Candis Watts Smith, PhD

Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

Professor of Political Science

Candis Watts Smith, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science, oversees Duke’s Office of Undergraduate Education. The division delivers on Duke's promise of providing undergraduates a transformative education by providing resources and programs for students across Duke's four undergraduate schools: Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, the Pratt School of Engineering, the Sanford School of Public Policy, and the Nicholas School of the Environment. Dr. Smith was appointed interim vice provost in 2023.

Dr. Smith’s expertise highlights the role that race, racism, and structural inequality play in shaping the American political landscape. She is the author or co-author of several books: Black Mosaic: The Politics of Black Pan-Ethnic Identity (NYU Press, 2014), Stay Woke: A People’s Guide to Making Black Lives Matter (NYU Press, 2019); Racial Stasis: The Millennial Generation and the Stagnation of Racial Attitudes in American Politics (University of Chicago Press, 2020); and The History of Race and Politics in America, 1968-Present (an Audible Original, 2022). In addition to dozens of academic and public-facing articles, Smith has given a TED talk on three myths about racism in America that has been viewed over 2 million times and is a co-host of the Democracy Works podcast.

Smith serves as faculty director of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, on the Interdisciplinary Strategy Council, and on the President’s Athletic Council. She and her family live on East Campus, where she serves as Faculty in Residence for the Southgate residence hall.

Before joining Duke in 2021, she served on the faculties of Williams College, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Penn State in departments of political science, public policy, and African & African American Studies.



Ph.D., Duke University

M.A., Duke University

B.A., Duke University


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