Lee Baker Reappointed as Trinity Dean of Academic Affairs

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Lee Baker

Professor Lee D. Baker has been reappointed as dean of academic affairs of Trinity College and associate vice provost for undergraduate education, Trinity College Dean Laurie Patton announced Thursday.

"Lee represents the best of what I like to call the scholar administrator," Patton said. "He has been instrumental in increasing undergraduate research at Duke, improving undergraduate advising, strengthening our support for athletes and improving student success in science fields."

Undergraduate research and graduation with distinction senior theses in Trinity College of Arts & Sciences have more than doubled since 2005.

Baker has worked to make advising more effective for undergraduates, in collaboration with Steve Nowicki, dean and vice provost for undergraduate education, and Beth Fox, associate dean and director of the academic advising center. This fall he will co-convene the task force on advising with developmental psychologist Steven Asher, and he has made advising a fund-raising priority for the college in the Duke Forward campaign.

"Lee has made an unquestionable impact on undergraduate education at Duke, and I am pleased he has decided to continue in this important leadership role," said Provost Peter Lange.

"Lee has a tireless commitment to undergraduate education and an extraordinary ability to sound the pulse of the student body," Nowicki said.

As dean of academic affairs, Baker is responsible for the school's undergraduate curricular and instructional programs, as well the Academic Advising Center, the Academic Resource Center, the Office of Summer Session and Continuing Studies, the Focus Program, the Office of Assessment, the Office of Undergraduate Research Support and the Service Learning Program.

This past year Baker developed a new approach to certificate programs that integrates academic and experiential learning. He was also instrumental in the development of the new global health major, which will launch in the fall.

During his tenure, Baker has supported changes in science education. In collaboration with Robert Calderbank, dean of the natural sciences, he worked with departments to strengthen introductory and gateway science courses to improve student success.

For example, Baker supported revamping introductory chemistry courses to ensure that students can have a challenging and successful initiation to that subject regardless of their high school preparation. He designed the Cardea Fellows Program to helps high performing students from low performing high schools develop a strong foundation in science and math thrive academically, and become competitive for admissions to medical school and other health professions. He paired Cardea with the Academic Resource Center's successful SAGE Program (Science Advancement through Group Engagement), a program that lets students work through science problems and learn from each other in small study groups. The new courses and peer-support are improving student academic performance.

Baker currently holds an appointment as professor in the departments of Cultural Anthropology, Sociology, and African and African American Studies at Duke.  His outstanding teaching ability was reflected in 2007 with the receipt of the Richard K. Lublin Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching award.  In 2013, he was awarded a Samuel Dubois Cook award in recognition of his effective teaching and mentoring.

"Lee's leadership is essential as higher education faces new challenges and Duke takes on leadership roles to meet them," said Patton.