Presidential Precedent

Selections from University Archives


The graduating class of 1915 passes the old Trinity College Library en route to Craven Hall

On October 22, 1949, Duke held its first presidential inauguration ceremonies--even though the president inducted, A. Hollis Edens (above), was the university's third president and the institution's ninth leader.

William Preston Few, Duke's first president, was inaugurated in 1910 during the Trinity College era before the school became Duke University in 1924. After Few died in 1940, Robert Lee Flowers was inducted during the 1941 commencement exercises, rather than in a separate inaugural event.

The ceremony held to install President Edens became the model for future inaugurations of Duke presidents. The academic procession filed past the statue of James B. Duke to reach the dais set up on the plaza in front of Duke Chapel, which provided a dramatic backdrop as President Edens delivered his inaugural address. Delegates from academic institutions around the world joined the local community in celebrating its new leader.

The same protocol will be followed when Duke's ninth president, Richard H. Brodhead, is inaugurated on September 18.

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