Duke University Alumni Magazine


The fury: one of the hundreds of trees on campus felled by Fran
Photo: Jim Wallace

urricane Fran cut a swath through campus as its eye passed through Durham in early September. The storm toppled 227 "major" trees on campus, including oak, pine, and sweet gum. Another 194 "decorative" trees were flattened, as were hundreds of other smaller trees.

     Trees fell on University Development, Baker House in the medical center, and the "greenhouse" at the Bryan Center. Also, winds knocked down the antenna of student radio station WXDU. Water seeped into some basements and leaked through a few roofs. In Allen Building, water flooded the sub-basement, intruding into space occupied by the Office of Research Support. The East Campus gym was deluged by a broken water main.

     At Duke Chapel, the wind removed one of the limestone pinnacles from the roof, and water managed to seep inside and damage the Aeolian organ in the choir area. Also, parts of the chapel's basement were flooded.

     Evidence of the hurricane's raw power could be seen at Duke Gardens. About a hundred hardwood trees lay strewn around the landscape, snapped in half like kindling. Rushing water eroded several paths and flower beds. The storm claimed a few trees and shrubs that are uncommon in the South: At least five adult Japanese maples, a Golden Chain tree, and a Victorian Water Lily were destroyed or heavily damaged. Some of the worst damage occurred in the Asiatic Garden, where at least two trees fell in the north pond, and in the Blomquist Garden, where a large pine lopped off a corner of the pavilion.

     Extensive damage to trees in Duke Forest caused the 8,000-acre research reserve to be closed to the public for several weeks. The area is a popular locale for outdoor recreation. A top priority was clearing the twenty-five miles of public roads that traverse the forest. Initial surveys showed as much as 70 to 80 percent of timber down in localized areas within the forest's Korstian Division, bounded by Mount Sinai and Whitfield roads in Orange County. There was also flooding along New Hope Creek, which passes through the Korstian Division and crosses Old Erwin Road.

     Advisories about the weather were sent to students via e-mail and Duke's general computer newsgroup. But despite widespread and long-lasting power outages in the area, the Duke campus and the medical center--with the exception of a few offices--retained electrical power throughout Hurricane Fran. Most of the campus is served by the university's own underground distribution system, so it's not vulnerable to falling trees. "Most of the folks on campus had no idea there was a hurricane going on," said Facilities Management Director Jerry Black after the storm. "They had lights, air conditioning, hot water, cable TV from Duke's own system, and plenty of food."


hree new trustees have been elected to Duke's thirty-seven member board of trustees. Robert T. Harper '76, J.D. '79, a Pittsburgh attorney and president of the Duke Alumni Association, has been elected to a two-year term. His first year will be spent as a non-voting member; he will be an active member the second year, following his DAA presidency. Harper practices law with the firm Klett Lieber Rooney & Schorling. He is on the boards of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, and the Pittsburgh Symphony Society.

     Shavar D. Jeffries '96 has been elected young trustee to represent the Duke Student Government on the board. He will spend the first year of his three-year term as a non-voting observer. As an undergraduate, Jeffries was president of the Black Student Alliance and received several leadership and academic scholarships and awards, including a William Griffith University Service Award. He is now attending law school at Columbia University.

     Susan A. Timberlake, nominated by the Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC), has been elected to a three-year term. She is also a young trustee, and will have full voting rights. She earned her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at Princeton University and is completing the Ph.D. program in biomedical engineering at Duke.


fficials at the Duke University Museum of Art (DUMA) and The Museo del Prado in Madrid, which houses some of the word's foremost art collections, have created an exchange program for art students and curators. The initiative is the first of its kind for both institutions.

     The idea for the program emerged when Jose Maria Luzon Nogue became the Prado's director in 1993. Nogue, who had spent a year at Duke as a visiting scholar in the early Seventies, said he had found the experience enriching and beneficial to his career, and wished the same opportunity were available for other Spanish students. Not long after he assumed the presidency of the Prado, he contacted DUMA director Michael Mezzatesta about the possibility of a joint project. Mezzatesta met with Annabel Wharton, chair of the art and art history department, who suggested an exchange of scholars.

     One scholar from each institution par- ticipates in the program annually. At Duke, Spanish scholars conduct research and teach classes in their field. At the Prado, the approach is slightly different; visiting scholars focus on research, exhibit preparation, and conservancy efforts. The Prado is government-owned and is not closely connected with any Spanish universities, so the emphasis for Duke scholars is more on the museum's inner workings than on teaching.

     Among the Prado's holdings is the world's largest collection of twelfth- to nineteenth-century Spanish paintings, with El Greco, Velasquez, and Goya strongly represented. Flemish masterpieces such as Bosch's "Garden of Earthly Delights" and Rubens' "Three Graces," as well as many important examples by sixteenth-century Venetian master Titian, are also in the collections, reflecting the Spanish monarchies' taste. In all, the Prado owns 19,000 works.


t least one person now living in the United States should survive to the ripe old age of 130 or 135, say two Duke researchers. Kenneth Manton and Eric Stallard of the Center for Demographic Studies spent four years compiling and analyzing U.S. mortality data from 1960 to 1990 to reach their conclusion. The findings from the study, funded by the National Institute on Aging, appears in the September issue of the Journal of Gerontology. Such aging patterns have important public-policy implications for government programs, notably Social Security and Medicare.

     "When you look at the trajectory of changes--mortality trends--in the population at very advanced ages, it looks like the lifespan's theoretical limits will be 130 or more," says Manton. "One could project a higher figure on other grounds--by medical research or things like genetic re-engineering or treatments of various diseases. But if you're talking about taking current population trends and extrapolating them on what is a reasonably conservative basis, you would say it probably has to be 130 or 135."

     The oldest living person whose age can be documented reliably is a 121-year-old woman in France. Other unsubstantiated claims have people living to as old as 126. The longer that reliable statistical systems such as Social Security and Medicare are in place, the easier it will be to verify such ages in the future. The number of centenarians in America has increased from between three to four thousand in 1960 to fifty- to fifty-five thousand in 1995, a growth rate of about 7 percent each year for the last thirty-five years. Likewise, the number of people 110 years or older has increased in that time frame, and today there are anywhere from several hundred to a thousand people who have passed their 110th birthday.

     There is no indication that there is a "biological brick wall," or specific age beyond which no human could live, says Manton. "Having a wall just means there would be some simple process where all of the cells and the organs in the body would just give up the ghost at once." Even people who believe that the lifespan is genetically determined would concur that multiple factors are involved in determining the maximum lifespan, he says.

     Researchers say that several factors have contributed to the expanding age limit, including positive changes in lifestyle and diet, better medical care, and advances in research and technology to treat diseases and conditions such as heart disease, strokes, and certain cancers.


uke jumped two places to fourth in the nation among 229 national universities in the U.S. News & World Report annual rankings. Yale and Princeton were in a tie for first; Harvard, which was first last year, ranked No. 3. After Duke at No. 4 came M.I.T., Stanford, Dartmouth, and Brown. The California Institute of Technology and Northwestern tied for ninth. Duke, which was ranked sixth last year, switched places with Stanford, which was fourth last year.

     To determine the rankings, the magazine tallied the results of 2,730 surveys of college presidents, deans, and admissions directors (with a response rate of 65 percent). The educators were asked to rank the reputation of schools in the same category as their own institution; those rankings were combined with data provided by the schools that covered student selectivity, faculty resources, financial resources, student-retention rate, and alumni giving. This year the survey included a new criterion--"value added" --meant to represent the value a school adds between freshman orientation and graduation.

     President Nan Keohane says the survey "confirms what we know about the quality of our faculty and students and the quality of the educational experience we offer undergraduates." While "having the Duke undergraduate experience ranked fourth in the country is welcome," such assessments "should be only one factor in a student's decision about where to attend college," she says.

     Earlier, U.S. News & World Report again ranked Duke Hospital fifth best in the nation in its "America's Best Hospitals" issue. The magazine's honor role placed Johns Hopkins first, the Mayo Clinic second, Massachusetts General third, and the UCLA Medical Center fourth.

     In the specialty listings, the hospital placed twelfth in AIDS research, eighth in cancer, fourth in cardiology, fourteenth in endocrinology, sixth in gynecology, eighth in neurology, fifth in orthopedics, sixteenth in otolaryngology, sixth in rheumatology, seventh in urology, ninth in ophthalmology, fifteenth in pediatrics, and twelfth in psychiatry. Duke was not listed in the top twenty in rehabilitation.


  • Alana Ennis, chief of the university's police department, is the first president of the newly formed National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives. She was chosen by a group of women occupying top law-enforcement posts across the country. The organization, the first of its kind in the United States, was created to help greater numbers of women move up law-enforcement ranks and to encourage those who had reached the top to serve as mentors. Ennis joined Duke in 1995.


  • Lawrence McCleskey '62, M.Div. '66, Ray W. Chamberlain M.Div. '70, and Michael Coyner M.Div. '74 were among seven new bishops in the United Methodist Church's election of episcopal leaders in July. Elected for life, bishops in the church become members of the Council of Bishops and are assigned by a jurisdictional committee to oversee an episcopal area. William Willimon, dean of Duke Chapel and a Divinity School faculty member, was a candidate for the episcopacy until he withdrew from the running.


  • Bobby Wayne Clark, former director of public information and publications at Wesleyan University, has been named director of university relations. Before Wesleyan, he was associate editor of Brown University's news service. He earned his undergraduate degree in English from Brown and his master's in English from Boston University. Clark replaces David Roberson, who is now director of communications for The Duke Endowment.

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