Duke University Alumni Magazine


aising the normal retirement age in the United States to seventy could save the federal government billions of dollars each year and help shore up the ailing Social Security trust fund over the long term, according to two university researchers. And such a scenario is plausible, given that Americans are enjoying longer, healthier lives, say Duke demography research professor Kenneth G. Manton and actuary H. Dennis Tolley of Brigham Young University.

     The two estimate that the Social Security trust fund could save roughly $50 billion to $60 billion on each year's group of workers by requiring them to wait until age seventy to receive full Social Security benefits, instead of the current retirement age of sixty-five.

     And those savings "only represent part of the benefit of such an increase in retirement age in that not only would expenditures not be made, but persons who did continue to work would contribute to revenues through income and other taxes," the two researchers wrote in a report prepared for the Social

     Security Administration, which funded the study. They said that each year of age increase in the retirement age decreases payments for a year and increases revenue for a year.

     With baby boomers approaching retirement age, the federal government must act to meet the future needs of the Social Security trust fund, Manton says. "Assuming that fertility stays at a fairly moderate level and you get these large baby boom cohorts becoming eligible in 2011--when they first pass age sixty-five--something more than a simple tax rate change has to be done. Or if you do it only by a tax increase, then you get a very high tax burden that could potentially slow down growth of the U.S. economy."

     Manton also notes that when the Social Security system was established in the mid-1930s, people did not live as long and, therefore, had fewer years of retirement. Now that people live longer than was initially contemplated when the program was created, the government must develop a policy that reflects the reality of changing life expectancy and health status.

     The average life expectancy in the United States today is about 75.5 years--slightly over seventy-three for men and about seventy-nine for women. The average life expectancy was 61.7 when Social Security was passed into law in 1935.


new non-partisan, interdisciplinary center has been established at the law school to examine, among other major issues, the negative image citizens have of Congress. The Center for the Study of the Congress, co-chaired by law faculty members Ted Kaufman B.S.M.E. '60 and Chris Schroeder, will draw on expertise at Duke and neighboring universities and conduct regular activities both on campus and in Washington, D.C.

     Former Republican U.S. Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker and former Democratic U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell both endorsed the center's mission. "Congress is the keystone of our representative government," Baker says. "The democratic process cannot remain healthy if the Congress continues to be held in low regard by the American public." Says Mitchell, "The healthy skepticism Americans have traditionally had for their government has recently become unhealthy cynicism. Duke Law School should be commended for establishing the Center for the Study of Congress to evaluate and address this growing problem."

     According to co-chair Schroeder, "Changes in committee structure, or procedures for voting, or even in campaign finance rules are only part of the picture. There is a dynamic at work in Congress' relationship to the public that accentuates the negative in the Congress and in reporting about the Congress, creating significant problems of perception that only compound the real problems."

     Much of the new center's work will focus on three issues: identifying the differences between real deficiencies with the Congress and public misperception; improving public understanding of how and why negative interpretations of actions by the Congress predominate; and undertaking concrete, practical projects to supply accurate, non-partisan, and educational material about the Congress.

     Kaufman and Schroeder bring considerable congressional experience to the center. For the past six years, each has taught law courses analyzing the workings of Congress. Kaufman worked for twenty-two years as chief of staff to Delaware Democrat senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. Schroeder has had associations with the Senate Judiciary Committee since 1986, most recently as its chief counsel, and is acting assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice until the end of the year. The center's bipartisan advisory board is composed of people with significant experience on and around Capitol Hill.


hile the Sarah P. Duke Gardens are renowned for their spectacular flora and fauna, it is the only public garden of its caliber in the country that lacks public indoor space. Supporters of the gardens have wanted to build some kind of center for nearly a decade, and now it looks as though their wishes will be realized.

     In October, the university announced a fund-raising campaign to finance The Center for Duke Gardens, a visitors and education site. The center, which is expected to be about 18,000 square feet, will be located in the existing parking lot near the gardens' main gate on West Campus. Construction is expected to begin in early 1998 and take twelve to eighteen months.

     The $5.2-million fund-raising goal includes the cost of the buildings that comprise the center, an endowment for their maintenance and operation, and funds for the gardens' education program. Upon completion, the center will contain classrooms, conference space, a teaching greenhouse, a horticultural library, offices, and space for public and private events. Gardens' administrators will use the center to improve and increase the number of educational tours offered to school children. There will also be meeting rooms for garden clubs and adult evening classes, as well as space for special displays and exhibits.

     Designed by Atkin, Olshin, Lawson-Bell & Associates of Philadelphia, the center will be understated so it will not compete with the beauty of the gardens. Design plans show a series of connected buildings, and a landscaped parking lot with a 200-car capacity will be added near the gardens' main gate in a tract now occupied by the gardens' offices and service areas.

     Already, $3.4 million has been raised toward the center's goal, including major gifts from The Duke Endowment and the F.M. Kirby Foundation of Morristown, New Jersey.


stone-carved memorial honoring the Duke family for generations of major contributions to the university and significant participation in campus life was unveiled in September in Duke Chapel. The new tribute, located in the chapel's intimate Memorial Chapel, was designed to honor present and future generations of Duke family members who support the university. The wall carving, "Duke in Memoriam," lists philanthropist Doris Duke as its first honoree. She is the deceased daughter of Duke founder James Buchanan Duke and the first of the third generation of Duke family members to be recognized in the chapel.

     Already interred in Memorial Chapel--and portrayed in statues and art across campus--are family patriarch and university namesake Washington Duke, responsible in large part for the relocation of Trinity College to Durham in 1892, and his two sons, James B. and Benjamin Newton. Trinity College became Duke University in 1924 when James B. Duke signed the Duke Indenture that also created The Duke Endowment.

     President Nannerl O. Keohane presided over the ceremony, a private unveiling attended by approximately fifty family members, university administrators and trustees, and trustees for The Duke Endowment and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Keohane is a member of the board of trustees for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The stone carving was furnished by the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.

     Participants in the dedication service included several members of the fourth generation of the Duke family, among them, Mary D.B.T. Semans '39, the granddaughter of Benjamin Duke and the chair of The Duke Endowment. A Durham resident, Semans and her husband, James Semans, remain most closely involved in the day-to-day life of the university. Her cousin, Anthony Drexel Duke of New York, a Duke trustee emeritus, Duke parent, and grandson of Benjamin Duke, also spoke. Others attending were J. Carter Brown, director emeritus of the National Gallery of Art, representing the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; and L. Neil Williams '58, J.D. '61, former chair of the university's board of trustees and a trustee emeritus.


uke's geology department will move next year to the Nicholas School of the Environment as part of a brand- new Division of Earth Sciences. This is the first formal division created since the Nicholas School was created in 1991 when the Duke Marine Laboratory in Beaufort and the School of Forestry and Environmental Science were combined.

     The Earth Sciences division will include faculty studying not only geology but also ocean and atmospheric sciences. Additional divisions still in the planning stages include economics and policy, ecosystems science and conservation, and environmental quality and health. Some of the ten faculty members

     with primary appointments in the geology department--currently part of Duke's Trinity College of Arts and Sciences--already have joint appointments in the Nicholas School. Some Nicholas School faculty, in turn, have joint appointments in geology.

     Though it teaches undergraduates, the Nicholas School until now has offered degrees only at the master's and Ph.D. levels and concentrated on training professionals in environmental management. The geology department offers geology majors a more traditional bachelor of science degree, plus follow-up training leading to a research-oriented Ph.D. While the school will develop a curriculum for a new bachelor of science degree in environmental sciences, traditional bachelor's and Ph.D. degree training in geology will be offered in the Earth Sciences division.


esearchers at Duke Medical Center have found that the very population most likely to be affected by legalizing physician-assisted suicide is the group that favors it the least. In a survey of 168 frail, elderly patients at Duke's geriatric evaluation and treatment clinic, researchers found that 39.9 percent favored physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. In contrast, 59.3 percent of the patients' relatives--146 spouses, children, and siblings--favored the same measure under the same circumstance.

     Neither group felt as favorable toward assisted suicide for patients with chronic illness or mental disability, says psychiatrist Harold Koenig, lead investigator of the study. And there was little evidence that overburdened caretaker relatives were more likely to favor assisted suicide. "To the best of our knowledge, ours is the first systematic study in a clinical setting to examine attitudes of frail, elderly patients and families toward physician-assisted suicides," he says. Results of his study, co-written by Diane Wildman-Hanlon and Kenneth Schmader, were published in an October issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

     Supported by the National Institute of Mental Health's Clinical Research Center for the Study of Psychopathology in the Elderly, the survey also showed that the types of patients most opposed to the idea were those most vulnerable to external influence and who had the least control over their circumstances. These patients generally included women, blacks, poorly educated patients, and patients with mild to moderate dementia. Those with severe mental or physical handicaps were excluded from the study.

     "These findings are provocative and of great concern because the frail, elderly, poorly educated, and demented members of our society have little power to influence public policy that may directly affect them," says Koenig. "If physician-assisted suicide is made legal, then this population may warrant special protective measures."

     Koenig undertook his research because he felt there was a lack of data on how elderly people feel toward physician-assisted suicide, a controversial issue now stirring public and professional debate. Considerable research has been done on attitudes toward this measure--most of it showing that two-thirds of adults approve of it--but the respondents were generally healthy and younger than age sixty. "This is the group least likely to be affected either personally or by public policy changes in this area," he says.

     However, he cautions that additional research should be conducted in other parts of the country to rule out variables that might be distinctive to this particular population. For example, the majority of patients in the Duke survey were white women with conservative Protestant religious backgrounds who had significant physical and/or mental health problems. Thirteen percent of the patients were black, and the mean age of the patients was seventy-six. Compared to older adults in the United States, patients in the Duke survey were relatively well-educated and financially secure, yet substantially more frail in their general health status.

     Koenig says that patients who felt more favorable toward assisted suicide tended to be male, white, better educated, and less cognitively impaired. Older female patients, and those with more conservative religious backgrounds, tended to feel less favorable toward assisted suicide. Factors that did not affect attitudes toward assisted suicide included marital status, living situation, psychiatric disorders other than dementia, and physical health status. Although patients were not asked for the reasons behind their responses, those who were in favor often volunteered the opinion that assisted suicide would relieve their pain and suffering. Those opposed to it often cited religious beliefs.


omeo, a rare lemur housed at the Duke Primate Center, will remain a bachelor for the time being. On a fall trip to Madagascar, university primatologists had intended to capture a mate for Romeo, the only diademed sifaka in captivity. The scientists say there's an urgent need to establish a captive breeding colony of the animals because of the threat of extinction from hunting and habitat destruction.

     Primate Center director Ken Glander says the expedition dramatically showed how much pressure the endangered animals are under. "Although we saw groups of animals on five of our eight days in the forest," he says, "the instant the saw us, they would run away. We also found a lot of lemur traps and extensive cutting of trees." Glander says his observations support the accuracy of estimates that the diademed sifaka will be extinct in about twenty years. In fact, the forest where Romeo was captured three years ago was heavily logged with no lemurs in sight.

     The capture effort will continue, says Glander. The aim of the expeditions is to capture a mate for Romeo, as well as another breeding pair. Once captured, the animals will be temporarily housed at the Ivoloina Zoological Park in Madagascar, where they will be gradually acclimated to a diet resembling that available at the Duke Primate Center in Durham. The center at Duke is the only university-operated facility that concentrates solely on studying and protecting prosimians such as lemurs, lorises, and tarsiers.

     Prosimians, or "submonkeys," are descended from primates that also were ancestors

     to the anthropoids, a suborder that includes monkeys, apes, and humans. Thus, studying prosimians can yield insights into the early

     history of human ancestors. Lemurs, isolated on Madagascar for more than 50 million years, evolved into almost fifty species, including about sixteen species of giant lemurs that are now extinct. Human population increases on the island republic off Africa's east coast now threaten many species.


Disempowered tower: WXDU's transmission radius curtailed by Hurricane Fran
Photo: Jim Beach

urricane Fran wreaked another casualty: the thirteen-year-old radio tower belonging to WXDU, the student-run station. At the time, the station had already started raising money to upgrade its existing antenna, which could only transmit within a limited broadcast area. Now, staff members and volunteers must replace the entire tower at an estimated cost of nearly $100,000.

     Although insurance reimbursement money and funds from the University Union will help subsidize the cost, the station has also been sponsoring a series of fund-raisers on campus and in the community to reach its goal. Corporate and private grants and donations are also being sought.

     Located in the Bivins Building on East Campus, WXDU is being broadcast temporarily from a nearby, fifty-foot smoke stack; it has just a three- to five-mile radius. Station officials say that the new tower will be 320 feet high, vastly improving the station's broadcast capabilities. Run entirely by students and members of the local community, WXDU has a programming format that is eclectic, including jazz, country, blues, indie rock, industrial, techno, and world music.


  • Alvis R. Swinney, former senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Baylor Health Care System in Dallas, is vice chancellor for business development and marketing, a newly created position, at Duke Medical Center. During his eleven years at Baylor, he helped build it into one of the largest nonprofit health-care systems in Texas. Swinney was selected after a seven-month national search.


  • Melinda French Gates '86, M.B.A. '87 has been elected to Duke's board of trustees, filling the five-year term left vacant when Rex Adams '62 accepted the deanship at the Fuqua School of Business. Gates went to work for the Microsoft Corporation in 1987, serving as both product manager and general man-ager with oversight responsibilities for the development of many of Microsoft's multi-media products. She also worked on several of the company's other software programs, including Microsoft Word for MS-DOS and for Windows, Microsoft Works, and Micro- soft Publisher. Before retiring earlier this year, she was general manager of information products. Her husband is Bill Gates, founder, chair, and chief operating officer of Microsoft Corporation.


  • At the fall meeting of the American Political Science Association, the prestigious Woodrow Wilson Prize went to Duke political scientist Herbert Kitschelt, a specialist on political party systems in Eastern and Western Europe, for his book, The Radical Right in Western Europe: A Comparative Analysis. The honor recognizes the best book in the field of government, politics, or international affairs. Another Duke professor, John Aldrich, an authority on contemporary American politics, won the association's Gladys M. Kammerer Award for his book, Why Parties? The Origin and Transformation of Party Politics in America. He was also recognized for a paper he co-wrote on legislative politics. The Kammerer Award honors the best political science publication in the field of U.S. national policy. Two graduate students also won honors: Torben Iverson won the Gabriel Almond Award for the best comparative political thesis, and Clark Gibson won the award for the best dissertation on political economy.


  • James Wulforst is Duke's new director of dining services, succeeding Wes Newman B.S.E. '78. Wulforst was director of conferences and restaurants at the Time-Warner Building in New York, a $9-million operation in Rockefeller Center serving such magazines as Sports Illustrated, Life, Time, and Money.

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