Gary G. Bennett, a psychology professor and the founding director of Duke’s undergraduate major in global health, has been selected as the next vice provost for undergraduate education at Duke University effective July 1, Provost Sally Kornbluth announced April 30.
Bennett, the Bishop-MacDermott Family Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience, Global Health and Medicine at Duke, directs the Duke Global Digital Health Science Center. Students praise Bennett for his psychology and global health classes, and in 2015 he was named to the Bass Fellows Society, which honors professors for their respected research and strong commitment to undergraduate teaching.
Bennett will succeed Steve Nowicki, a professor of biology, psychology and neurobiology, who was the first to hold the position upon the creation of the Office of Undergraduate Education in 2007. Nowicki is returning to teaching and research full time in the biology department.
“Gary’s appointment is great news for Duke,” Kornbluth said. “He will do a wonderful job building on the strong foundation that Steve Nowicki and his team have established.
“I am impressed by Gary’s deep personal commitment to our students, his keen intelligence, and by his warm and engaging personality that will enable him to interact effectively with students, faculty, administrators, staff, and alumni. I am grateful to the search committee for their outstanding work.”
Bennett received his Ph.D. in clinical health psychology at Duke in 2002. He then served on the faculties of the Harvard School of Public Health and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute before returning to Duke in 2009. His research, continuously supported by the National Institutes of Health, includes design, testing and dissemination of digital obesity treatments, with a focus of integrating them into the primary care setting. His research has been featured in many media outlets including the New York Times, NPR, Time, CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox News.
He is past-president of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.
Bennett said that he feels honored to work with Duke’s exceptional undergraduates. It’s what he most enjoys about Duke. “Our undergraduates are the heart of this university,” Bennett said. “I am honored to have the opportunity to imagine new ways to shape their scholarly development and personal growth.”
“My interactions with faculty -- both in and outside of the classroom -- were fundamental in shaping me and my path,” said Bennett, who earned a B.A. in psychology from Morehouse College. “I want each of our students to have the same opportunity for a life-changing experience. My vision for undergraduate education is one in which the curriculum guides but does not constrain, where exploration is encouraged and supported with strong advising, where co-curricular experiences are valued, and where our foremost priority is elevating the faculty-student relationship.”
The vice provost leads the office of undergraduate education whose mission is to enrich the academic experience for undergraduates, coordinate academic experiences across schools and integrate the academic and social dimensions of the undergraduate student experience across all campus units.
Offices that report to the vice provost include the Office of Academic Advising, the Academic Resource Center, the Office of Global Education for Undergraduates, the Karsh Office of Undergraduate Financial Support, the Office of Access and Outreach, the Office of Civic Engagement, the Office of Undergraduate Scholars and Fellows and the Talent Identification Program.
Bennett was selected by the provost following an internal search chaired by Leo Ching, associate professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.
“The committee interviewed a pool of highly qualified and dedicated applicants,” Ching said. “We were impressed by Gary’s vision to enhance the total undergraduate experience which is both ambitious and strategic. His excellent record of teaching and mentoring, along with his affable and generous personality, are important qualities for this student-centric position.”