Duke president to step down in 2017

Posted April 28, 2016

Duke University President Richard Brodhead

— Duke University President Richard Brodhead will step down on June 30, 2017, after 13 years as the school's top administrator, Duke announced Thursday.

"With many critical initiatives nearing completion, it seems the right time for Duke to recruit a new leader to guide the next chapter of its progress," Brodhead said in a message to Duke faculty, staff, students and alumni. "Meanwhile, there will be plenty to do in the year ahead. Nothing in a university is the work of a single person, and in the year to come, I’ll look forward to chances to thank and celebrate with each of you who have helped build the Duke of today."

Under Brodhead’s leadership, Duke has opened academic programs in Singapore and China, the campus has undergone $1 billion in construction and renovation and he launched DukeEngage, a summer service program for undergraduates, as well as other opportunities for internships, faculty-mentored research and academic collaborations.

"Dick Brodhead is one of Duke’s transformative presidents," David Rubenstein, chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees, said in a statement. "The entire Duke community is therefore very much in his debt for the leadership he has provided over the past 12 years – and no doubt will continue to provide. That Duke will have another year of Dick’s commitment, vision and energy is our good fortune."

Applications for undergraduate admission nearly doubled during his tenure, to more than 32,000 in 2016, and nine undergraduates were named Rhodes Scholars. Two Duke professors also won Nobel prizes during that time, and the university's athletic teams won 10 national championships while earning a 98 percent graduation rate.

Duke has fostered revitalization in Durham under his leadership through the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership, has funded several new community health clinics and has helped invest in redevelopment downtown – more than 2,500 Duke employees now work in renovated leased space there.

Brodhead's presidency also was marked by the national firestorm following the March 2006 allegation that three lacrosse players raped a stripper at a team party. The players were cleared of any wrongdoing a year later, but by then, their coach had been forced to resign and the 2016 season had been canceled. The players settled a lawsuit against Duke for an undisclosed sum.

Brodhead was named to succeed former President Nan Keohane in December 2003 and took office in July 2004. He came to Duke from Yale University, where he had earned three degrees, served as the A. Bartlett Giamatti Professor of English and American Studies and had been dean of Yale College, where he was responsible for undergraduate academic and student life, for 11 years.

In 2013, he received the Carnegie Corporation's Academic Leadership Award, which recognizes "vision and an outstanding commitment to excellence and equity in undergraduate education, the liberal arts, curricular innovation, reform of K-12 education, international engagement, and the promotion of strong links between their institutions and their local communities."

He plans to take a one-year sabbatical before returning to his position as the William Preston Few Professor of English at Duke. He called teaching and writing "the passions that lured me into the academic life in the first place" in his message.


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