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Last Days of Laurie: A Parting Conversation with Dean Patton about Community and Intellectual Life

April 17th, 2015
12:30 PM


Trinity College of Arts & Sciences Dean Laurie Patton’s commitments to integrative learning, civic engagement, and public scholarship have inspired and enabled a great deal of programming during her tenure at Duke. From the creation of the Forum for Scholars and Publics, to conversations with Duke Service-Learning about integrative learning, to the now annual “Transcripts and Lifescripts Monologues” and “Finding Your Question” events, we have all been touched by her ideas and exhortations.

As Dean Patton prepares to depart, she joined Duke Service-Learning and the Forum for Scholars and Publics for a “kitchen table conversation” about the state of Duke’s intellectual engagement with the community:

  • What lessons have we learned together about the role of public engagement in a liberal arts education?
  • In what ways are we moving toward helping students to create coherent educational pathways that embrace both the curricular and the co-curricular?
  • Have we fully embraced Dean Patton’s observation that Duke needs the community as much, or more than, the community needs Duke?


Laurie Patton

Duke University

Laurie Patton is the Dean of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences at Duke University. Dr. Patton came to Duke in 2011 from Emory, where she was the Charles Howard Candler professor of religions and the inaugural director of Emory’s Center for Faculty Development and Excellence in the office of the Provost. While at Emory, she served as chair of the religion department from 2000-2007, founded and co-convened the Religions and the Human Spirit Strategic Plan, and received the Emory Williams Award—Emory’s most prestigious honor for teaching—in 2005.

A graduate of Harvard (BA) and the University of Chicago (Ph.D.), Dr. Patton is an accomplished scholar and the author or editor of nine books on South Asian history, culture, and religion. In addition, she has translated the classical Sanskrit text, The Bhagavad Gita, and has published two books of poetry. She has lectured widely on interfaith issues, religion, and public life, and consulted with White House offices on faith-based initiatives as well as on civic engagement.  On July 1, Dr. Patton will become president of Middlebury College.