ARTICLES BY Richard H. Brodhead

  • October 21, 2016
    Class of 2020, this ceremony marks a great transition. Your childhood is over and a new life begins. By the powers vested in me, I now proclaim you a student of Duke University. Or let me reach for a stronger word: I now proclaim you a citizen of Duke. Let’s think what difference that word makes.
  • June 2, 2016
    This winter I had lunch with a Duke couple in the Bay Area. The husband had recently retired at an early age and was still marveling at the unfamiliar experience of freedom. He quoted to me a line he had learned in meditation: “There is nowhere you have to go, nothing you have to do, no one you have to be.”
  • March 14, 2016
    Each August, we take an astonishing photo of Duke’s new freshmen, gathered in block numbers spelling out their class year on the East Campus quad. It’s an unforgettable image of the first time this group of 1,700 individuals experience themselves as a class.
  • December 14, 2015
    This fall, Duke celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Physician Assistant program. Most people who see a physician assistant for a cough or a sprained ankle are not aware that the idea of a physician assistant was born at Duke. In 1959, the U.S. Surgeon General had declared a dire need in the healthcare system: a national shortage of medical personnel.
  • October 12, 2015
    Usually, the Freshman Convocation is held in Duke Chapel. This year, we’ve decamped to Cameron Indoor Stadium because the chapel is closed for repairs. Indeed, just about everything at Duke is closed for repairs. If you came to campus last spring or summer, you saw that Duke Chapel, the Rubenstein wing of Perkins Library, Page Auditorium, West Union, the football stadium—even the quads were closed for repairs.
  • April 29, 2015
    Most universities are located where they were founded: Harvard is in Cambridge, Stanford is in Palo Alto, UNC is in Chapel Hill. But one of Duke’s peculiarities is that it chose to be in Durham. Trinity College was founded in rural Randolph County—and in 1892, the college packed up its bell and its library, loaded them onto a boxcar, and moved to Durham.
  • February 24, 2015
    I’m writing this column the day after a remarkable event. Each winter, the National Football Foundation holds a banquet to honor outstanding achievement associated with that sport—and this year, Duke claimed three honorees. Vice president and director of athletics Kevin White received the John L. Toner Award for excellence in athletics administration. An alumnus of the School of Medicine, Tom Catena M.D.
  • December 8, 2014
    Some alumni stay connected to Duke from the moment they graduate. But others find a way to reconnect later in their lives. What happens when Duke moves back into your life and you become actively engaged? And how does Duke benefit?
  • July 18, 2014
    Each April, as the azaleas come into bloom, thousands of Duke alumni return to campus for Reunions Weekend, and I greet them with the words, “Welcome home.” But why do we think of college as a home? In many countries this is not the case: There, people feel a lifelong allegiance to their secondary schools and strike a more pragmatic, businesslike relationship with their universities.
  • Class of 2017
    September 17, 2013
    Today you make a fresh start on an altogether new life. In it, you’ll have one and only one mission: to become the person you have it in you to be, a person equipped to lead a fulfilling life and to give the world the benefit of your gifts.
  • January 31, 2012


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