Duke University Alumni Magazine


PBS' Rose: delivering Founders' Day address
Photo: Chris Hildreth

t the eleventh annual Founders' Day Convocation in December, Emmy Award-winning television journalist and talk show host Charlie Rose '64, J.D. '68 delivered the major address. The Henderson, North Carolina, native is the host of Charlie Rose, a popular PBS program that features interviews with heads of state, artists and performers, politicians, scientists, and others five nights a week. He has also worked on Bill Moyers' international Report, Bill Moyers' Journal, and U.S.A.: People and Politics; was a political correspondent for NBC News in Washington, D.C.; and anchored Nightwatch, the CBS late-night interview show.

     Founders' Day, which celebrates the 1924 signing by industrialist-philanthropist James B. Duke of the Indenture of Trust that created the university, is also the occasion for recognizing a number of people who have made significant contributions to the university community. Vice President Emeritus William J. Griffith '50, a forty-year university administrator and staunch champion of student interests, and cardiologist and medical school professor Eugene Stead, architect of the nation's first physician-assistant program, were awarded the University Medal for Distinguished Meritorious Service, Duke's highest service award. Recipients are chosen by the university president, based on the recommendations of a special committee.

     Griffith, still seen at campus functions five years after his retirement as vice president for student affairs, has been active since his undergraduate days. He made his mark as a member of the Men's Freshman Advisory Council, the national leadership society Omicron Delta Kappa, and the top campus honorary society Red Friars. He served as president of the Inter-fraternity Council, captain of the cross-country team, and co-chair of Religious Emphasis Week. After graduation, he worked for two years as a field secretary in the office of undergraduate admissions before departing for a brief stint in business. He was back on campus by 1954, when he was named director of the Student Union and director of student activities.

     Through the years, he filled a number of increasingly responsible posts: assistant to the provost and assistant dean of arts and sciences in 1963, dean of student affairs and assistant provost in 1969, and vice president for student affairs in 1979. A film theater in the Bryan Center bears his name and, in honor of his retirement, students dedicated a community service work-a-thon involving 900 students, faculty, employees, and Durham residents to Griffith and his wife, Carol Topham Griffith R.N. '52.

     Medal recipient Stead, a Decatur, Georgia, native, earned his bachelor's anat medical degrees from Emory University. By the time he was thirty-two, he was chair of Emory's department of medicine. He became increasingly fascinated by American medicine's move away from the descriptive era to one in which all the sciences were enlisted in determining the causes of disease and providing a more rational basis for treatment. He also established himself in the field of cardiac research.

     In 1947, he came to Duke, where he was named Florence McAlister Professor of Medicine and physician-in-chief for Duke Hospital. Stead served as mentor for generations of physicians, training them in his patient- centered philosophy. In 1974, he received the Duke Medical Alumni Association's Distinguished Teaching Award. In the last decade of his chairing the department of medicine, he expressed concern that too many physicians could not find sufficient help for their patients. That led him to establish the first physician-assistant program in the United States. He was honored by his profession -- now represented by more than sixty educational programs and 25,000 practitioner members -- when his birthday was designated "National Physician Assistant Day."

     A number of faculty members were recognized as well. Craufurd D.W. Goodwin, James B. Duke Professor of Economics and former dean of the Graduate School, was named the fifteenth recipient of the University Scholar/ Teacher Award. Created in 1981 by the United Methodist Church's board of higher education and ministry for the purpose of "recognizing an outstanding faculty member for his/ her dedication and contribution to the learning arts and to the institution," the award carries with it a $2,000 stipend.

     Goodwin has published numerous books and articles on economic thought and theory as well as on general issues of higher education; has held a number of administrative posts, including university secretary, assistant provost, university vice provost, and director of international studies; and is a consultant to some of the nation's leading charitable institutions.

     Other award recipients included Trinity College distinguished teachers Kathy Ruby, assistant professor of the practice of women's studies, and Jeff Storer, associate professor of Drama; Robert B. Cox Teaching Award winner Daniele Armaleo, assistant professor of the practice of botany; Richard Lublin Distinguished Award for Teaching recipients Paul Gronke, assistant professor of political science, and Jennifer Thorn, assistant professor of English; and this year's Howard Johnson Teaching Award recipient, Gary Gereffi, a sociology professor.

     Frances Honeycutt, a twenty-year Duke employee who devotes her free time to helping poor and disadvantaged people in the local community, received the Humanitarian Service Award.


undreds of students, scholars, and professionals gathered on campus in October for a symposium, "African- American Women: The Body Politic." Organized by Karla F.C. Holloway, a linguist, author, English professor, and director of the African and African-American Studies Program, the symposium addressed a range of race and gender issues affecting black women, During the two afternoon sessions and one evening panel discussion, participants engaged in lively discussions about images of black women in literature; the implications of rape for black women; spirituality, faith, and the role of the black church; representations of black women's bodies in mainstream journalism and photo- journalism; and socioeconomic and ideological divisions within the black community.

Literary offerings: a book fair between sessions for symposium participants
Photo: Chris Hildreth

     Guests included economist and syndicated columnist Julianne Malveaux, critical race theorist and UCLA and Columbia Law School law professor Kim Crenshaw, author and Duke research professor of English and African and African-American Studies Paula Giddings, Duke associate professor of literature and African-American Studies Wahneema Lubiano, Harvard arts and sciences and divinity professor and author Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, University of Pennsylvania English professor and author Charlotte Pierce Baker, University of North Carolina English professor and author Trudier Harris, Temple University professor and Presbyterian minister Katie Cannon, and University of Virginia English professor Deborah McDowell.

     The idea for the symposium came from the first chapter of Holloway's award-winning Codes of Conduct: Race, Ethics, and the Color of Our Character. That chapter, "The Body Politic," discussed "the way that black women's bodies often speak more powerfully than their character in public matters," says Holloway, citing such historical figures as Phyllis Wheatley and Zora Neale Hurston, and contemporary political figures such as Lani Guinier and former Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders. In response to her book, Holloway received calls from around the country, including one from White House chief of staff Maggie Williams, The discussion led to a friendship and, with assistance from Holloway's colleague, Ms. magazine editor-in-chief Marcia Ann Gillespie, to organizing the conference.

     Held in the Love Auditorium of the Levine Science Research Center, the standing-room- only symposium attracted so many people that there was a waiting list to get in. At the end of each session, audience members were invited to pose their own questions to panelists.


uke researchers have found that aging female rats treated with estrogen show more connections in a brain area associated with memory formation than did similar untreated rats. The scientists believe their finding offers evidence that minor memory losses sometimes associated with aging might be alleviated by replacing estrogens. The authors of the study, medical student Phillippa Henderson, associate professor of psychology-experimental Christina Williams, and assistant research professor of neurobiology Gillian Einstein, presented their findings at the November meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

     Although they are working with aging rats, their findings may have implications for the many post-menopausal women now on estrogen-replacement therapy. Estrogen's effect on cholesterol synthesis and bone growth has been well-documented, but the scientists say more research is needed to understand fully its effect on the brain.

     Einstein says the research also suggests a possible mechanism to explain recent findings that women on hormone-replacement therapy, and with a family history of Alzheimer's disease, are less likely than their untreated siblings to get the disease. Treating Alzheimer's patients with estrogens might help protect against neuronal death that leads to cognitive decline. "Estrogen replacement therapy might 'shore up' the synaptic connections of neurons affected by the disease," she says.

     In the study, the team used aging female rats that had had their ovaries removed and, thus, were making no estrogen. The researchers divided the rats into three treatment groups -- those receiving no estrogens, long-term chronic estrogen doses, or a single acute dose of estrogen, After the treatments, they performed microscopic studies that allowed them to determine how the treatments affected neurons called granule cells in the rats' hippocampus, a brain region involved in spatial memory. The scientists' study of single neurons revealed that the rats exposed to acute estrogen treatment had 40 percent more connective elements, called "dendritic spines," on these neurons than did aged female rats with no estrogen replacement or those exposed to long-term chronic estrogens. Dendritic spines may be the basis for the brain's ability to develop new memories.

     "These studies suggest that the hippocampus of the female rat responds best if it is exposed to estrogen in cyclical fashion, as is the case in young female adult rats," says Williams. "Giving aging females estrogen in a constant fashion was no better for their brain than giving no estrogen at all. We're not yet sure whether this is also true in males, and one of our next steps is to determine if neurons in aged males are responsive to estrogens as well. They may or may not be since, paradoxically, males have estrogens in their brains naturally throughout life, because testosterone is converted in the brain into a form of estrogen called estradiol,"


onstruction of a major new West Campus recreation and fitness center is closer to reality with two major gifts, and with trustee approval of preliminary plans at the board's December meeting.

     Trustee Gary L. Wilson'62, co-chairman of Northwest Airlines Inc., and his wife, Barbera Thomhill, have pledged $5 million toward the new facility. The gift is the largest individual donation for athletics and recreational pur- poses in the history of the university, Wilson attended Duke on an athletic scholarship as a two-sport athlete, including playing on Duke's 1961 Cotton Bowl champion football team. He is a member of the board of directors of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Foundation.

     Before becoming co-chairman of Northwest Airlines in 1990, Wilson was the executive vice president and chief financial officer of The Walt Disney Company, where he continues as director. Earlier, he was executive vice president and chief financial officer of the Marriott Corporation. His son, Derek, graduated from Duke in 1986, and received his M.B.A, from the Fuqua School of Business in 1990. Thornhill has additional Duke connections: Her parents are Edwin Hale Thornhill '34, M.D. '38 and the late Patricia Sills Thornhill '36, M.D. '40.

     At the trustee meeting, Randall L. Tobias, trustee and vice chairman of the board, announced his $1-million gift toward the recrea- tion center. Tobias is chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Eli Lilly and Company.

     His daughter Paige Tobias-Button is a 1990 Trinity graduate and a 1994 law graduate. The recreation center is the second phase of the university's plan to expand and revitalize student recreation and exercise facilities. The new $5-million Keith and Brenda Brodie Recreation Center on East Campus opened in September, increasing the total area in fitness facilities on East to more than 50,000 square feet.

     The West Campus recreation center will provide more than 90,000 square feet of new recreation space, in addition to renovating Card Gym and the Aquatic Center, both of which will be linked to the new facility. The $18-million project also funds improvements to the Intramural Building. The center will feature three new indoor basketball courts, a large weight-training and fitness area, an indoor jogging track, a climbing wall, two rac- quetball courts, a lounge/juice bar, and three multipurpose rooms, including one dedicated to dance and aerobics, Ground breaking is expected to be this spring with a projected opening date of 1999.

     Trustees also approved plans for a Cameron Indoor Stadium annex, The Cameron annex will provide 44,000 square feet of space for a new academic study center for student athletes, offices for basketball coaches, and a new Hall of Fame room to represent all twenty-five of the university's intercollegiate sports. Preliminary cost estimates are $6.5 million.


ohn Sauer, an engineering school senior, was mired in the seemingly unavoidable process in early December of sending out resumes and considering job opportunities. But then the Missouri native learned that he had been chosen as a Rhodes Scholar to study for two years in Oxford University in England. He is the twenty-sixth recipient in Duke's history.

     At Oxford, Sauer plans to pursue a bachelor's degree in theology, He says he also intends to use the time to explore his interests more deeply so he can be sure of himself before he is again confronted with career decisions. An Angier Biddle Duke Scholar, Sauer has excelled in both of his majors, electrical engineering and philosophy.

     In addition to his studies, he has tutored Hispanic schoolchildren through a program organized by the Campus Catholic Student Center. He also spent one summer working with inner-city children and another with prisoners in his hometown. He is also a wrestler and was the runner-up in a hymn-writing contest sponsored by the Duke Chapel.

     Sauer was one of thirty-two Americans awarded Rhodes scholarships from twenty- four colleges and universities. The scholarships are awarded each year to students in eighteen countries. Established under the will of Cecil Rhodes, a British philanthropist and colonialist who died in 1902, the scholarships are awarded to candidates who display qualities of character, leadership, and personal vigor.


  • Romance Studies professor Walter D, Mignolo was awarded the Modern Language Association of America's Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize for his book The Darker Side of the Renaissance: Literacy, Territoriality, and Colonization, published by the University of Michigan Press, The prize is awarded annually for an outstanding book published in English in the field of Latin American and Spanish literatures and cultures.

  • Brenda M. Nevidjon B.S.N. '72, who was in charge of all patient care services at Duke Hospital, was appointed its chief operating officer. She is responsible for running the day-to-day operations of the 1,124-bed hospital. She earned her master's in nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1978 and completed the Johnson R Johnson-Wharton Fellows program in management for nurse executives at the University of Pennsylvania in 1996. Nevidjon succeeds Michael Israel, who was named the hospital's chief executive officer in June.

  • John Howard was named director of the Center for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Life and an adjunct instructor of history. He was director of faculty recruitment and development for The National Faculty in Atlanta, Georgia. He earned his bachelor's at the University of Virginia in 1983, an M.B.A. at the University of Mississippi in 1984, and his master's in American studies at the University of Alabama in 1992. He is completing his dissertation this year for a Ph.D. from Emory University.

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