Duke University Alumni Magazine

"You can expect to be mentally stretched, unbent, challenged, and transformed. You can expect deep emotional and spiritual experiences, equally transformative in different ways."

--President Nannerl O. Keohane in her convocation address to the Class of 2000

"Despite the lack of an appropriate political relationship between the two countries, we have shared our history. Because of the willingness of the Cubans to look at the experience in a positive light, the possibilities for such a program to be a success look good."

--Richard White, dean of Trinity College and vice provost for undergraduate education, on a proposed Duke in Havana study abroad program

"I would characterize her as being very talented and very focused. Even those with the most critical eye are unlikely to find blemishes."

--University archivist William King '61, A.M. '63, Ph.D. '70, on his family friend and classmate Elizabeth Hanford Dole '58; her brother is John V. Hanford Jr. '43

"I appreciate that the students respected me. Maybe it's because I'm bald and gray, but they took what I said seriously. I always told them that if they ever blocked the [fire] exits, that's where they would find the bodies in case of a fire, and they listened to me."

-- Recently retired safety officer Roland Nadeau, responsible for overseeing safety procedures during athletic events and dormitory parties

"The Trinity Park Association is not a homeowner's association, it's a neighborhood association. We want representation from homeowners, renters, and student [tenants] alike."

--Don Ball, president of the Trinity Park Association, on the addition of two Duke students to the group's board of directors in response to residents' concerns about crime, litter, speeding cars, and late-night parties in their neighborhoods

"It was a humbling experience to see how nature can be so vicious and devastating."

--Joseph Jackson, assistant director for grounds and sanitation in Duke's grounds and facilities management department, on the aftermath of Hurricane Fran

"When you look at nineteenth-century political rhetoric, you'll see that the kinds of things that people say about each other today are, if anything, a little tame. In the nineteenth century--before television and radio--political oratory was something of an art; people actually viewed standing around listening to speeches for three or four hours as entertainment."

--English professor Ron Butters, on the tendency of campaign speeches to be both aggressively partisan and to lack substantial policy information

What did Hurricane Fran signal about tree resilience?

     Even in this incredible storm, no more than one tree in fifty was lost. The story was how well trees did, not how badly, in a very unusual event.

     If you're a tree, you need sunlight for photosynthesis, which means you're interested in reaching up for the sun. If you're reaching up for the sun, you want to invest your energy in growth. You get tall because you're competing with your fellow trees, who are also trying to get tall: Trees have no way of getting together for a trunk-length limitation treaty.

     So trees place a greater premium on growth than on reproduction; they don't reproduce in their first years. As trees, particularly canopy trees, grow higher, they also grow thicker. Very few acorns grow up into oaks, but a large fraction of ten-year-old oaks grow into thirty-year-old oaks. The tradeoff is between making more acorns and making a bigger and stronger tree.

     What was biologically interesting about the storm is what it showed about trees: If you delay reproduction for twenty or thirty years, you have to crank up your chances of surviving for those twenty or thirty years. And that means not succumbing even to uncommonly severe challenges.

-- Steve Vogel, biomechanic and zoology professor (profiled in this issue)

We asked freshmen in a first-year writing class:

What has most surprised you about life at Duke?

Among the responses:

"The dedication of all students to at least one thing: having a good time."

"The lack of tension between races. I've always had friends of other races, and it's relieving to find it easier to do so here."

"The honesty and the openness of my professors. I was shocked when every single one of them asked me to call them by their first name. My first week at Duke, I was required to see my professor in a performance where she danced naked."

"The weather--the burning, windy weather."

"The student body is the most mainstream I've ever seen. At my high school, most kids walked around in their alterna-garb sporting multiple body pierces and dyed hair. Here everyone seems pretty normal."

"The time it takes to do calculus homework."

"Personally, I was shocked at the magnitude of interesting ideas and discussion that have surrounded me. One needs only leave the shelter of one's room to find stimulating conversation and intelligent people waiting, quite literally, outside your door."

"The restructuring of the East Campus Union--real food!"

"The culture clash of sorts between Duke and the city of Durham."

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