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Common Ground Series panel discussion on diversity in education will feature NYU and Cal-Berkeley sociologist Troy Duster. Tuesday, March 4, 2008

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — New York University professor of sociology Troy Duster will provide opening remarks and be a panelist for a discussion of "Diversity: New Definitions for a New Century" on Tuesday, March 4, at 5:30 p.m., in the Villard Room of the College Center. For this program in the college's Common Ground series, Duster will be joined by Vassar panelists Pinar Batur, an associate professor of sociology, and Tyrone Simpson, an assistant professor of English. Dean of the College and associate professor of education Judy "J.J." Jackson will moderate the event, which is free and open to the public.

Conversations in the Common Ground series explore affirmative action, social justice, and other aspects of gender and racial equality. To begin the panel discussion, Duster will address the marginalized role of diversity in school curriculums. He suggests, for example, that to promote multiculturalism among changing student bodies, college faculty must embrace non-traditional teaching methods, and confront what he calls "the stratification of cultures."


Troy Duster is a professor of sociology and Director of the Institute for the History of the Production of Knowledge at New York University, as well as Chancellor’s Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 1970. His research and writing range widely across the sociology of law, science, deviance, inequality, race, and education. He most recently co-authored Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society (2003), which won the Benjamin Hooks Award, and was a finalist in 2004 for the C. Wright Mills Award. Additionally, Duster has been an editor for Theory and Society, Sociological Inquiry, Contemporary Sociology, and The American Sociologist.

The recipient of numerous academic accolades, Duster is currently a member of the Social Science Research Council. Previously, he served on committees for the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association of Law Schools, and was chair of the Ethical, Legal and Social Issues Committee of the Human Genome Project. Duster has also received a Guggenheim Fellowship at the London School of Economics, an honorary Doctor of Letters from Williams College, and the DuBois-Johnson-Frazier Award from the American Sociological Association.


The director of the International Studies program at Vassar College, Pinar Batur earned her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1992. Her books include Global Color Line, edited with Joe Feagin (1999) and White Racism, co-authored with Joe Feagin and Hernan Vera (2001). Her research and teaching interests include global racism and anti-racist social movements, urban environment, and the relationship between scientific knowledge and policy making, and the meaning of risk in the 21st century. Batur has received grants for research and teaching from SSRC, IREX, the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center, the Hoover Institution, Guggenheim Foundation, AAC&U, SENCER and the Dreyfus Foundation.


In addition to his role in the Department of English, Tyrone Simpson teaches in the multidisciplinary programs of Urban Studies, Africana Studies, and the program in American Culture. His research is equally varied, and has written about working class populism in Kansas, illegal imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay, and postmodern African-American comedy. Simpson is currently completing the manuscript Under Psychic Apartheid: Literary Ghettoes and the Making of Race in the Twentieth Century American Metropolis. In 2004, he received the Carter G. Woodson Pre-Doctoral Fellowship in African and African American Studies at the University of Virginia, and currently holds a Career Enhancement Fellowship for Minority Scholars from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.


Judy "J.J." Jackson was appointed Dean of the College in July 2004, and supervises a broad array of Vassar departments and offices, including academic and career advising, off-campus study, health and disability services, multicultural services, campus activities, equal opportunity and affirmative action, student employment, religious and spiritual life, campus dining, and campus security.

Prior to Vassar, Jackson was Associate Vice President for Student Affairs at New York University, where she worked as a member of the University Leadership Team, with a special charge to advance a wide range of diversity initiatives, including student retention, academic engagement, and strengthening links to global programs. At Babson College she was Executive Assistant to the President and Clerk of the Corporation, and during 11 years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology her positions included Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs & Director of Minority Education, ombudsman in the President's Office, and Special Advisor to the Provost on Faculty Diversity. She has also held administrative posts at Cornell University and Bucknell University, and taught at Susquehanna University. Jackson earned a doctorate in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy, with a concentration in higher education, from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, after an interdepartmental Master's degree in Francophone African Literature, Geography, and Foreign Policy from Bucknell University, and a B.A. in French Language and Literature from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro.

The offices of the Dean of the Faculty and the Dean of the College collaborate on the Common Ground series as part of Vassar's ongoing effort to foster inclusiveness in its campus community. This event is also sponsored by the Department of Sociology, Office of Campus Life, ALANA Center, and the office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.

Posted by Office of Communications Tuesday, February 26, 2008