Racial Equity Advisory Council

The Racial Equity Advisory Council (REAC) serves as an advisory body to the Executive Leadership of the University (President, Provost, Chancellor of the Health System and the Executive Vice President) and is guided by four subcommittees of experts for the purpose of supporting and informing the operationalization and coordination of centralized efforts to advance racial equity across Duke.

Members of the Advisory Council are comprised of faculty, staff and students whose responsibilities, interests and expertise are aligned with the pillars of Duke’s Strategic Vision.

The Advisory Council and subcommittees meet regularly to develop deliverables and recommendations along with specific steps to be taken and accountability measures for each step.

There are four subcommittees that report up to the Advisory Council:

Campus Climate & Assessment

Using data to identify gaps in policy and practices, and informing educational and training opportunities that support equity at Duke.


Examining how Duke engages in racial equity work through knowledge and skill development, as well as how to support units to improve climate through learning.


Working to increase transparency and engagement related to race and equity work on campus by increasing efforts to inform and involve each member of the community.

Infrastructure & Policies

Examining the capacity and structural support for strategic initiatives and reviewing institutional policies and practices that address equity.


Through collaborative efforts across all four subcommittees, REAC envisions a future in which:

The Duke community is fully empowered to make evidence-based decisions that use data and rigorous methods to advance racial equity.

Every unit at Duke engages policies, protocols and practices that advance racial equity.

Information at Duke is communicated in such a way that it reflects the diversity of our community’s lived experiences and advances racial equity.

Duke consistently develops and provides deep and broad educational engagements that foster anti-racist attitudes and behaviors and enable every person affiliated with Duke to understand and fulfill their responsibility to advance racial equity.


Moving forward, REAC’s efforts will coalesce around the following priorities:  

  1. Successfully implementing the Duke Annual Report on Racial Equity (DARRE) across campus units  
  2. Continuing advocacy for resources to implement projects in REAC’s core work areas   
  3. Supporting the diffusion of information regarding Duke’s values, initiatives, and accountability as they relate to advancing racial equity    
  4. Promoting access to educational content on key issues related to racial equity    
  5. Providing support to unit-level efforts to respond to campus climate concerns     


Duke University has identified ambitious institutional goals related to Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion that are present in departments and units throughout the community. The Advisory Council and corresponding subcommittees provide an oversight structure for these ongoing efforts at the institutional level.

A key goal of the Advisory Council is to maintain the momentum behind existing and emerging racial equity work, for while there is tremendous and impactful ongoing work at Duke, our efforts are not consistent across the enterprise.

Through efforts in the four strategic areas, this Advisory Council is working to ensure students, staff and faculty are prepared for and supported in their roles and to create an environment for effective engagement, growth, and development.


The responsibilities of the Advisory Council include the following:

  • Review and support the operationalization of the specific goals outlined by the subcommittees in alignment with the University Strategic Vision. 
  • Establish the feasibility of the recommendations and projects put forth by the subcommittees. 
  • Facilitate the diffusion of information and projects related to racial equity work at Duke to units and departments across the enterprise. 
  • Develop measures to assess and foster racial equity, diversity and inclusion efforts including overall assessment, diffusion of innovation, continuous quality improvement, and departmental/school/system sustainability plans. 

The responsibilities of the Co-Chairs and subcommittees are to:

  • Identify, gather, and disseminate information to communicate institutional efforts across faculty, staff, students, alumni, and other partners
  • Identify the need for and support the development of educational tools that support local units in learning, growth and culture change across Duke.
  • Develop methods to assess and foster racial equity, diversity and inclusion efforts including overall assessment of REAC work, diffusion of innovation, continuous quality improvement, and departmental/school/system support.
  • Support and advise on projects being explored and implemented across REAC.

REAC Leadership

  • Kimberly Hewitt, Vice President for Institutional Equity (Co-Chair)
  • Abbas Benmamoun, Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement (Co-Chair)
  • Sherilynn Black, Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement (Co-Chair)
  • Merlise Clyde, Professor of Statistical Science (Co-Chair)
  • Leigh-Anne Royster, Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, OIE (Co-Chair)
  • Charmaine Royal, Professor of African & African American Studies (Co-Chair)
  • Mark Anthony Neal, Professor of African & African American Studies (Co-Chair)
  • Hailey Mason, Senior Program Coordinator, OIE (Logistical Lead, Project Manager)