Toddi Steelman Appointed to Lead Duke Climate Commitment

Toddi Steelman moves from her role as Stanback Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment to a new role where she will oversee the Duke Climate Commitment and lead the Office of Climate and Sustainability.

“Toddi has provided tremendous leadership during the development and initial stages of the Duke Climate Commitment, while also successfully advancing the mission of the Nicholas School of the Environment in her role as Stanback Dean,” said Price. “I look forward to our continued work together as we unite Duke’s education, research, and public service missions—along with our institutional operations—to address the climate crisis.”

During her five years as dean, Steelman directed the launch of two new majors to help advance climate, earth and environmental literacy among undergraduate students; oversaw the implementation of revised master’s curricula; and secured philanthropic support for new faculty hiring to enhance the Nicholas School’s focus on climate change.  

“I could not be more excited to see Duke take this bold step and further invest in addressing one of the planet’s most pressing challenges,” Steelman said. “I am honored to be asked to lead this ambitious effort at an historic moment for Duke.”

Prior to her appointment as dean in 2018, Steelman served as the first permanent executive director of the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Environment and Sustainability, after serving 11 years on the faculty in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University. She holds a Ph.D. from Duke, an MPA from Princeton University and a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University.

Interim Provost Jennifer Francis has appointed Lori Bennear, the Juli Plant Grainger Associate Professor of Energy Economics and Policy, to a two-year term succeeding Steelman as Stanback Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment. Bennear has served as executive vice dean of the Nicholas School since 2022 and has been at Duke since 2004. She holds a Ph.D. from Harvard, an MA from Yale and a bachelor’s degree from Occidental College.