You are here

Sociologist Linda Burton to lead Duke Center for Child and Family Policy

June 6, 2017

Linda Burton, the James B. Duke Professor of Sociology in Trinity College of Arts & Sciences and dean of social sciences, will become director of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy effective July 1, announced Sanford School of Public Policy Dean Kelly Brownell. She will also hold a joint faculty appointment in the Sanford School.

Burton succeeds William McDougall Professor of Public Policy Studies Kenneth A. Dodge, the founding director of the center.

Burton is an ethnographer who specializes in large-scale, longitudinal studies of poverty and intergenerational family dynamics in both rural and urban environments. Her work has been nationally recognized, most recently with a Distinguished Career Award from the American Sociological Association, the Inaugural Wiley Alexis Walker Award for Outstanding Research in Family Science, and the Family Research Consortium IV Legacy Award.

“Linda Burton is one of the most inspired scholars and leaders I know, and her passion to help children and families is impressive,” Brownell said. “She has a keen interest in linking scholarship with public policy. The Center for Child and Family Policy will be in most capable hands.”

The center, established at the Sanford School in 1999, works to discover and evaluate strategies for improving the lives of children and families, and to share those findings with policymakers and public agencies. Dodge, a clinical and developmental psychologist who earned his Ph.D. at Duke in 1978, has led the center since its inception.

Dodge has published more than 500 scientific articles that have been cited more than 75,000 times. He was elected into the National Academy of Medicine in 2015, and is president-elect of the Society for Research in Child Development. In addition to public policy he holds an appointment in the department of psychology and neuroscience. He will remain on the Duke faculty.

Under his leadership, CCFP has produced influential research on child maltreatment, early childhood development and education, violence prevention, adolescents and drug use, and other critical topics. He also led the creation of a nurse home-visiting program, Durham Connects, which is being replicated nationwide. The CFP has 70 employees and more than 40 affiliated faculty fellows and receives approximately $7 million in grant funding each year.

“We are extremely fortunate that Professor Burton will direct the center,” Dodge said. “She is our nation’s leading ethnographer of children and families living in poverty, and she will bring her leadership skills to help the center contribute to the public good.”

Burton was appointed dean of social sciences in July 2014 and will complete her term in August 2017. She came to Duke in 2006 from Penn State University where she was Professor of Human Development and Family Studies and Sociology and directed a research center on family diversity and context. She was named a James B. Duke Professor in 2007 and has served as director of the undergraduate honors program and director of undergraduate studies in the sociology department.

Burton holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in sociology from the University of Southern California and a B.A. in gerontology. She has more than two decades of administrative experience, having led two National Institute of Mental Health consortia and postdoctoral training programs, as well as large-scale federally and foundation-funded studies of poverty, family processes and human development across the life course. 

Burton serves on several editorial boards and was recently a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Child Maltreatment Research, Policy, and Practice for the Next Decade; the Committee on the Science of Research on Families for the Institute of Medicine; the advisory board of the National Center for Marriage and Family Research; the board of directors for the Family Process Institute; and the board of directors for the Council on Contemporary Families.

She has also completed terms as a member of the National Research Council’s Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences’ Board on Children, Youth, and Families, and several National Institutes of Health study sections. She is a Gerontological Society of America Fellow and president-elect of the Sociological Research Association.

Psychologist Harris Cooper will serve as interim dean of the social sciences division in Trinity College of Arts & Sciences.