Duke University Alumni Magazine

Go To The Head Of The Class
How Duke Got Hot
by Robert J. Bliwise

With a mixture of planning and serendipity, Duke has managed to achieve a level of prominence that is nearly without precedent--and that finds expression not just in magazine rankings, but in changing profiles of the student body and the faculty
ugust brought a milestone for the multiply-titled Terry Sanford, former North Carolina governor, former U.S. senator, former Duke president. It was his eightieth birthday. A campus celebration drew various dignitaries, including another president emeritus, H. Keith H. Brodie. Brodie reminded the crowd about a coincidence of events: The Sanford celebration came on the same day that U.S. News & World Report released its latest rankings. This year, the magazine showed Duke as the number-three university in the country, tied with Yale and behind only Princeton and Harvard.

     Magazine rankings are hardly precise measures of educational realities. Duke isn't clearly better now than it was last year, when it ranked a place lower. But substance and strategy--along with serendipity--have propelled Duke into becoming remarkably "hot" remarkably fast.

     To a great extent, institutional reputations hinge on perceptions of personal leadership. And Duke's current president, Nannerl O. Keohane, has assumed a high profile. When in the spring of 1995 the American Society of Newspaper Editors wanted to hear about "American Higher Education in the Twenty-first Century," Keohane was the speaker of choice. In a well-received address, she covered such themes as information technologies, student aid, federally sponsored research, and the erosion of public confidence in institutions. The gathering featured just three other speakers: the presidents of Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

     A couple of months later, The New York Times published a lengthy look at how universities were trying to ward off proposed cuts in federal support. The article began with an account of Keohane's meeting with Representative Richard Gephardt, the parent of a recent Duke graduate. It included a single photograph, which showed Keohane talking with Senator Mark Hatfield, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

     But those who follow such trends date Duke's surging reputation to Sanford's presidency, which extended from 1970 until 1985. It was a 1984 issue of The New York Times Magazine, after all, that ran a story on "hot colleges" and showed a Duke quadrangle scene on the cover.

     Eleven years earlier, in 1973, Duke had taken out a sixteen-page advertising supplement in The Times to showcase "the beliefs, undertakings, and achievements" of faculty members, students, and alumni. Colorful commentary was accompanied by colorful images of Duke's idyllic campus setting. Referring to "a new period" in Duke's history, the supplement said the university would draw on "the best of its past experience" and respond creatively to "the requirements of its second half- century." Joel Fleishman, who was recruited by Sanford in 1971 to build a new public-policy center, says Sanford's senior advisers thought it was "unseemly" for the university to promote itself so blatantly. But Sanford pushed the idea forward. One signal of Duke's current standing, he adds, is how superfluous such self-advertisement would be today.

Photo: Chris Hildreth

     As Fleishman puts it, "There was really the sense that Terry was intent on leading Duke to new heights. Terry had a vision for Duke that was larger than the existing vision, and he was willing to experiment and get behind good ideas. And that is in fact what happened."

     What happened, in particular, was a policy that Fleishman describes as bringing those inside Duke outside and those outside Duke inside. One conspicuous effort brought groups of journalists to campus for several weeks to explore themes of their choosing. The program began in 1977 with support from The Washington Post; over the years it has attracted an international array of representatives from the print and electronic media. As a consequence of pursuing intellectual interests, of course, the journalists would come into contact with Duke's intellectual leaders.

     "There was a deliberate policy by a number of us to identify people in government, politics, the media, the practicing professions, and business and to expose them to Duke--loads of them, constantly," Fleishman says. "At the same time, there was a conscious strategy to get Duke faculty and students off campus--to have faculty get to know leaders in the world of affairs, and to set up systematic internship programs for students with practitioner mentors. Public policy was not the only place that encouraged this; it had been happening at the medical center for some time, and it was happening increasingly at the business school and the law school. But it's the kind of thing that happens at Harvard and Yale all the time. A complete, steady, constant interchange between the university and the outside world had not happened frequently at Duke, certainly not with any degree of regularity."

     Fleishman says the goal for him was not to make Duke more widely known, but to build the nation's best public-policy analysis department. It was a theme brought out by Sanford in his inaugural address, when he singled out Duke's responsibility to train leaders for society. "If we succeeded to some extent in doing that, that brought the ancillary benefit of public attention to the university," says Fleishman. "By virtue of creating an interchange between the university and the outside world, people found out about Duke. But we brought people here because we needed them to enrich our education."

     Sanford's own visibility contributed to the university's visibility. In 1972 and again in 1976, he announced plans to run for the Democratic nomination for president; near the end of his Duke presidency, he sought the Democratic Party chairmanship. "Anybody who had been governor started with a certain amount of stature," Fleishman says. "He was widely viewed as the key education governor of the United States; he had been voted by one organization as one of the ten greatest governors in U.S. history. The combination of his independent stature and the hidden quality of Duke was just a perfect match."

Photo: Chris Hildreth

     "I said in my inaugural speech that we didn't want to copy any other university," Sanford says, "that our best success wouldn't be merely a carbon copy--that we wanted to be Duke University. We saw good things at some of the other universities, and we obviously were willing to steal a good idea anytime we saw it. But I always saw Duke as Duke. And in fact, I didn't like at all the slogan that Duke was the Harvard of the South. I thought we had a far better undergraduate student body than Harvard had. I thought we ran our total university better than Harvard, because we ran as a single place rather than little duchies."

     It's a good thing that Duke has been true to itself and hasn't succumbed to Ivy imitation, says Robert Rosenzweig, past president of the Association of American Universities (AAU). "Duke was for many years the most distinguished university in the South. And, like Stanford, it has broken out of its regional base. But turning around a university is like turning around a supertanker. Most of its faculty have tenure, it has a donor base that has certain expectations about the place, it has financial limitations apart from that, and so it's hard to make fundamental changes. I'm not sure you want institutions to do that very often; you want them to be better at what they're doing, to judiciously add in areas in which they have genuine strength. What it comes down to is not so much reinvention as sensible planning."

     "Duke ought to be proud of what it has accomplished," says Rosenzweig, who for many years was the vice president for public affairs at Stanford. "But U.S. News & World Report is not the measure of that. Any student who chooses to go to Duke because it's third this year rather than fifth--well, if you could tease that information out of the application, I say you should reject that student."

     Duke's director of undergraduate admissions, Christoph Guttentag, isn't a rankings enthusiast himself--but he is quick to buy into the sensible-planning theme. "In our publications and elsewhere, we have focused our message more clearly on the personality of the school, trying to make the abstract concrete." A big part of the message, he says, is that Duke's relative youth gives the campus a "dynamism" and "vibrancy" less evident among its peer schools.

     "We are certainly reaching out to more areas of the country, and we are taking demographic data into account: The three largest demographic-growth states are California, Texas, and Florida, and we're putting significant resources into those areas. And we are doing different activities--recruiting jointly with other colleges to an extent that we haven't in the past, using computer technology like the World Wide Web, tracking what activities are most efficient and most effective. I think recruitment in general has become more thoughtful and more focused and more planned and less seat-of-the-pants."

     Guttentag also points to a basic admissions formula: Satisfied undergraduates attract potential undergraduates. From 1985 until 1993, the alumni office ran an exiting-Duke survey. Recent graduates ranked the "overall Duke experience" at 8 or better on a ten-point scale; 91 to 96 percent said they would choose Duke again.

     Student satisfaction may be one legacy of the Sanford years. Sanford's calming and caring manner won over formerly disaffected students to his leadership--and to their university. "I think that one of the things that we did right was to involve the students in their own lives at the university," Sanford recalls. But his contribution to campus dynamics extended far beyond promoting a more powerful student government. At a time of uproar over Vietnam and civil rights, students responded warmly to his gestures--ranging from his pushing forward plans for a university center to his arranging bus transport to a march on Washington. "I'd say that we mildly encouraged dissent; we certainly didn't restrain it. In fact, I said to the parents that I would have been ashamed of Duke students if they hadn't protested the Vietnam War."

     "Terry Sanford's natural gregariousness and his political skills really did result in a presidency that was student-focused," says Fleishman. "There was just an enormous affection for him that continued all during his administration. And that good will was translated to the peers of those students and to the people they would run into all over the country."

Photo: Chris Hildreth

     What's more relevant than a rise in rankings is "a different level of recruitment" for Duke, according to Guttentag. Duke is generating more applications from prospective students--13,367 this year compared with 5,340 for the class that entered with Terry Sanford in the fall of 1969. It is drawing students from a wider area: Seventeen percent of this year's freshman class comes from the West and Southwest, compared with barely 5 percent in 1969. (The top five states represented in the current class also point to Duke's drawing power across a wide swath of the country. They are North Carolina, New York, California, Florida, and Pennsylvania.)

     And Duke is enrolling students with better credentials: More than 1,300 of those who applied to the university this year were ranked first in their high school class. Among the matriculants who came with high-school class rankings, 74 percent in Arts and Sciences and 77 percent in Engineering graduated in the top 5 percent. In 1969, Duke didn't even break out the top 5 percent in reporting rankings for freshmen: About two-thirds graduated in the top tenth of their high school class. Although it drew about 200 fewer applicants this year than the previous year, Duke had 200 more applicants whose combined SAT scores exceeded 1400--meaning that even when the pool isn't growing larger, it's growing stronger.

     While it once saw schools like Emory and Vanderbilt as its competition, Duke is competing against the Ivies, Stanford, and other top-tier universities for accepted students. "More students who are considering Duke are also considering the other top half-dozen schools in the country," Guttentag says. "In the past, our competition was predominantly, though not exclusively, regional Southern schools. Now that competition includes the most visible, the most selective, the most prestigious schools in the country."

     Among Duke's admitted students, the application overlapping is greatest with Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Stanford. Five years ago, 636 Harvard applicants were admitted to Duke; this year the number was 943. (Guttentag points out that those numbers understate the overlapping, since they hinge on surveys completed by accepted students--including those who decide to matriculate elsewhere and never respond to Duke.) Duke still loses most of its admitted students who are also admitted to one or more of those schools; the same is true in the competition with Brown, another school with which Duke shares a large number of overlaps. But Duke pretty much splits the difference or wins out for students against other Ivies--Dartmouth, the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, and Columbia.

     Says Guttentag: "We're drawing more of their applicants into the applicant pool. Students who used to not consider us are now considering us. That's a reflection of the increased recognition of the quality of a Duke education. But it's easier to bring someone into the pool than to matriculate them. It's a different level of commitment. And the competition with top schools in the country is fierce. We still have our work cut out for us."

     If Duke finds itself in such company, the Stanford model--and in particular, the Stanford relationship with Silicon Valley--may suggest one reason. When he came to Duke as provost in 1983, Phillip Griffiths told the trustees that "Duke is a very good university with the opportunity to become a great one." (In 1991, Griffiths left Duke to take over as director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.) He said his specific goal was "to strengthen Duke's position as the leading private teaching and research university in the Southeast and improve its national position among such universities. In a word, Duke must play a role in the South as Stanford has in the West."

     "If you look back at what happened to Stanford during the late 1950s and 1960s, that was a period where what is now Silicon Valley was just beginning to open up," he says. "Stanford was a very creative institution in taking advantage of that particular geographical location. And one has the sense that the external environment here in North Carolina was somewhat similar, with the development of the Research Triangle as a partnership between the state government, the business community, and the universities. That sort of vision was something Duke could help develop and strengthen and take advantage of. The growth in high-tech industries here, especially biomedical and pharmaceutical, but also microelectronics and other areas--all of this created an external climate that was very favorable for Duke."

     Institutions like the Microelectronics Center of North Carolina, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, the National Institute of Statistical Sciences, and the National Humanities Center have served up opportunities for collaborative work, consultancies, and even joint appointments. With their computerized links, the libraries of Duke, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University effectively form one of the largest universities libraries in the countries.

     But beyond such links, Griffiths says the sheer economic vitality of the Southeast has worked as an inducement for potential faculty members. "One way of looking at it is that the ability to attract faculty to this region was much greater than it had been in earlier years. It was harder in the Sixties to move somebody out of the Northeast or from the San Francisco Bay Area to North Carolina. But later, it was seen as a place that had employment opportunities for spouses, that had an active intellectual community."

     Griffiths' term as provost coincided with a large number of high-profile faculty appointments. With an energetic recruitment effort, Griffiths focused on the area that Terry Sanford had targeted early in his presidency. (Sanford once declared, "I've tried to acknowledge in the allocation of all resources that the most important thing Duke can do is to build a faculty ever increasing in excellence.") He also was acknowledging an assumption of Robert Rosenzweig of the AAU. "Reputation consists of the distinction of the faculty," Rosenzweig says. "If you don't have that, you don't have anything, and if you have that, you can do a lot with it. Making visible and important faculty hires does two things. Immediately, it gets you visibility within the discipline and the larger academic community. And having first-rate people attracts other first-rate people."

     The media focused the greatest attention on faculty hires in English and literature. In a 1988 cover story--"The Battle of the Books"--The New York Times Magazine put such Duke faculty members as Frank Lentricchia, Jane Tompkins, Barbara Herrnstein Smith, and Stanley Fish front-and-center in the "lit.crit" trends of the time. "Canon revision is in full swing down at Duke, where students lounge on the manicured quad of the imitation-Cotswold campus and the magnolias blossom in the spring," reported the magazine. "In the Duke catalogue, the English department lists, besides the usual offerings in Chaucer and Shakespeare, courses in American popular culture; advertising and society; television, technology, and culture."

     A 1991 article in The Washington Post Education Review declared in a headline: "A Controversial English Department Deserves High Marks for Teaching." The article was by Nina King, editor of Washington Post Book World, who had spent a month at Duke as a visiting journalist. King observed that "the proof of the pudding is in the pedagogy," and by that criterion "Duke should be blessing its stars and superstars." But she noted that an Atlantic Monthly cover story had castigated prominent members of the English department for "radical skepticism," and that a New Republic story had portrayed then-department chair Fish as "a kind of would-be Nietzschean Superman."

     As Brodie, the president at the time, recalls the literary-canon debates, "In the end, people didn't really remember what the argument was about. Indeed, it was at times somewhat difficult for us to determine what the argument was about. But the public recognized the visibility of Duke faculty members. And that, in the end, proved to be a positive."

     Griffiths says the faculty hiring was broad-based. In fact, he says, more resources were put into the sciences than the humanities. "The idea was that if you made available to the faculty the opportunity to do something special, to bring in some very well-known colleagues or to put in place an interdisciplinary center, then people would come forward with good proposals. Mathematics underwent enormous change and is now a first-rate department, and that's the case as well in social-science disciplines like economics and political science. English and other humanities departments were struggling to make a critical mass in their graduate programs. The English department had an enormous number of retirements, and so it was a good time to make a bunch of appointments at once."

     Part of his effort, says Griffiths, was to move Duke away from a model--the Dartmouth model, he calls it--that had centered on the undergraduate and professional schools to the neglect of the graduate school. As he told the trustees shortly after he became provost, "A principal barrier to recruiting faculty of the desired level of excellence is the size and quality of Duke's graduate student body. It is simply a fact that the best faculty want and require the stimulation of good graduate students." He proceeded to document a frustrating attempt to recruit a distinguished professor from an Ivy League school--and to describe a recent ranking of graduate programs as showing Duke performing only "moderately well."

     "My feeling was that the Dartmouth model had many strong points," he says. "But to be a really major university, you needed to be strong across-the-board, including your graduate programs in arts and sciences and engineering. And the faculty who are going to be intellectual leaders in their areas are going to be attracted to places where there are strong graduate programs."

     In 1992, the National Research Council conducted its once-a-decade survey of graduate faculty across the scholarly spectrum. The survey showed that Duke has eight Ph.D. programs ranked in the top ten (actually, all with rankings of five or better), and eighteen in the top twenty. In the survey from 1982, Duke had placed just three departments in the top ten, and just eight in the top twenty.

     If Stanford and the Silicon Valley provided a model for Duke, there's another school that has paralleled Duke's path to "hotness." Brown University for years had a less than lustrous position (and the smallest endowment) in the Ivy League. But by 1980, Brown led the Ivy League in application numbers--"the first time anyone but Harvard had done that," notes its longtime vice president for public affairs, Robert Reichley. Brown traces the emergence of the second of what he calls "the two Browns" to the late Sixties. The university underwent a curricular revolution that, as Reichley observes, based much of its philosophy on the Brown curriculum a century earlier; at the same time, it remained immune from the violent student strife that afflicted its peer schools. When Stanford's then-president spoke in Providence, he was asked to explain Brown's sudden rise. The response, as Reichley recalls it, was, "This place is a magnet for independent students who want a role in planning their educations."

     According to Reichley, "Our greatest problem was not explaining student protests--everyone had that--but getting rid of a tag in the media: 'financially troubled Brown.' We improved our management and got our external affairs, including fund raising, straightened out. And we introduced many new initiatives, for the right academic reasons." Those initiatives--enhancing the educational fabric of Brown in areas like public education, public service, and international education--"carried the concurrent value of being very public," he says.

     As Duke found with its reinvented English department, a rise in reputation has meant more media attention to Brown. But Reichley notes that even some of Brown's most unpleasant time in the spotlight--as when two of its students were charged with prostitution--illuminated the university's educational distinctiveness. "Good public relations is first and foremost good policy. Too many schools talk about getting good public relations when they mean good publicity. But you can't simply go out and declare you're good. Policy has to come before public relations. If the policy isn't there, the public-relations side is dead."

Photo: Chris Hildreth

     Brown's example suggests an essential ingredient behind a rise in reputation: money. For its part, Duke had decided to expand the faculty, improve faculty salaries, and increase student financial aid in the Eighties. During Brodie's presidency, the university embarked on a two-tiered tuition plan. The formula fixed tuition increases at roughly the Consumer Price Index plus two percentage points for returning students; it charged students entering in 1988 and thereafter $1,000 more than returning students. "It was very important if for no other reason than our faculty, when I came into the job, were grossly underpaid," says Brodie.

     Among comparable universities, Duke had seen its faculty salaries slip to fourteenth, according to American Association of University Professors rankings; in time that ranking improved to eighth. (The AAUP's comparisons don't factor in cost-of-living differences.) While Duke was making high-profile senior faculty appointments and adding endowed chairs, the student-faculty ratio in arts and sciences improved to 11-to-1 from 13-to-1. Funds for financial aid increased to $30 million from $13 million annually, and the percentage of the undergraduate student body on need-based aid increased to more than 40 percent in 1993 from 20 percent in 1985.

     Terry Sanford says the interrelationship between reputation and resources is unmistakable. "I used to laughingly say that our problem was that we never had an alumnus die of old age. Consequently, we really didn't have a body of financial supporters like the older universities had," he says. "It's nice to have a good reputation. It's especially nice to have a good reputation if it promotes faculty expansion and student development. To me, that is what Duke's national standing would do."

     But financing such ambitions was hardly easy. Joel Fleishman headed Duke's first-ever comprehensive campaign for arts, sciences, and engineering endowment. Six years into the campaign, in 1988, Fleishman told Duke's trustees that the effort "has been the hardest job I've ever had.... And I'm not so much referring to the long hours, or to the endless travel and arm-twisting required. The hardest part of all has been persuading the Duke community--and I mean faculty and trustees as well as students and alumni--that the campaign could in fact be a success."

     That effort was essential to Duke's continued viability, Fleishman says. Over a period of twenty years, endowment income had gone from defraying 60 percent to about 10 percent of the university's budget. When Sanford assumed the presidency, Duke was bringing in $700,000 in annual giving from alumni. Some prep schools at the time, Fleishman says, had $8- to $10-million annual giving totals. "Duke didn't deliberately maintain relationships with alumni. That was my biggest problem. Alumni were turned off by the university because the university hadn't paid any attention to them--it simply sent them out into the world and said goodbye."

     Sanford, says Fleishman, worked to project a different attitude. The endowment campaign eventually raised $221 million; it created an additional forty-three professorships, fifty-seven graduate fellowship endowment funds, and 180 new undergraduate scholarship funds.

     If it takes money to produce educational excellence, and the resulting visibility, what contribution does success in sports make? Reflecting on his Stanford seasoning, Robert Rosenzweig isn't very keen on the significance of athletic reputation to greater reputation. "Athletic success attracts supporters of athletics; it's not obvious to me that it does a whole lot more than that." He adds that neither football nor basketball at Stanford is "a threat to win a national championship."

     Duke has long harbored championship aims, at least in basketball. Brodie says that before his assuming the chancellorship of Duke, he had never been to a football or basketball game, and that he had never even read the sports pages during his school and college years. Still, "Coach K became the most valuable Duke ambassador on the university's roster of stars," he writes in Keeping an Open Door, a recent book of his collected speeches. Brodie specifically credits basketball success--certainly including Duke's two national championships, in 1991 and 1992--with increased media attention, along with increases in student applications, attendance at alumni events, and alumni giving. He also mentions the basketball-inspired financial windfall from TV rights and T-shirt sales.

     Tom Butters, the university's director of athletics since 1977, is uncomfortable drawing such tight correlations. Says Butters, who will retire at the end of this academic year, "Anytime a portion of your university is stretched across the newspapers from coast to coast in a favorable light, whether you're winning football games or basketball games, that can be--and I emphasize can be--very good. But it can only be that if you're doing all of the other things, it seems to me, that universities are charged to do. We are an educational institution. Athletics is a part of that, a fraction of that program."

     To Mike Krzyzewski, the men's basketball coach, it's important to keep the public perception of Duke basketball--and his own public perception--in perspective. "I'm more visible than anybody here just because I am on television so much. But you don't want to confuse visibility with importance. Even people who are running programs here at Duke, they don't get the visibility, and they're much more important than we are--all the research people who are working to improve lives and to save lives. But if we use our visibility properly, we can enhance the interests of the really important people.

     "When we went to those seven Final Fours in nine years, it mirrored the explosion of college basketball in the media market. We got more recognition than some teams in the past. And because we were a presence there almost every year, we were almost branded a success in college basketball."

     The media pay attention to Duke players because they've tended to win games, but also, Krzyzewski insists, because they don't "cut corners" academically. "If you get to a certain point where you're getting all this notoriety, even if you lose in the Final Four or in the championship game, how you handle that loss sometimes means more than winning. I think Duke is about keeping things in perspective and keeping things balanced. When people think of Duke, they think of success, and they also think of character.

Photo: Chris Hildreth

     "For a basketball player here, what I'm looking for is first of all somebody who understands the value of an education. Certainly, they have to have a high degree of basketball talent. But I don't want anyone who's skewed toward just basketball, because they probably wouldn't make it here. As good as our basketball program might be, our school is better. It's exciting to see Laettner hit great shots, it's exciting to watch Grant Hill play with grace, it's exciting to watch Bobby Hurley play with daring. But why did they choose Duke? In interviews, it's those kids saying that they love being at Duke, that they love being a student at Duke, not just an athlete at Duke. I think that it's not just the games but some of the interviews with these youngsters--print, television, radio--that have gone a long way to create a positive image for Duke."

     Among the signs of the reach of Duke basketball, Krzyzewski says, are the thousands of requests for autographs and the personal letters that come his way. "Thousands is not an exaggeration; that's what we deal with. If we are number one in a particular year or if we win a national championship or make the Final Four, then you multiply that number several times. To have that kind of response, you know you're touching something out there in a lot of people."

     Krzyzewski says his program has worked hard to use such a public platform to communicate a bigger story about Duke. "The fact is that we're on television twenty-five to thirty times a year. That exposure for a two-hour period for every game--I don't know how you measure that. We probably have more air time than first-run episodes of ER. People pay a lot of money to get a thirty-second spot, a sixty-second spot, on one of those television series. For the Final Four, the money that is spent for advertising is immense. Well, here we have free advertising for Duke. And if we are in an event like the Final Four, where 50 million people might be watching worldwide, other aspects of the university can be shown through that medium.

     "I see that as one of our missions with the basketball program--to market the university, to get the name out there a little bit more. Then once people look at it, they'll recognize what Duke does academically."

     It seems the public has come to learn what Duke does--and demands--academically. According to Duke admissions officials, the quality of Duke's applicant pool has remained high even as the pool itself has expanded. So the university is not seeing expressions of interest from marginal candidates whose chief quality is basketball worship. And it's not at all clear to what extent basketball-inspired visibility has contributed to Duke application activity. There is one notable peaking in that activity: For the freshman class that entered in 1985, 12,679 applied. The following spring, Duke played in its first Final Four under Krzyzewski. And that fall, application numbers soared--to 15,120. But even with a couple of national championships, year-to-year totals have changed just incrementally since then.

     Basketball hasn't just served as a vehicle for national visibility; it has also helped define student life at Duke--and so presumably has boosted those student satisfaction rankings. This fall's "midnight madness"--the first official team practice--filled Cameron Indoor Stadium with frenzied student fans, along with the ESPN broadcast team.

     "I think basketball has become an integral part of what this university is doing," Krzyzewski says. "By no means is it the most important, or even one of the top five things. But it is much easier for everybody to identify with it. When you have a great, multifaceted university, there's not necessarily one rallying point, one cry that can bring everybody together. I think basketball has helped serve that purpose. Cameron is probably the biggest collection of Duke people in a really intense, unified atmosphere."

     Whether or not Duke continues its winning ways in basketball--and whether or not it holds to its number-three U.S. News & World Report ranking--it's not likely to slip in national visibility. But visibility doesn't come without quality; and quality costs. In his 1992 capital campaign wrap-up report, Fleishman told the trustees that Duke must look to doubling its endowment base every eight or ten years, and that it needs to augment the endowment four- or five-fold to be competitive with the very top universities. At the same time, universities nationally are feeling public and parental pressure to rein in tuition charges. So even as Duke looks to advance in reputation rankings, it may not want to advance in tuition rankings.

     In the view of President Emeritus Brodie, the job remains--as one trustee said to him when he became president--to bring the Duke reality in line with the elevated public perception. "We still may have an over-inflated perception of Duke that we need to address, not by bringing that perception down but by stepping up to the level of that perception. And that gets translated into what we do for our undergraduates."

     Many of the schools that Duke regards as its peers emphasize small-group instruction, tutorials, or thesis projects in the junior and senior years, he says. They also draw their educational and residential sides closer together. "I used to chastise our students for wanting to come here and then trying to do as little as possible and sort of get out the door with a diploma in hand," says Brodie. "Now we're seeing more students who are aggressively interested in getting an education and demanding the attention of the faculty." Duke doesn't have the faculty numbers to support one-on-one mentoring, he says. But motivated students are going to press their educational expectations on the university.

     In a larger sense, what Duke needs to be doing is constantly scrutinizing its institutional culture, constantly reinventing parts of itself, says Phillip Griffiths, the former provost. "It's always harder to maintain your position when you're higher up. It requires leadership and it requires resources. I think those two factors are obvious. What's less obvious is that it requires some process for change."

     "If you're winning, the temptation is to keep doing things just the same way you've always been doing them," he says. "So there needs to be built into the institution, into the financial planning of the institution, some process that facilitates change." Why should Duke not have the flexibility to try out an interdisciplinary program for five years, he asks, and see if it takes or not? "One thing that I was never able to do here is to have the financial ability to experiment in a new area or in a new program without making a commitment to it.

     "The intellectual market doesn't force change in academic institutions in the same way that the ordinary market does in companies. But you won't stay on top unless you're constantly changing."                            

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