"I've been on guard for some mischief," Kyle Beardsley said, expecting a joke when he received the announcing email on April Fools Day, but he was surprised with delight to hear that he received the 2020 Inclusive Faculty Award from the Duke Graduate & Professional Student Council.
For the past three years, Dr. Beardsley has served as the department's Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), a job that includes carrying on important academic traditions like the End of Year Conference, also known as Beramendi Day, but also steering new social traditions like an annual alumni homecoming event.
The culture of the department, however, is not shaped by capstone events, but rather, daily decisions. “In his role as DGS," graduate student Priscilla Torres notes, “Kyle has made a concerted effort to foster an environment of inclusivity for students and faculty alike. Kyle helped facilitate panels on inclusivity in the department, invited guest speakers to discuss gender biases in the discipline and assisted in shaping our department's Statement on Workplace Environment.”
The process of becoming a scholar is transformational and contributing to a rich field of expertise can be daunting. “Being a PhD student can be stressful and isolating at times” Pei-Yu Wei writes. “He has endless patience,” alumnus Chong Chen remembers. “Patience to listen to and respect our myriad ideas. I knew from day one that I was more than a student to him, but also a colleague and a fellow seeker of knowledge on this shared scientific journey of discovery.”
Dr. Beardsley worked for three years as DGS to acknowledge the pressure graduate students experience and explore ways to help soften it. “I had the privilege to take classes with him and work with him on the speed mentoring event which is illustrative of Kyle's efforts to create an inclusive culture and open environment in the department and at Duke,” alumna Trang Anh Do writes. The speed mentoring event is a project created to develop peer-mentoring opportunities for graduate students (mentees) to gain different perspectives on a set of topics as well as learn various methods for tackling their own individual challenges in their graduate program.
Elliot Mamet, current Ph.D. student, says that Dr. Beardsley has been a force for good by championing the values of “courtesy, respect, and dignity.” These values support graduate students across varying career paths. Trang Anh explains, “He is very supportive of academic as well as non-academic careers paths and makes international students like myself feel very welcomed in the department.”
Pei-Yu Wei agrees. “As a female international student,” Pei-Yu says, “I really appreciate how supportive Kyle has been, particularly in his efforts to advocate for women and students of color.” “Kyle has a strong record of advising both women and women of color like myself at all levels of academia,” Priscilla writes, “which speaks to the lasting legacy that his efforts will surely have in cultivating a more inclusive environment in international relations, conflict studies and the policy world." “And we will miss him as DGS,” Elliot remarks.
Reflecting on his years as DGS, Dr. Beardsley writes, “while I still think I have a ways to go in using my gatekeeping roles, visibility, privilege and authority to support a culture of inclusivity in the department, at Duke, and in the academy, I will forever use this award as a reminder to continuously do better. I thought that being DGS would be a thankless job, but it's been the opposite. I hope that all of you will help hold me accountable going forward. Please do hold me to a higher standard if my errors of commission or omission negatively impact the culture of inclusivity that we are trying to collectively develop together.”