Between the Lines: January-February 2004


While the cover story documents Duke and the media, it's clear that the university's high profile in the press reflects (and furthers) its impressive trajectory--a trajectory that signals the ambitions and astuteness of Duke's leadership. So it's appropriate, if not entirely intentional, that this issue also focuses on presidents.

One story profiles Doug Knight, Duke's fifth president. His new memoir provides an occasion for reassessing a complex legacy. Knight's time at Duke provides a window into the changing character of the university, as well as larger social and political upheavals. In many ways, he embodied and accelerated Duke's transition from a respectable Southern institution to a university of national and international standing.

Founders' Day, the university's annual celebration of its roots and its accomplishments, put Duke's current president, Nan Keohane, front and center. Keohane was the surprise recipient of a University Medal. As the citation put it, "By every measure--the remarkable qualifications and impressive diversity of entering students, the record number of prestigious international fellowships that they go on to earn, or the ever-enhanced facilities that they live and learn in--Duke is an even better place today than it was ten years ago."

Then, in mid-December, the board of trustees beat their own February deadline and named Duke's new president, Richard H. Brodhead. Brodhead, longtime dean of Yale College and the A. Bartlett Giamatti Professor of English at Yale, said he found metaphorical power in his culminating "stealth tour" of Duke. "What I really loved was the coexistence of tradition and heady forward progress: all those cranes towering over the Gothic buildings, saying that the building phase at Duke is something of the present and the future, not just the past."

Soon Brodhead will have a big role in shaping that future. As he said, "The switch should not be hard." Everything he owns is blue, and he's used to institutions with only four letters in their names.

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