This work created several research and teaching projects that integrated the study of religion and the health sciences. As director of Emory's Center for Faculty Development, she currently oversees a university-wide interdisciplinary seminar program, programs on pedagogy and a set of initiatives to assist faculty authors.

Patton has lectured widely on religious pluralism and religion in the public sphere. She is the founder and co-convener of a Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding Initiative at Emory, and she recently consulted with the White House Office of Faith-Based Community Partnerships on interfaith literacy and the U.S Department of Education's Initiative on Civic Engagement.

In 2005, she received Emory University's highest award for teaching, the Emory Williams Award. This year, she is finishing a term as president of the American Society for the Study of Religion.

"Everyone who met Laurie was impressed by her intense involvement in interdisciplinary, translational, global scholarship," said Lynn Smith-Lovin, a professor of sociology who led the Duke search committee that recommended Patton to the university's leadership. "They were stirred by her vision for Arts and Sciences. I was struck by the enthusiasm about her candidacy across students and faculty from many different disciplines and academic positions."

"I am delighted to have the opportunity to serve as the next dean of the faculty of Arts and Sciences," said Patton. "As my conversations with members of the Duke community deepened over the course of the autumn, it became clear to me that there was a remarkable match between Duke's vision for higher education in the 21st century and my own. Duke's clear eminence in teaching, interdisciplinary research, international educational partnerships and new models for civic engagement make it an extraordinary place to be. I am honored to join this community of faculty and student leaders."

Her husband, Shalom Goldman, is professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Emory and the author and editor of several books and numerous articles on Christian Hebraism, Jewish-Christian relations and contemporary Israel.

Patton will succeed Alvin L. Crumbliss, a chemistry professor and former dean of natural sciences who was appointed Arts and Sciences dean in May 2010 upon the departure of former dean George McLendon to become the provost of Rice University.