Duke University Alumni Magazine

What book do you have on your nightstand, one you're reading or ready to read when time permits?

Psychology professor Robert C. Carson says he recently finished Angela's Ashes: A Memoir, by Frank McCourt. "As a grandson of four Irish immigrants, I have never encountered anything close to a better understanding of my direct progenitors, my other relatives, of the kids I grew up with and their parents, of Irish Catholicism, or of the plight of the Irish in their own homeland."

Robert S. Shepard, associate vice president and executive director of development, combines business with pleasure reading. "I have the opportunity to travel to Asia with President Keohane in May 1998. Instead of the standard Guide to Asian Culture one finds in book stores, I'm reading an insightful and wonderfully written little book on Japanese education and culture. It's titled Learning To Bow."

Professor emerita and author Helen Bevington says she is reading several books, but that Montaigne's Essays "is my favorite reading. I keep coming back to it." Considered the "French Shakespeare," and a contemporary of the Bard, Montaigne "invented the essay, which means 'trial or attempt.' His essays are easy," says Bevington. "I think anyone would like them."

Ralph Snyderman, chancellor for health affairs and dean of the medical school, is reading One Blood: The Death and Resurrection of Charles R. Drew, by Spencie Love Ph.D. '90. The book "portrays the life of the highly regarded African-American surgeon and his tragic death in an auto accident in nearby Alamance County. This story is intertwined with a similarly tragic auto accident that killed an African-American college student named Malthus Avery in Alamance County as well. Both these deaths involved Duke through actual events or myths that arose soon after the incidents." He describes it as "a fascinating documentation of North Carolina and the South

in the early Fifties, the tragic consequences of segregation policies, and the relation between legend and fact."

"Of course, a race-blind society is the ideal, but this society is not race-blind, and we cannot afford to treat it as such. By increasing the number of black undergraduates, graduate students, and professors, we can, however, begin to take strides toward an environment in which black students no longer feel they have to stage a protest to make their voices heard."
-- from an editorial in The Chronicle reacting to the Black Student Alliance's sit-in at Allen Building outside President Nannerl O. Keohane's office to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of a sit-in by black students protesting university use of segregated facilities "Exposure to difference--whether cultural, social, or racial, and including differences in ideas and perspectives--plays an essential role in the education of all students, both minority and majority. Too often diversity is seen as something that serves only minority students. It serves majority students every bit as much, bringing those in the dominant group to far greater understanding of the complexity and richness of human endeavor and experience."
-- President Nannerl O. Keohane, in remarks to President Bill Clinton's Commission on Race and its panel on the value of diversity in higher education "My dream for what I wanted to do in my life was to be a college coach. With people's dreams, if you're fortunate that they actually become a reality, you're lucky. My reality is better than my dream."
-- Mike Krzyzewski, men's basketball coach, in response to Chicago Tribune writer Gene Wojciechowski's plea that he come back to Chicago to coach the Bulls

We asked fifteen first-year students:
What is the biggest surprise you've encountered since you've been at Duke?

After completing only one semester of experiencing not only a new school but a new home, new friends, and a whole new style of living, the freshmen we polled met a range of surprises. Several students found it in the classroom. Carolyn Davis said she was impressed by the accessibility of her professors. "The teachers are very helpful, especially considering the size of some of the classes I have."

Economically, some were faced with the shock of living without their parents' pockets. "Money disappears very quickly," said Jennifer Bassler. "I have seven cents left on my food account."

But the biggest surprises came on the social front. Some found the city of Durham not as lively as they had hoped. " The biggest surprise is the town, or lack thereof. If you really need something, you need to drive because there's not much on Ninth Street," said Liz Jacobs.

But others think Duke basketball provides enough entertainment. Rob Grant said he was impressed by the enthusiasm of the student body in Cameron Indoor Stadium. "The crowd was really in sync. I think that is symbolic of the student body outside of Cameron. There is a sense of community on campus that is very healthy for a college."

That unity, however, is not always present on a day-to-day basis. "The groups still segregate themselvesĐit's the same feeling as there was in high school," said Dan Bierenbaum. Others found homogeneity. "You would expect a ton of diversity in terms of culture, ethnicity, race," said Adam Hudes. "People here do not vary much in their backgrounds, politics, outlooks."

Politically, some students did not encounter what they expected. Keith Cascio, for example, said, "I came from New York, the bastion of liberal politics. I expected to find intense liberal activity on campus and a general liberal attitude among the vast majority of students. However, I was surprised to find a pleasing conservative tendency; I agree with many students on many issues."

Aside from social aspects, other students found major changes in living styles since coming to college. Richard Pearsall enjoys the freedom: "You make all decisions by yourself. You don't have to tell anyone where you're going or when you're coming back."

--compiled by Jaime Levy '01

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