Letter to Biostatistics Students


The following message was sent to all students in the Masters of Biostatistics program in the School of Medicine on January 26, 2019.




Dear Masters of Biostatistics Students,

I am writing to you directly to apologize for the message that was sent yesterday by Professor Megan Neely, the director of graduate studies, regarding the use of Chinese and English in the department.  

I understand that many of you felt hurt and angered by this message. To be clear: there is absolutely no restriction or limitation on the language you use to converse and communicate with each other.  Your career opportunities and recommendations will not in any way be influenced by the language you use outside the classroom.  And your privacy will always be protected.

Please be assured that Duke University, the School of Medicine and the Biostatistics Department respect the value of every student, every culture and every language that is spoken.  This rich diversity of cultures and languages at Duke only strengthens our academic community. 

I have asked the university’s Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) to conduct a thorough review of the Master’s of Biostatistics Program and to recommend ways in which we can improve the learning environment for students from all backgrounds. In addition, Dr. Neely has asked to step down as director of graduate studies for the master’s program effective immediately and will be replaced by an interim DGS to be named shortly.

We will always be committed to ensuring that you are welcomed and included in every aspect of university life. Sadly, this matter demonstrates that we must continue to work on overcoming deep-seated concerns about our cultural awareness and understanding.  We take this challenge seriously and you have my personal pledge that it will be addressed quickly and sensitively.


Mary E. Klotman, MD
Dean, Duke University School of Medicine