Face Value: Clarence Birkhead



Clarence Birkhead

Chief of Police At Duke since 1988 

Describe yourself in three words:

Ambitious, spiritual, fair

Describe Duke in three words:

Leader, political, exciting

Why Duke?

Professional development where excellence is the expected performance standard; a community that is rich with diverse cultures and that offers multiple opportunities for learning

What one thing would you change about Duke?

A more diverse leadership

Who is your favorite person?

Martin Luther King Jr.

What do you value?

Time with my family, my relationship with God, and my good health

In his words:

I believe that anything is possible and we are limited only by our imagination. I'm spiritual and I put my faith first in all that I do. I have a strong work ethic, learning at an early age from my hard-working mother that "hard work won't hurt you." I am a law-enforcement official, and I am an advocate for justice. And if ever I was to forget why I do what I do, I remember what Dr. Martin Luther King once said: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." As the first police officer in my immediate family, I chose law enforcement-- actually I think it chose me--as a way of giving back. I wanted to do something that others could benefit from, and be a model for the youth in the community. So with some pressure from friends already on the force, I decided to try it. After all, it seemed like respectable employment. What is most satisfying is knowing that what I do can make, and has made, a difference--whether it's getting an offender off the streets or reading to a class of fourth-graders and seeing the joy in their eyes. I really love my job.

Clarence Birkhead

photo by Chris Hildreth

A joint project of University Photography and Duke Magazine, Face Value is an evolving gallery of portraits displayed in Perkins Library and represented in the magazine.
By capturing these individuals in images and words, the project celebrates some of the staff, faculty, and students whose contributions define a diverse community. Portrait by Chris Hildreth

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