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Can Duke really become anti-racist? p.22




Master of Environmental Management candidate and Orrin Pilkey Fellow Sarah Lipuma conducts research at the intersection of social equity and climate change. Sarah’s research is made possible by your unrestricted gifts of financial aid to the Nicholas School Annual Fund.

Finish the story at: Through gifts to the Annual Fund, planned giving and other contributions, the outrageously ambitious at Duke are forging an ever better world. What will you make possible?





Reunions is so much more than just one weekend. Don’t miss out on celebrating this important milestone.

shepherding scholars At Duke, nursing and engineering students have all the tools they will need to conquer the next big challenges in science and medicine. This is thanks to the generosity of donors like Diane L. Holditch-Davis, Ph.D., B.S.N.’73, FAAN, P’12 and her husband Mark Davis Ph.D., B.S.E.’73, P’12, who have made Duke the beneficiary of their IRAs.

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ambitious at Duke are forging an ever better world. What will you make possible?

CELEBRATING THE CLASSES OF: 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016


Winter 2020 | Vol. 106 | No. 3

Spring 2020 | Vol. 106 | No. 1

The man with the plans

With a Duke career extending across three presidencies, Tallman Trask has played a key role in remaking the university and its


surrounding community. By Robert J. Bliwise

Chris Hildreth






The root of the matter

An alumnus ponders the university’s anti-racist efforts. By Michael Ivory Jr.

Here a Sengi, There a Sengi


His ideas have helped save his family’s newspaper, but DAVID PERPICH ’99 does XX his work without fanfare.

Frank Fournier

In searching for an understudied African mammal, Lemur Center researchers lived a tale of “discovery” and loss. By Corbie Hill Houssein Rayaleh



Among trees


Marking time in Duke Forest, where every season offers lessons from the natural world. By Scott Huler

SARAH DERRIS ’21 explores the lingering colonial consciousness of her homeland. COVER: Illustration by Carlo Stanga


Scott Huler


FULLFRAME NOT BLOWING SMOKE: The Blue Devils' Halloween game was more treat than trick with a 53-19 win over UNC-Charlotte. Photo by Chris Hildreth




t’s been a semester when Duke has been, to a great extent, experienced online, from the ordering of meals through Duke Dining, to the ordering of books through the libraries, to workshops through Duke Creates (paint like Bob Ross!) to workouts through Duke Recreation (Zumba on your screen and in your home!). At semester’s end came a perfectly pitched virtual performance, courtesy of the a capella group Speak of the Devil. That was a virtually staged “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” a testimonial to hope, resilience, and the fact that good music really did emerge from the 1970s.

likelihood of violence, should DOJ plan a sting operation? Should it then apply “pretextual prosecutions” for even incidental violations of the law? Or would such an approach produce civil-liberties concerns? The DOJ students planned actions: “Let’s reach out to Germany over election interference.” They appealed for deliberation within their ranks: “Look over that document. It’s fairly exculpatory.” And as new crises flared up—like the need to respond to a leak about DOJ activity in Indiana—they assessed the complexity of it all: “It really is a lose-lose, possibly half-win situation.” The CEO of Valens, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, says he liked the shift from the typical crammed, single-day simulation in physical space. With more time comes more complexity, but also the luxury to make better decisions. Students can hang out in the simulated world a bit longer, and they can get to know the characters, how they fit together, and how their actions affect the unfolding scenario. From the other side of the equation, those shaping the scenario have more time to keep introducing inputs—news stories, tweets, memos from other teams. One takeaway, according to Gartenstein-Ross, is that decisions have “secondand third-order consequences,” some of which “are far less positive than we might hope.” He also wants students to appreciate how the actions of adversaries can throw a wrench into even the best-laid plans. “When I hear someone trying to sell a major policy proposal, and all they can see is an upside with no downside, it’s obvious that they are selling an illusion.” It was, above all else, a lesson about working in teams and across teams. At the start, the students were told that only an authentic spirit of cooperative endeavor could manage the maddening complexity. It would be a shared exercise of building, then, that metaphorical bridge over troubled water. —Robert J. Bliwise, editor

“It really is a lose-lose, possibly half-win situation.” One unusual twist on the virtual endeavor was a simulation sponsored by Duke’s American Grand Strategy program and led by the consulting firm Valens Global. The idea was to get students immersed in big, intractable problems contained in a scenario that, even back in early October, seemed within the range of the probable: It is early 2021, and the U.S. has just emerged from a turbulent election. The contested result has produced violence, some of it fueled by foreign actors. One of the teams, the Department of Justice, had a cast of characters—each of them inhabited by a particular student—ranging from the assistant attorney general for national security to the deputy director of the FBI. Through a string of virtual get-togethers, the students, one of them Zooming in from Duke Kunshan, processed an onslaught of information. This was meant to resemble an extended game of chess, with the players needing to be ever-adaptive. There was early word, for example, about white nationalists flocking to a small town in Indiana, where they were aiming to establish an exclusively white settlement. Given the








We can’t allow mayhem After reading the piece by the editor [“Under the Gargoyles,” Summer 2020], I have to comment on one statement that was highlighted: “A lot of what we’re now talking about, like the impulse to send in troops against the protestors, was the wrong thing to do then, and it remains the wrong thing to do.” Surely, when local police cannot control rioting, looting, and arson, it becomes necessary to get help from other agencies, like the FBI, Homeland Security, the National Guard, etc. Portland has seen riots every night for over two months. Peaceful protestors do not come out in the middle of the night and try to burn down buildings or break into stores to steal. Even Jesse Jackson condemned the recent rioting/looting in Chicago, which occurred after the police shot someone who was shooting at them. Unfortunately, many of those who live in our cities cannot protect themselves (or their businesses). They have been hurt the most by the mayhem. Neal Marrano M.D. ’88 Athens, Georgia It’s not all racism The relevance today of the 1968 Kerner Report (e.g., failures of predominantly white political leadership, questionable police actions) is apparent, but in drawing conclusions, shouldn’t the blame for the current state of affairs be shared a little? Granted, it took me too many years


after graduating from progress that has been a then all-white Duke made. SUMMER before I understood that Charles Philip Clutts ’61 2020 Harrisburg, I benefited from what North Carolina is now called “white privilege,” but now that Duke Built. Record speed. Where do we I and others get it, the go from here? constant reminders of At some point, years our nation’s systemic after graduating, I racism are growing wearealized I had been asking more from risome. I don’t think racism is totally Duke than any college could have responsible for the plight of minority been expected to give at that time, victims. Some of it falls on the victims now forty-eight years ago. The Duke themselves. described in the Summer 2020 issue Groups of any color are better off is the one which I had hoped to find. when their men marry the women I am glad to see that it has finally arthey have babies with and stay around rived. I read every article with interest to raise them, when they avoid drugs, and delight—and hope. It appears stay out of trouble, and prefer a that Duke has reached the point of paycheck to a handout, and when acting on a realization that college— they realize that “acting white” by like life—is an interdisciplinary studying, say, is not a bad thing. A exercise. Although a student might be lot of what is characterized as white more interested in computer science racism is just negative reaction to this than dance or art, both of those teach behavior. Whites admire the achievethe mind to be flexible in order to ments of ordinary and extraordinary see that scientific problem from a Black citizens, but they have trouble different perspective. ignoring the ones making the news It also appears that Duke is recogor otherwise affecting their lives in a nizing that this particular moment negative way. is about breaking old restrictions The point is that while slavery and on many different levels. And that subsequent discrimination were and includes revisiting things such as are terribly wrong, minority victims the Kerner Report that should have who abuse benefits or whose protests broken some of those restrictions result in looting, vandalism, or injudecades ago, but did not, and askries exacerbate the problem. Much ing, why not? In that context, the has been accomplished, but changquestion is not what makes the Black ing attitudes is a gradual process. Lives Matter movement necessary; Engaging in criminal activity—and we already know the answer to that, especially acts of violence—to call even if we do not want to admit it. attention to victimhood imperils the xxx

DUKE MAGAZINE WINTER 2020 | Vol. 106 | No. 3 | EDITOR: Robert J. Bliwise A.M. ’88 MANAGING EDITOR: Adrienne Johnson Martin SENIOR WRITER: Scott Huler STAFF WRITER: Corbie Hill CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Christina Holder M.Div. ’13 STAFF ASSISTANT: Delecia Hatcher PUBLISHER: Sterly L. Wilder ’83, senior associate vice president, engagement and development ART DIRECTOR: Lacey Chylack, phase5creative, inc. PRINTER: Progress Printing OFFICERS, DUKE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION: Mychal Harrison ’01, president, Sterly L. Wilder ’83, secretary-treasurer DUKE MAGAZINE Box 90572, Durham, N.C. 27708 PHONE: (919) 684-5114 FAX: (919) 681-1659 E-MAIL: ADDRESS CHANGES: Alumni Records, Box 90581, Durham, N.C. 27708 or • © 2020 Duke University, Published five times a year by the Duke Alumni Association.



Letters & Comments... continued However, one very real and pertinent question is how do we bring about equality when we know that a large segment of the population has no interest in seeing that happen, and no hesitation to use violence to preserve the status quo? To answer that question, we need to apply academic fields—history, science, economics, psychology, the social sciences, law,

second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, regardless of what you may think the writers intended. What do these experiences teach you? What visions do they create? What opportunities and paths can you perhaps now see to which you previously were blind? I was told those forty-eight years ago that a main purpose of college was to broaden the student’s horizons and vision. Duke appears “What opportunities to be on the proper course acand paths can you perhaps tually to achieve that, in addito helping to broaden the now see to which you tion horizons and visions of people previously were blind?” beyond its campus. Kudos. Kathryn Lynn ’72 Green Valley, Arizona medicine, technology, ethics—in a coordinated way we have never done A reminder before. And to do that, we need University archivist Valerie Gillispie’s the type of flexibility and creativity article [“A more complicated love,” found in dance and art to instill new Summer 2020] discussing the history perspectives, so that we can bring to of racial discrimination at Duke life solutions to problems that have, in brings to mind a Duke assembly in both the past and the present, seemed 1961 welcoming freshman men (all unsolvable. white) into the Class of 1965. This asThis moment is also full of potensembly was hosted by assistant dean of tial. Duke, as an institution, and its Trinity College Barney Lee Jones, who varied members, as individuals, may told all that Duke University wanted or may not have fully grasped the to integrate, but would not at this importance of that potential, or the time, “because the federal government fact that it can go in several different was telling them to do so.” directions. Dean Jones was also a minister and The one thing that seems to be was my professor in a freshman relilacking, or at least not yet described, gion class. His papers are in the Duke is to throw everything that is being University Archives. done together to create a cauldron of Richard A. Norton ’65 experience like nothing before. Dance Brooklyn, New York through an exhibit on what racial equality looks like; eat a feast honorA separate place ing all immigrants, from all times and I was a graduate student at Duke in all places, in front of an array of pic1972, and I remember being taken tures of feasts and famines—not only on a tour of the old hospital building of food—and express the role they by my Black classmate—yes, just played in immigration and what that one—who had worked there some might mean for the future of humanyears before. He pointed out a very ity; make art about plagues, past and large men’s room with two separate present, and their victims and heroes doors on the first floor of the hospital. and what we did or did not learn; Of course, it had been two separate express through whatever model you facilities, one Black, one white, that wish your personal reactions to the 6

had been combined only a few years before. I could almost make out the signs Black and White, which had been wood-stained over. Thanks for bringing back some memories. Joel Wolarsky M.H.A. ’74 Delray Beach, Florida A few suggestions As a Duke alumna and longtime Durham resident, I applaud Duke’s latest efforts to address racism throughout the university and to strive for an anti-racist environment. I particularly applaud the work that the athletics department is doing. If Duke wants to fully promote anti-racism, it must look at the impact of its actions in the larger Durham and North Carolina community—and perhaps beyond that. For example, the university should consider: • Why has Duke (both the university and health system) been known for generations as “The Plantation” by Black people in Durham? • How do decisions like large layoffs disproportionately affect Black people? • How do research practices in Black communities affect the community and individuals (both locally and globally)? • What would the impact of the light-rail system that the community had planned for years have been on low-income, mostly Black and Latinx communities? How did Duke’s dismantling of those plans and ending the opportunity it afforded affect those neighborhoods, Duke staff, and Duke patients? My hope is that at some point I can be proud of Duke’s progress toward anti-racism. Susan Guptill B.S.N. ’75 Durham At whose expense? After reading about all the amazing things that Duke grads, students,

and faculty do in the Summer 2020 Duke Magazine—life-saving scientific research; cutting-edge artistic endeavors that include issues around nuclear warfare; diligent work as a helpful neighbor to a marginalized, vulnerable coastal community—it was a bit jarring, to say the least, to see a page dedicated to a Dukie whose calling in life seems to be to help wealthy women get wealthier [Forever Duke mini: Lauren Hasson ’04]. I understand the disparity between male and female wages and the pressing need to advocate for fair wages for women, but given the amounts of money mentioned, and whom I imagine to be her clientele, this just seems to be part of the increasing economic disparities in our country. I would have found it praiseworthy, noteworthy for Duke Magazine, and a valuable gift to the world if she were working with single mothers making $25,000 a year, or women working in not-forprofits, service industries, and social services making $40,000 a year. In such settings, women often face both gender-based wage disparities and the inability to provide basics for their families. While attempting to right gender-based wrongs, her work appears to contribute enthusiastically to the iniquities and inequities of systemic, entrenched capitalism in our country: The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. She seems to be participating in the maintenance and, in fact, the strengthening, of the status quo of corporate America—only the names of the VPs in upper-management meetings might sound different than before. Lorraine Mangione ’76 Keene, New Hampshire Lauren Hasson responds: Income inequality is a complex technical and emotional issue without a one-size-fits-all solution. I created the Develop[Her] programs based on my

own experience. I initially targeted technology professionals because that is an area where I felt immediately qualified to contribute because I am a woman in tech. Today, many of my clients are women struggling professionally and financially, some removed from the workforce for many years. They are incredibly hard-working and resourceful, and I’m proud to help them gain the confidence and tangible skills that change the trajectories of their careers, improving their lives and the lives of their families and colleagues. Since launching Develop[Her], I’ve partnered across the education and socioeconomic spectra, such as with two-year and four-year colleges and universities to empower students to seek valuable employment opportunities and fair compensation before they ever enter the workforce. I’ve also partnered with programs that prepare underprivileged students and underrepresented young professionals for careers in technology. Opportunities like these can drastically improve the financial well-being of every person they reach. If I inspired others to give back and improve any aspect of the lives of others, then I hope that is viewed as a good thing. Duke taught me to come off the sidelines and get in the game. I’m proud of my efforts and the

to take action that makes the world a better place. Our assessments and criticisms of the actions of others should adhere to words attributed to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability.” Duke can help end conflict Beyond COVID and elections, much attention is now being paid to issues of racism. As a former trustee of a very prestigious children’s hospital in an inner city, I witnessed the tragedies of so many Black children being subject to expanded drug use, guns, and violence as well as the discrimination in their job opportunities, education, and housing. I wrote letters to mayors, unanswered, that one helpful solution is to create new, substantial business enterprises in those zones. Better education would then follow along, partially employer-assisted. So many Blacks have recently advanced and have assimilated, like my father, born abroad of a poor family and coming to America to learn how to advance. But certainly so many young Black Americans are missing out on that dream.

That is still the last tough mile, and I beg the university to take seriously teaching full courses in “conflict resolution. ” work that I’ve done to help professionals, students, the underprivileged, and the underrepresented seek new opportunities with fair and equitable compensation. I acknowledge that there are many other programs worthy of recognition and encourage everyone involved to support a range of initiatives addressing different challenges. Helping others achieve fair compensation and financial well-being will accrue to everyone’s benefit. At the end of the day, we should all strive to be effective teachers and lead our students

I recently wrote my third novel, Sopris, ironically just prior to this past summer’s city violence. The subject was about ways to resolve conflict without resorting to violent behavior. That is still the last tough mile, and I beg the university to take seriously teaching full courses in “conflict resolution.” Conflict is part of our natural state, between two people, two groups, two nations. It is unending. It is Hollywood’s main entertainment value. Duke can be instrumental in DUKE MAGAZINE WINTER 2020


Letters & Comments... continued recognizing the nature and causes of conflict, not to eliminate it, but to resolve it without violence. Please! Roger Colley ’60 Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania

in the U.S., we pretend that we don’t have class boundaries, but we do. I remember being shocked when a friend got a new outfit with the credit card her dad had given her, “for emergencies”—“It’s my emergency Thanks for the laugh outfit,” she calmly announced. And In reading this article [“Let’s Dance,” learning about the educational system Summer 2020], I was stopped by this in private schools was a revelation to paragraph: “He sees our current mome. I wasn’t poor, but come from a ment as a mess: Neoliberal capitalism large family. My dad was a mixed-race has begun collapsing, the immigrant, who’d been climate is in crisis; we’re all a refugee as a child. My at each other’s throats. But mom’s family was also that raises a dance question. large and not terribly ‘How should we move?’ ” prosperous. She used to I read this aloud to my tell me her mom would husband, and he burst ask her if she’d had the out laughing. Thanks for orange juice, as you the day-brightener, Duke were only allowed one. Magazine. (And do let us The essay left out deknow the minute neoliberal liberate snobbery, which capitalism completes its I experienced, in terms “I remember being shocked when collapse—you’ve obviously of not having goodgot an inside source.) enough stereo equipa friend got a new outfit with the Eve Silberman ’74 ment, clothes, or what credit card her dad had given her, 'for Ann Arbor, Michigan have you. I had hung around with wealthier emergencies'—'It’s my emergency What he realized kids in high school, but outfit,' she calmly announced.” Wonderful reading about hadn’t faced that. Sheon Ladson Wilson [SpeIn the end, I found cial Issue 2020, E-newsletter my tribe of most#1]. I’m glad Duke Magazine is not song about Eleazor Wheelock. So he ly scrappy New York-area kids on just publishing the rosy part. asked me to write one. I did. Entitled scholarships, working multiple jobs to I was a grad student at Duke, “The Old Duke Privy,” it debuted at get by. I also hung out with privileged having left Harvard Law because I a Duke basketball game. The next kids who didn’t have a snobbish bone was bored. I hadn’t been an English morning, the dean of the Woman’s in their body. major—in fact, I had had only two College called. The song was immediAt any rate, I was fascinated to learn English courses beyond Freshman ately proscribed. of another’s replicant story. The idea Frank Gado A.M. ’61, Ph.D. ’68 English, but I had done exceptionally that someone would have a second Schenectady, New York well on the GREs—and the Duke home was just as alien to me, as a professor who accepted me obviously seventeen-year-old. Class at Duke Elizabeth Choy Moorman ’82 hadn’t noticed. So we entered into a I just read Ladson Wilson’s memory New Hope, Pennsylvania tacit conspiracy, making up courses I essay, and I couldn’t believe how much had not actually taken. I can’t say that it echoed my own experience. Here my graduate courses were revelatory. Quite the opposite. But I did develop my own ideas. I was an autodidact. SEND LETTERS TO: Box 90572, Durham, N.C. 27708 or e-mail And I have continued in that mode Please limit letters to 300 words and include your full name, address, and class year or throughout my life. I learned a lot Duke affiliation. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity. Owing to space conthrough arguing with my fellow straints, we are unable to print all letters received. Published letters represent the range students. of responses received. For additional letters: Also, I arrived just before the 8

civil rights movement exploded. As a Northeasterner plunked down in the South for the first time in my life, I learned a lot about America. I shared a house with a Harvard grad who organized a singing group that sang at university events as well as at the Washington Duke Inn for business groups. One night, he noted that Duke had no song poking fun at itself—as Dartmouth had in its

Illustration by Daniel Zalkus

DEMOCRACY IN ACTION: The Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center was turned into an early-voting site, attracting a record-breaking 12,694 voters casting ballots. Photo by Megan Mendenhall





They C You


Walking with the team that reminds students of the COVID-era social rules


early in the fall term, associate dean of students Amy Powell is taking a walk through a West Campus residential courtyard, and she sees three guys sharing one of the tables under a shelter for lunch. “Hey, friends?” she calls. “If you’re done eating, can I ask you to put your masks back on?” Three masks go back on. There is at least a hint of eye-rolling, to be sure, but overall the guys just go along, doing what they know they’re supposed to do. Part of the reason they know is the C-Team, which is why Powell is patrolling. That’s C as in compliance: compliance with all the rules and principles Duke has adopted in its effort to keep the campus open and as free of COVID-19 as possible. (Or maybe it’s C for caring, or COVID, or just because there’s already an A-Team for bonfires and a B-Team for protests; anyhow, C it is.) Duke’s success in opening its campus has not come without planning, say Powell and other team members. With significant spread showing up at North Carolina’s public universities, staff and faculty recognized that many students are, after all, late teens and would be more likely to succeed with some gentle supervision. The C-team provides that gentle supervision in the form of teams of staff volunteers, mostly from student services. They walk East and West Campus in pairs, looking for students not following Duke’s coronavirus


guidelines: two students to a glider, keep that distance, “and if you’re done eating,” says team member Jim Hodges, director of conference and event services, “mask up.” There are shifts all day, from morning till midnight, with a pair walking each campus. The team is just an extension of the policies of Duke United, the university coronavirus response that includes mask requirements, contact tracing, and required testing both before students arrived and regularly once on

“We know how you feel about it, but we’re here to make sure you stay here.” campus. Says Hodges, “Duke has chosen to take the path that’s hard.” Which means a lot of walking. If you’re of a certain age, it’s impossible to see Powell or other C-Team members walking campus and scoping out students without thinking of Miss Grundy from the Archie comics, floating around a dance in the gym, frowning, making sure the kids don’t get involved in any of that dangerous hug dancing. “You embrace it,” she says of the Miss Grundy role, laughing. “We know how you feel about it, but we’re here to make sure you stay here.” In fact,

that’s the point. When the decision was made to open campus for the fall term, Powell says, faculty raised “a lot of questions about adult presence.” So being the nosey middle-school teacher has its benefits. In general, “I have been super impressed” at students’ cooperation, says Powell. “Even at night, when there are bigger crowds, they’re wearing masks.” And if they’re a little closer than they should be? “That’s when we have to intervene a little more.” It’s not just frowny faces, though. Sometimes when C-Team members see people wearing masks and appropriately distancing, they distribute coupons for the library’s Perk or the Trinity Café on East Campus. They also share thank-you cards: “We see you!” the cards say. “THANK YOU for doing your part to keep the Duke Community safe.” The team gets calls on occasion. One R.A. called the team, concerned about a video-game tournament in a dorm lounge; when the team arrived to check, all were keeping their distance and had masks on, so no worries—just a walk across campus for the C-Team. “I’m certainly getting my steps in,” Powell says. Students complain a bit, of course, but they complain about all the sterner measures. With the library requiring assigned seats and book reservations, students have said the security feels like Fort Knox. Powell is fine with that. “If it’s Fort Knox,” she says, “they’re all right.”—Scott Huler



UKE’S AGGRESSIVE COVID-19 surveillance and testing effort was highly effective in minimizing the spread of the disease among students. That’s the finding in a case study released by the Centers for Disease Control in mid-November. Ahead of arriving on campus, students were required to self-quarantine for fourteen days, sign a code-of-conduct pledge to obey mask-wearing and social-distancing guidelines, and have a COVID test. Once classes started, the university conducted regular surveillance testing using pooled samples, meaning those samples were batched together; the batches could be broken into individual samples and tested separately to




C O N T A I N M E N T identify the source of a positive finding. Students conducted twice-weekly tests themselves (at least once a week for those off campus), returned the samples to campus sites, and performed daily symptom self-monitoring through a Duke-developed smartphone app. If they were symptomatic or had been exposed to someone with the coronavirus, the university’s contact-tracers went to work, and those students were temporarily quarantined. Between August and October, the Duke Human Vaccine Institute processed 80,000 samples. The result: Among students, the average per-capita infection prevalence was lower than in the surrounding community, and Duke avoided the large outbreaks seen on other campuses. Overall, the pooled testing identified eightyfour student cases, with 51 percent asymptomatic—that is, showing no symptoms but infected just the same. n





Brief mentions of things going on among Duke researchers, scholars, and other enterprises



Turns out it actually is not easy being green—it’s not a simple matter of PIGMENTATION. Some frogs are green not because of skin pigmentation but because they hijack a bile pigment. Whatever works, frogs. ➔ If predators can’t see you, they can’t eat you. So fish who live in the inky blackness of deep ocean have evolved ultra-black skin that keeps them from reflecting even a tiny bit of light by evolving pigment packets called MELANOSOMES, which trap light. ➔ A mutation in the spines of research-workhorse zebrafish makes them look like fossil spines, giving insights into spinal evolution. ➔ Birds may make all that racket in the morning as a sort of warmup. SONGBIRDS noisier in the morning were better singers later in the day. ➔ Malaria parasites use a combination of liquid proteins to protect themselves from the fever a body runs as it fights them. This understanding may help scientists figure out new ways to fight MALARIA. ➔ Platonic friendships among male and female BABOONS seem to yield longer lives for the male baboons; the females groom them, whereas males do not groom one another. ➔ Young DOLPHINS pick friends carefully, too: As they move from pod to pod, they keep up with their besties. It’s like networking. ➔ One way to avoid the next pandemic? Reduce WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING and forest loss. The more that separates people and wildlife, the less likely diseases are to spread from them to us.

PEOPLE North Carolina county ELECTIONS OFFICIALS do not appear to have changed polling places for partisan advantage. ➔ A new BLOOD ASSAY can identify the body’s response to various viruses before symptoms appear, improving treatment, quarantine decisions, and public-health interventions. ➔ Progressive churches have become more politically active during the Trump era, to the point where they are now likely more active than conservative CONGREGATIONS. ➔ TEXTING PARENTS has long proven helpful for kids in early-learning programs. The simple enhancement of automatically enrolling parents in (and allowing them to opt out of, instead of requiring them to sign up for) texting programs yields significant improvements in the children’s development. ➔ Two-thirds of food options near the ten HBCUs in North Carolina are rated “unfavorable.”



MISCELLANY The way cells derive ENERGY FROM RESPIRATION involves positive-charged protons crossing a membrane while two negatively charged electrons bifurcate: go in different directions, undergoing different processes. This is something like a water wheel, where the electrons behave like water, the wheel turning one electron into energy, which it uses to lift the other back to a higher-energy state. People have been wondering about this for a long time, and now you know. ➔ An artificial-intelligence program was able to take highly pixelated images and turn them into extremely realistic, detailed imaginary faces. ➔ Diminishing GROUNDWATER supplies are eating into Midwest grain yields. Uh-oh.

DUKE In April 2020, Duke launched a research program called COMMUNITY HEALTH WATCH, which provides symptom support and guidance, in both English and Spanish, for people caring for themselves at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. In its first six weeks, the program provided support to more than 1,500 people. The Duke team reached out to other organizations providing help and created the nationwide Pandemic Response Network. ➔ Duke received a $5 million grant to lead a five-year program creating a new national center to develop wireless communications and networking protocols fast, reliable, and resilient enough for use by the U.S. AIR FORCE. ➔ Duke researchers found a way to make VENTILATORS safer and more efficient when splitting them between patients. ➔ To sustain students through the exceptionally long semester break this year, Duke has designed WINTER BREAKAWAY, a cluster of two-week online programs in early January that will encourage students to step outside their usual areas of study. ➔ Duke has received a $16 million grant from THE DUKE ENDOWMENT in support of efforts to increase faculty diversity and campus inclusion, supporting the university’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism Initiative. n

Go to for links to further details and original papers.

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Not just a game In this course, students at play is a path to sociocultural understanding.


n the spring of 2020, JaBria Bishop built her first video game. It was a 2D side-scroller—think Super Mario Brothers—which she believes she called Lunar Dreamscape. In it, a little girl wakes up in a lost world. Bishop’s idea for this whimsical game was for the players, too, to feel lost, so she designed it accordingly. “I wanted the player to also feel how the little girl feels,” she says. Bishop—today a senior; then a junior—was a student in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies department chair Shai Ginsburg and professor Leo Ching’s “Games and Culture” course. Her project communicated one of the class’s key takeaways: The mechanics of a game (how the controls work; how the character interacts with its world; what the player can and can’t do) serve the same function as, say, meter in poetry or key and tempo in music. She had learned to view games analytically and understand the emotional and conceptual underpinning of something as seemingly innocuous as a video-game character’s abilities. Indeed, gaming permeates the lives of the middle and upper classes globally, Ginsberg says, but the meaning, the function of our video and tabletop gaming habits is rarely addressed in depth. In short, play isn’t taken seriously. The European Protestant conceit, Ginsburg continues, maintains that work and play are a binary, yet he and Ching reject this dichotomy. “Games and Culture” parses gaming with the same rigor with which one would study literature or film. It’s also structured like a role-playing game (RPG), with the syllabus outlining multiple “quests” rather than a single, shared set of assignments. Coursework, too, involves playing a lot of video and board games.


“Sometimes when you play it, a game is designed in such a way that at least gives you a sense of agency, even though you might not have it.”

GAMER: Leo Ching

In Ginsburg and Ching’s course, the subject is the method. “We hear a lot of professors talk about these alternative ways of pedagogy and blah blah blah, but oftentimes, those are done in an abstract way,” says Ching (whose first favorite video game was Space Invaders). “For us, playing board games with the student actually concretizes some of this sense of equality.” Indeed, when the dice are out, when the pieces are on the board, and when the cards are dealt,


there are no instructors and students—just players. Ginsburg (who loved Legos from an early age) compares it to siblings playing together: The age difference disappears. Especially when the class plays a new-to-everyone game together, all are novices and there’s a momentary suspension of the teacher-student hierarchy. This is by design. The course is just like a game, says Ching. “Sometimes when you play it, a game is designed in such a way that at least gives you a sense of agency, even though you might not have it. You feel like you’re doing something because the game allows that interactivity.” Ching grew up in Japan and Taiwan, where the education system privileged rote learning. After that upbringing, he found the participation and discussion within American education particularly stimulating. Yet he and Ginsburg believe students can be offered yet more active roles in their schooling; that the teacher-student hierarchy can

INTERACTIVE: In the “Games and Culture” course, students explore the social context of games like “Rap Godz.”

be at least paused, allowing students to co-create the course. “It’s like if we talk about community theater,” Ching offers. In the course he, Ginsburg, and each semester’s students co-create, their play includes an unpacking of games’ social context and subtext. Some of this is overt, such as gaming’s troubling history of representation. Statistically, Ginsburg says, you’re more likely to see a sheep on a game box than a woman, while nonwhite and LGBTQ characters are even rarer. Ching and Ginsburg include modern games that consciously buck this trend, such as Omari Akil’s Rap Godz. As a Black man, Akil is rare among board or video-game designers. Accordingly, representation is expressed through mechanics, too. Most game designers are white males and most game characters are white American males, Ginsburg says. They’re aggressive and assertive, and gameplay is defined by competition, conflict, and the pursuit of a goal. The feminist critique, Ching says, holds that this is a heteronormative, masculine game design. “This seemingly very democratic, open-ended, fun space” is actually informed by a chauvinistic white privilege “that we have to undo,” adds Ginsburg. “We have to unpack this facade of inclusion and fun.” It’s heavy conceptual lifting, implying deep philosophical questions. What, Ginsburg wonders, does game design communicate to an international audience about American culture? About Korean culture? About Japanese culture? And would, Ching wonders, broader representation in game design result in different definitions of game? In games with no goal? In collaborative games? In their course, such lofty hypotheticals and sociocultural analyses are explored through play. —Corbie Hill



voters into becoming voters. Thus, the balance between the two parties in turnout is evening out; this was especially evident in 2016 and 2020. However, I would say that nothing in electoral politics is forever. If trends continue, the Democrats once again might become the party with higher expected turnout.

Q&A John Aldrich, who specializes in American politics and behavior, is Pfizer-Pratt University Professor of political science, a former president of the American Political Science Association, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The common view is that high turnout favors Democrats. With the recent election, has that assumption been forever overturned? There’s a Democratic advantage in that more in the electorate favor [that] party. Even so, Democrats draw disproportionately from those who vote at lower than typical rates, such as minorities, the disadvantaged, and the


young. But the Democrats have been building support among the college-educated, who are among the most likely to vote. Over a decade or so, the Republicans have built increasing support among rural whites and others. Those groups also are somewhat less likely to vote. That historical reality helps explain Trump’s focus on energizing his base, which is all about moving traditional non-

Shaun King

Is one takeaway from the election that voters now resist crossing party lines as they consider candidates for office? This election looks like a very strong affirmation of party-line voting. It was not just Trump who outperformed expectations; it was Republican candidates for the Senate, House, and state legislatures, up and down the ballot. The thickening and deepening of the partisan divide has been under way for a long time now, and each election extends that partisan cleavage more. Many call this the rise of identity politics, but it is even more than that. It is identity politics reinforced by issues, ideologies, and values, and it is further reinforced by the tendency of everyone to interact with fellow partisans and especially media in their echo-chamber bubbles of (mis-)information.

Have the Democratic and Republican brands changed over time, maybe in terms of whom they appeal to or the values they stand for? One of the critical questions for political scientists and political historians alike is to understand when and how such changes occur and with what consequences. While this is a continuing process, the modern Republican Party emerges out of the breakdown of the one-party South, starting under President Reagan and reaching a point of


real success in 1994: Not only did Republicans break the forty-year hold of the Democrats on the House majority, but they also won a majority of House seats in the South for the first time and chose a heavily Southern leadership, led by Speaker [Newt] Gingrich. This transformed the party of Lincoln, which relied exclusively on Northern votes, to one that had a strong base in the South—and among white Southerners, in particular. Trump’s inability to condemn white supremacy is one legacy. There are many other aspects of deep and important changes. Trump appears to

true for lots of races, not just the presidency. It may very well be that they did not miss by more than a reasonable margin of error, but that it was pervasive is worrying. I would start by understanding that doing high-quality polling is getting more difficult—and therefore more expensive—year after year. One possibility is to have major media form a consortium, as they do already for the exit polls, and allocate the resources to get a common set of high-quality polls of the nation and of key states, if not all states. One challenge is to get the best possible snapshot of the electorate,

Lots of money flowed into the campaign, including downballot races. Is there reason to question the importance of money in contributing to victory? Money—actually the things that money can buy—is necessary for an effective campaign in anything like a competitive environment. It is not sufficient. You have to have something to say that resonates with the people whose support you are pursuing. That has long been the advantage of the incumbent: a known quantity with access to resources and something to say about what she or he worked on

Many call this the rise of identity politics, but it is even more than that. have weakened if not broken the Republican commitment to free-market principles and small deficits. But who knows if that will continue? Democrats have become the party that embraces a commitment to the environment, a set of principles that was at least shared if not more strongly held by Republicans at the start of the twentieth century. Democrats were the pro-life party, Republicans the pro-choice party, until around 1980. Everything changes. What matters is how and when.

Again the polls seemed to miss the mark. How would you reform political polling?

While there is much work to be done to understand polling’s successes and failures, it seems clear that they did not lead us to expect how close 2020 was going to be. And this appears to be

since each poll is but a snapshot of a single moment in time, and that is what inspires the thought of a consortium of some sort. These are designed to actually include in the poll the full set of people. A second challenge is to worry about whether people are reporting their attitudes and choices accurately. We’ve been hearing for two election cycles about the possibility of “shy” Trump voters. I suspect there are very few of them—and if there are any, they are likely shy not just about their support for Trump but for other candidates, too. But there is so much other relevant information out there, in social media and in other public forums, that the future seems, to me, a combining of all kinds of “big data” with polling data to reach better conclusions.

since the last election. Challengers need money to compete against those advantages. But this time, there was so much money floating around that campaigns seemed to be looking for some way to be able to spend it all!

How did you do your own voting? Did you vote early in person, vote by mail, or vote on Election Day?

My wife and I filled out mail ballots, but I decided to take them to the Duke early-voting site for hand delivery. It was easy; there was no one else voting or doing handdelivery of ballots when I went there. And the ability to interact with poll workers doing what turned out to be such a wonderful job in support of the community was heartwarming. —Robert J. Bliwise













Masking the truth


A study goes viral for all the wrong reasons.

to COVID-19. Martin Fischer lost most of a month to masks. “I’m not getting anything done other than this,” says Fischer, associate research professor in the department of chemistry. “The last three weeks have been this, 100 percent.” By “this” he meant media availabilities, Zoom interviews, and various other responses to his attempt to help out as masks spread through the culture. Surprise, “especially since my usual line of work is not really involved in topics that get a lot of media attention.” Fischer works in optics, developing techniques in microscopy in fields like materials science and biomedical materials. Then came COVID-19, and he helped out a colleague. Eric Westman, associate professor of medicine, was working with other physicians on a project called Covering the Triangle that, in the early days of the pandemic, helped sew, acquire, and distribute masks to people in the Triangle who needed them. Westman had a line on some masks he could buy in bulk, Fischer says, but at that point getting masks was a somewhat dodgy business, and Westman wanted to make VERYONE LOSES TIME


sure they worked. Sending them to a lab would be expensive and slow and might not even really measure them under real-world conditions. So Westman sent an e-mail asking for help to the physics department. It ended up with Fischer and his optics techniques. Fischer had seen scientists at the National Institutes of Health use a method of widening a laser beam vertically into a sort of sheet of light; through a computer algorithm, they could then count droplets in the air as they passed through. A subject spoke through a mask into a special box with no air currents. Fischer followed the method and built a quick and cheap mechanism to do the same. To compare the mask Westman was interested in, Fischer expanded the idea, using whatever masks happened to be lying around. Don’t think about a big complex setup, he points out. He had to get permission from the dean to come on campus to do the work; his daughter, a Duke student, functioned as his assistant because they lived in the same house and so transmission wasn’t an issue. It was a kind of spare-time project. “This project is unfunded,” he said. They tested fourteen mask types, with one per-









“This was not a large-scale systematic study of all mask types under all conditions. But we developed a very simple method of visualizing the effects of a mask.”

son talking through the mask and the other using the camera. And again: The point was the method, and sharing it so others could quickly test masks hither and yon. “This was not a largescale systematic study of all mask types under all conditions,” Fischer says. “But we developed a very simple method of visualizing the effects of a mask.” The data looked worthy, so he and his colleagues thought this easy and cheap method of mask measurement should spread. “It’s super easy to set up. Let’s hope people pick this up and do their own demonstrations and quick checks,” Fischer said. “This was never intended to be a certification or an endorsement of any kind of mask.” Tell that to the media. The study came out. Then came dozens of stories, mostly focusing on the fact that according to the study’s measurements, one mask—a thin neck gaiter—actually resulted in more

droplets than no mask at all. Reporters got excited, and stories about some masks being worse than nothing at all spread, were criticized, were responded to, were amended. And always with more phone calls to Fischer. Mind you, Fischer points out, the study made no claims about the effects of more or fewer droplets, the viral load per particle, or anything like that. This was a quick proof-of-principle test, and it worked. As science, it was something of a counterexample to his daughter, who got her first publication out of it. “I did repeatedly tell her, don’t think this is usual science,” he says of the study, which took a couple of weeks of research and was printed a couple of months later. “Usual science works differently. How often do you go into a lab and a couple days of data-taking you have a paper that has a million-anda-half views?” That’s a lot of views; it’s spreading quickly. Spreading almost like a…almost like something. —Scott Huler




Marjoleine Kars ’82, Ph.D. ’94, an associate professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and author of Blood on the River: A Chronicle of Mutiny and Freedom on the Wild Coast (The New Press), about how she found this untold story and what compelled her to write about it.



early praise for

blood on the river

$27.99 U.S.

“Marjoleine Kars has brought from the archives the voices of the enslaved, both in hope and in defeat. A tale of importance for our time.”

“A masterpiece. . . . Marjoleine Kars has unearthed a little-known rebellion in the Dutch colony of Berbice and rendered its story with insight, empathy, and wisdom. You’ll find no easy platitudes herein. Instead, you’ll find human beings in full relief, acting with courage, kindness, calculation, and mendacity in their quest for selfdetermination. Blood on the River is a story for the ages.” —Elizabeth Fenn, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Encounters at the Heart of the World

—Natalie Zemon Davis, author of Trickster Travels and The Return of Martin Guerre

O 900 defeated freedom seekers. Here was ifting through documents Bl o o d in the Dutch Nation- R i v e r a story that had to be told. Bl o o d o n t he R i v e r al Archives, I hit gold. A It was a topsy-turvy world of shifting little-known but massive alliances. The former colonial masters slave rebellion had ocwere confined to a few plantations near curred in 1763-64 in Dutch Berbice, the coast while the formerly enslaved MARJOLEINE KARS now Guyana. The archives held boxes of were in control of most of the colomaterial about the conflict that played ny. Caribs and Arawaks fought on the out in this impenetrable land of savanside of the colonists, eager to keep Afnas and subtropical rainforests crisscrossed by rivrican competitors out of their territory. Dutch solers. While most slave rebellions were suppressed in diers sent from neighboring Suriname mutinied and a matter of days, this one lasted more than a year. joined the very rebels they had come to defeat. African ethnicities and competing visions of freedom divided the rebels. Self-emancipated people welcomed the overthrow of slavery while dodging both the rebels and the Dutch. In the aftermath, the Dutch tried the leaders and interrogated hundreds of others. Their accounts provide a vivid picture of the internal workings of the rebellion and of the emotional life and aspirations of the enslaved in Berbice. Popular politics in the Berbice rebellion were as complex as any other in this era. During the Age of Revolutions (17631820s), not only elites but also peasants, Indians, ordinary whites, and enslaved people fought for greater autonomy and better lives, though how they defined these values differed greatly. Leaders of the Berbice rebellion wanted liberty to run a colony of their own with a measure Courtesy Marjoleine Kars of human bondage in place. Ordinary The collection included a remarkable diplomatic self-emancipated people wanted autonomy to tend exchange—letters between the Dutch governor and their own gardens without being exploited. This difrebel leader Coffij, paddled back and forth by Amference was a common theme in the revolutionary erindians in dugouts. Even more astounding was age: Elites wanted one thing; commoners wanted the post-rebellion testimony, revealing the voices of another; both called it “freedom.” n marjoleine kars

is an associate professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. A noted historian

of slavery, she is the author of Breaking Loose Together. She lives in Washington, DC.


“One of the great slave revolts in modern history has at last found a gifted historian to tell its epic tale. Using a breathtaking archival discovery to make the Berbice rebels vivid flesh-and-blood actors, Marjoleine Kars deeply enriches the global scholarship on the history of slavery and resistance.” —Marcus Rediker, author of The Amistad Rebellion “Vivid. . . . The aborted attempt at freedom she chronicles provides a harrowing counterpoint to the American and French revolutions that would soon follow.” —Russell Shorto, author of The Island at the Center of the World

thousands of slaves in the Dutch colony of Berbice—in present-day Guyana—

launched a massive rebellion that came amazingly close to succeeding. Surrounded by jungle

and savannah, the revolutionaries (many of them African-born) and Europeans struck and parried

on the

“This riveting story offers a close look at the inner dynamics of a slave war— its fraught alliances and antagonisms, strategies and tactics, and the grievances and aspirations of its combatants and resistors.” —Vincent Brown, author of Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War


Jacket design by Emily Mahon

Author photograph by Tim Ford, UMBC


the untold story of the

b e rb ic e s la v e re b e llio n


Jacket image: map of the Berbice River and plantations in the chartered colony of Berbice, by Jan Daniël Knapp (1742), Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

“Takes readers on a moving journey deep into a colonial heart of darkness. Drawing on rich and challenging sources, Marjoleine Kars reveals enslaved people making a rebellion that lingers in memory and landscape.” —Alan Taylor, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Internal Enemy and William Cooper’s Town

for an entire year. In the end, the Dutch prevailed because of one unique advantage—their ability to get soldiers and supplies from neighboring colo-

A C hr onicl e of Mut iny a nd Fr e e dom on t he Wil d C oa st

nies and from Europe. Blood on the River is the explosive story of this little-known revolution, one that almost changed the face of the Americas. Drawing on nine hundred interrogation transcripts collected by the Dutch when the Berbice rebellion finally collapsed, and which were subsequently buried in Dutch archives, historian Marjoleine Kars reconstructs an extraordinarily rich day-by-day account of this pivotal event. Blood on the River provides a rare in-depth look at the political vision of enslaved people at the dawn of the Age of Revolution and introduces us to a set of real characters, vividly drawn against the exotic tableau of a riverine world of plantations, rainforest, and Carib allies who controlled a vast South American hinterland. An astonishing and original work of history, Blood on the River will change our understanding of revolutions, slavery, and the story of freedom in the New World.


RECOMMENDATIONS from Corey Sobel ’07

In The Redshirt, Sobel—a former Blue Devil linebacker—explores identity, masculinity, class, and more through the coming-ofage stories of two football players at a private university in North Carolina. Here, he shares books that inspired him.

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens I like my Dickens late and dark, and have a passion for this story of an imprisoned debtor and his daughter. Dickens is thrilling in how he dramatizes systems—social, political, and in the case of Little Dorrit, economic. Debt deforms William Dorrit and his unendingly loyal daughter Amy, and this novel helped me think through how college football’s system of indentured servitude mauls bodies and souls in a similar fashion. Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson This novel in verse’s protagonist is Geryon, a boy who also happens to be a mythical winged red monster, and it follows him through an abuse-haunted childhood into his doomed love for Herakles, the hero fated to destroy him. My novel’s narrator, Miles, also feels baffled by the strange body he’s made to wear, and likewise struggles to remember that that body is capable of taking flight.

The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, Second Edition My novel’s other main character, Reshawn McCoy, researches an enslaved poet I based on George Moses Horton. In the mid-1800s, Horton taught himself to read and went on to publish three volumes of deft, heartbreaking verse. I first learned about him in an AAS course with the brilliant Maurice Wallace, and still own the Norton anthology we used as our primary textbook. It was a delight to open the book during my research—and mortifying to read my late-adolescent marginalia. The History of the Siege of Lisbon by José Saramago A master satirist of power structures, there are books of Saramago’s that are more directly linked to The Redshirt’s themes (like The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis), but this novel has a very personal resonance for me. Its protagonist is a lonely proofreader awakened to his true self by a woman he loves and a book he writes; I got married as I was starting The Redshirt, and then worked on the manuscript between drab freelance proofreading jobs. You can fill in the rest.


State of Empowerment: Low-Income Families and the New Welfare State (University of Michigan Press) Carolyn Barnes, assistant professor of public policy and political science, and Andrea Louise Campbell How to Write a Horror Movie (Routledge) Neal Bell, professor of the practice in the department of theater studies The Lonely Letters (Duke University Press) Ashon T. Crawley A.M. ’11, Ph.D. ’13 Sisters in Hate: American Women on the Front Lines of White Nationalism (Little, Brown & Company) Seyward Darby ’07 The Haitians: A Decolonial History by Jean Casimir (UNC Press) Translated by Laurent Dubois, professor of Romance studies and history; foreword by Walter D. Mignolo, professor of Romance studies and literature Lula and His Politics of Cunning: From Metalworker to President of Brazil (UNC Press) John D. French, professor of history Survival of the Friendliest: Understanding Our Origins and Rediscovering Our Common Humanity (Random House) Brian Hare, professor of evolutionary anthropology and psychology and neuroscience, and Vanessa Woods, director of Duke Puppy Kindergarten The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew (Blackstone Publishing) Denise Heinze Ph.D. ’90 Gatecrashers: The Rise of the Self-Taught Artist in America (University of California Press) Katherine Jentleson Ph.D. ’15




An alumnus ponde

rs th e

university’s anti-racist efforts.

In the spring of 2018, I joined a group of student leaders and student activists in a protest on the stage of Page Auditorium during Duke’s Reunions Weekend. This weekend was a gilded one, as newly inaugurated President Vincent E. Price welcomed generations of Duke graduates to revel in just how far the university had come on so many accounts. In fact, this was a special celebration of the legacy of student activism. What troubled me and my fellow protestors, however, was what truths Duke seemed to be sidestepping to justify celebrating what it called “progress.” There was, for one, the droves of student activists who would not set foot on campus, exhausted or wounded after years of researching, protesting, and challenging Duke, only to see change happen at a glacial pace. Adding to the toll taken on their well-being, just by virtue of the work of activism, there were Duke’s punitive measures. Through gestures ranging from a summons from Student Conduct to a police presence to discourage protest, the historical Duke has had no issue with flexing its muscle to quell dissent. For it to claim to honor past activists while threatening current-day activists presented an especially stinging irony to us.

B y Mic h a

el Ivory Jr.

We were also protesting because we did not want to allow Duke any opportunity to believe that its work was done. There were issues both on and off campus so pressing that an institution as vast and as powerful as Duke celebrating its progress felt premature, to say the least. Gentrification continued to force nonwhite, and especially Black, Durham residents farther and farther away from the heart of the city they helped build. A coherent hate and bias policy was yet to be found, in the wake of such events as a Black Student Alliance poster defaced with the n-word, a noose found hanging on campus, and a homophobic threat against a queer Jewish student scrawled on the side of a residential building. To many, Duke was still “the plantation.” Knowing all of this, while I felt the planned protest was justified, I was simultaneously terrified. My sole consolation was that whatever happened would not happen to me alone. I locked arms with Trinity board of visitors member Bryce Cracknell ’18, and our group interrupted the afternoon’s fanfare. As one of us read the manifesto associated with our protest, several of the alumni in the room began to stir. At first it was a trickle of shouts: “Oh, come on!” “Get off the stage!” And then came the tempest. At the foot of the stage, alumni clamored, most (if not all) of them white. On the stage stood a handful of students, primarily Black or of color. From the crowd came shouts of “You don’t deserve Duke!” “Just be grateful you’re here!”



Once our manifesto was complete, we stepped off the stage and the alumni took the opportunity to get as close to us as possible as we processed out the room. I felt a compulsion to flee but stayed locked in place by the arms of my fellow protestors. Behind us echoed administrators’ apologies to the frustrated alumni. In that moment, I was reminded that the problem of racism is a problem of roots. It is just as much a question of what nourishes life as we know and understand it, as it is about what antagonizes so many people’s right to live. Racism is often spoken of as a barrier. Too infrequently is it addressed as something that enables and permits. Hearing those apologies to people who I am convinced were on the verge of spitting on me told me the side the university had chosen. At its core, regardless of the headway it had thought itself making on matters of race or general matters of equity, Duke was still content to settle the dust kicked up, rather than face what was unearthed.


t is with this memory that I read President

Price’s sequence of communications announcing Duke’s effort to become an anti-racist institution. With the announcements came a website extensively outlining the number of initiatives the university intends to enact toward its anti-racist vision. Headings for the various initiatives address such goals as “furthering excellence for our faculty,” “revisiting Duke’s institutional history,” and “engaging with and supporting our Durham and regional communities.” The website is thorough. Yet, I have to wonder: Has Duke University really reckoned with what racism means beyond a command of the vocabulary race scholarship has produced? Can a university like Duke, with its stronghold on the economic and political forces that define so many people’s access or lack thereof, truly make a claim to anti-racism? Would Duke be willing to face the truth that anti-racism is reckoning with the systems that make racism palpable and real, and give up power accordingly? Given what I have learned in my time as a student and as an alumnus, I am sobered by how racism has affected so many at Duke and in Durham. For all the thoughtfulness that seems to have gone into this declaration of a new “anti-racist” Duke, I am ambivalent about how much fruit this statement will bear. I speak of racism as a matter of roots because I also believe that the answer to racism requires uprooting. I believe this partially because of what I have witnessed at Duke, but also because of my own journey facing and understanding racism and other facets of oppression, both at and beyond Duke. In fact, much of this journey is intertwined with my matriculation at the university. What I was rooted to was called into question. I had to decide whether to yield to having certain


definitions about myself and the world change or be utterly undone.

When I first arrived at Duke, I was more absorbed

with the joy of being accepted than I was with most other emotions. To say I saw my new school through a rose-colored tint is an understatement. I grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Miami, far from the glitz of the shoreline. My acceptance to Duke was an exception to many of the rules of everyday life, and I came ready to prove myself worthy of the Blue Devil mantle. I quickly learned that one of Duke’s favorite pastimes is visiting the nightclub and bar Shooters II, just off East Campus. So, I went. As I nervously huddled outside the club, making sense of the heat in the air as droves of eager first-year students clamored to join the noise inside, I struck up a conversation with another young Black man in the line near me. Most of the conversation proceeded in a blur; I was mostly concerned with surviving the oncoming bustle as more and more students crowded the line to enter. Yet, eventually, I would learn that he was not a Duke student, but a native Durham resident. I was not from Durham, but a Duke student. Out of these facts came one of the most disturbing lessons I would ever learn. “We really call Duke a modern-day penitentiary,” he said matter-of-factly. “We say that when you’re born, Duke signs your birth certificate. When you work, Duke probably signs your paycheck. And when you die, Duke signs your death certificate.” The line continued to inch its way into the building. We would both make it into the club, only to lose each other quickly to the crowd. Still, those words never left me. I would eventually come to understand that, for all the excitement and accomplishment I felt in getting into Duke, my education was inextricably tethered to a history of subjugation and inequity in the city of Durham. Before I would even know Duke as “the plantation,” I had learned of it as “the penitentiary,” replete with bondage for many of the people who made both the city of Durham and Duke University possible. Just by virtue of attending a school that constantly rendered many residents of Durham feeling trapped, I was complicit in that foreclosure of access. This was my first explicit experience of the nature of systemic racism as it enables and shapes Duke. As I continued to experience Duke for myself, that conversation returned again and again to remind me that even if my presence as a Black student at Duke seemed to reverse some racial tide, it was minuscule compared to the systemic racism that was built into Duke’s presence in Durham. I had embraced Duke, but what I rooted my identity in had been, and would continue to be, questioned.

Has Duke University really reckoned with what racism means beyond a command of the vocabulary race scholarship has produced? I would come to understand through my time at Duke that I could not meaningfully reckon with racism at its root until I dealt with my identity as a participant in its function, even as someone oppressed by the very system. In this same way, I’ve witnessed Duke’s identity be questioned. Many of the protests, conversations, and demands issued in response to racism on Duke’s campus have revolved around wanting the university to face the truth of itself and respond accordingly. Months after that encounter outside Shooters, I entered the gauntlet of academic and personal growth that defines the transition to college. Some of it was joyous, while some of it was uncomfortable, but I was still determined to prove my worth. I cannot help but admit how much of that determination was based in the reflexive sense that I did not belong at Duke. That the occasion of my being on campus as a Black first-generation student from a working-class neighborhood was historically uncommon. Still, I made the best of it through friendships and frequent calls home.

Then, a noose was hung on campus. An image of the bright yellow cord, twisted into a sinister loop, circulated more and more widely until it reached the local and regional news circuit. I, stunned and disturbed, called my mother, and her immediate response was to offer me the chance to withdraw from Duke and apply for a local university in Miami. I insisted on staying. In the following days, students rightfully inquired about the university’s response. There were e-mails. There were statements. There were convenings on the quad. Eventually, the university released an anonymous open letter penned by the student who had hung the noose, in which the person claimed the noose as an inside joke among friends, gone horribly awry. The writer went on to deny knowing the racial trauma symbolized by a noose in the United States, no less the South, and promised to do reading and personal reflection so as to ensure full understanding. Issuing from the student’s claim of ignorance came the administration’s firmly DUKE MAGAZINE WINTER 2020


The anti-racist struggle is just as much a struggle to give up as it is to gain. planted stance: “This is not the Duke I know.” Yet, as a first-year, I noted the immediacy with which Black and other nonwhite students responded. It was muscle memory. To them, the noose was not an interruption, but a culmination of the history of race on and around Duke’s campus. Even if the student who had hung the noose claimed ignorance, which in turn allowed Duke to reassure us that the experienced bigotry coiled in a noose was a misfire of friendship, the response of Duke’s constituency suggested this was not so foreign to Duke’s identity. For administrators to say this was not the Duke they knew denied a great deal of institutional history. What would my brief companion in the Shooters line have to say about this Duke that this noose and the administration’s reflex gestured toward? As I understand racism to be structural oppression, an “anti-racist” ethic must also be a structural one. I don’t see it generative to treat “anti-racist” as a personal identifier that reverses a previous “racist” identity, because anti-racism can only be revealed through actions and commitments. In short, to dismantle racism is to sever ties with what endangers nonwhite people, and to make a commitment to what protects them. As I thought about this, I realized I should reach back to some of my peers and mentors to gain their thoughts on what this means for Duke in tangible terms. “I’m not sure if we have done a really thorough job in terms of coming to terms with us being a predominantly white institution,” says Li-Chen Chin, assistant vice president for intercultural programs in Student Affairs, who also teaches in the program in education. She specifically cites how Duke’s curriculum is shaped by an agenda that prioritizes white, Western histories. “When you talk about the history of the Americas, we can’t ignore the role of the Black diaspora and Native community. There really needs to be a fundamental shift in the curriculum.” While my personal experiences are primarily tied to my Blackness, my time in Durham, and my own experiences of racism, I know it’s vital to remember that the question of anti-racism is also a question of the land. Chin’s mention of the role of Indigenous people and anti-Indigenous racism in the forming of American society speaks to much of the work done by Indigenous people to name that. In fact, Duke, in its reckoning, must face the fact that it is based in the state 26

with the largest Indigenous population east of the Mississippi River. As I explore Duke’s history, I am reminded that anti-racism cannot be wed to the insistence on coexistence within our present way of living. Even I, as a Black person, would have to reckon with the question of taken land. Chin’s comments also reminded me that history, and the way it is told, is a function of power. Elizabeth Barahona ’18 is a former president of the Latinx student organization Mi Gente and a current history Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern. I talked to her about this question of history and how it shapes knowledge in the present. “Duke was made Duke University because of the donation made by the Duke family of $40 million,” she told me. “Because of that sort of donation, Duke has always positioned itself as not ever having slave money.” Instead, she says, Duke cites the tobacco money that lines its coffers in lieu of slave money. Yet, she points out a flaw in that logic. “Leslie Brown, [a] Durham historian, says that Black women who were rolling tobacco and processing it…were working in slave-like conditions. And we all know from the history of Reconstruction and the history of Jim Crow that slavery never ended. Slavery was transformed.” I know intimately the harm intrinsic to sharecropping. My mother’s expression still turns somber when we discuss Duke’s tobacco money, because her grandfather was a tobacco sharecropper. The exploitation of his financial, physical, and mental faculties left him worn and penniless. While he may not have worked the same plantations that fed Duke’s wealth, the irony of his life and Duke’s founding within the same industry relentlessly stretches across state borders. This history may feel distant, but I sense it is still present in Duke’s configuration today.


wo years after I graduated from Duke, I lived on Onslow Street, which cut through the heart of Walltown, a historically Black neighborhood near East Campus. As I commuted between my home and downtown Durham, I would often hear some variation of this phrasing as people

reflected on their hustle through morning traffic: “Durham sure has grown. Nobody used to want to live here, it was so bad.” Those comments would either come from a fellow transplant to Durham, or from a colleague at Duke, lauding the university for drawing business to the region. Each time, though, I was troubled because I grew up in a rapidly gentrifying Miami neighborhood like Walltown. Then and now, it felt as if the powers that be were all too eager to discard Black life when there was money to be made. It was lucrative. I will not deny that as a student and an employee, I benefit from Duke’s wealth. Yet this does not prevent me from noting that this wealth is both the result of and reason for much of the oppression Duke purports to combat. Any critique of racism necessarily becomes a critique of capitalist wealth. If nonwhite people are regularly dispossessed of access to health care, education, and housing with the usual concern being who can “afford” to provide these resources, then I am very interested in challenging the notion of wealth at its core. What is “wealth” that is not contingent on another’s lack or another’s endangerment? “In terms of an institution being fundamentally just, everything about its creation has to be considered,” says Chandra Guinn, director of Duke’s Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture. “To exist within a capitalist system means that there are some questions around morality and fairness that are probably not going to be answered in a positive light. Does Duke become Duke without [Julian] Carr’s contribution of the land?” (Two years ago, the university removed Carr’s name from the building that houses the history department; even as Carr was instrumental in the relocation from Randolph Country, he was an active proponent of white supremacy.) With this in mind, I reached out to Charmaine Royal, who heads up Duke’s Center for Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation. In our conversation, we discussed how Duke may see its anti-racist effort as making it an equal stakeholder in the decisions communities make to heal, when in actuality much of it might be Duke simply allowing communities to take the lead to name and resolve historical harms. “Unless we deal with the history, and see our role in what is, we won’t understand what we really need to do to change things,” Royal told me. “Maybe when we see what we’ve done, we’ll realize we do need to step out of the way…. I have my doubts about how deeply we want to get into that.” That “step out of the way” spoke to a core belief I found myself struggling with. It wasn’t until I returned to James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, which is included in Duke’s anti-racist and Black liberation reading list, that I found the language: …people find it very difficult to act on what they know. To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger. In this case, the danger, in the minds of most white Americans, is the loss of their identity.

The anti-racist struggle is just as much a struggle to give up as it is to gain. Duke must be willing to face the “danger” of its form and function being shifted and transformed. As I see it, “stepping out of the way” means Duke cannot center its own interests in the conversations and subsequent solutions. If the problem-solving efforts reproduce the same power dynamics that yielded the issue, then it is not a challenge to racism, but an attempt to placate.

As I write, my mind returns to the moment when I was

descending the steps of the stage in Page Auditorium, hearing fresh apologies from administrators to alumni that were in my face reminding me that a future alumnus did not deserve Duke. I remember realizing that even if Duke did not create what felt like violent racism, it did not immediately condemn it. I remember that Reunions Weekend is a bid for the ongoing favor of alumni—a push to keep Duke’s roots intact. I reached out to Bryce, who grounded me as we left Page, to ask his thoughts on Duke’s relationship with its alumni, and how that might affect anti-racist efforts. “If the purpose is to continue to get money from alumni, I don’t know that the university can make fundamentally different decisions,” he says. Still, he says, even in donorship there may be some assumptions worth investigating and deconstructing. “What alumni are we missing? Why are they not engaged or involved in broader Duke networks? What can you get from alumni other than dollars?” What Bryce illuminated for me is the question of imagination. While Bryce’s considerations home in on specific issues within Duke’s operations, I am especially excited by how they point to the possibilities for an education that is not tethered to the precariousness of Black, Indigenous, and nonwhite communities. This is about Duke no longer making justice fit into its current framework, and instead, allowing justice to define what new frameworks are necessary. For all the thoroughness in the intention of Duke’s anti-racism initiative, I haven’t seen a true and productive interrogation of Duke’s fundamentals in its past efforts. Duke has a number of ways to enact its anti-racist vision, but here is what I know: Race and racism have always been a matter of roots. I cannot remain satisfied with the pruning of branches. Ivory Jr. ’18 studied political science and minored in French. He is a Miami native who continues to carry the city with him and is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in creative writing at North Carolina State University. DUKE MAGAZINE WINTER 2020


Steven Heritage

SEARCH: Duke Lemur Center researcher Steven Heritage and Djiboutian ecologists Houssein Rayaleh, right, and Djama Awaleh set sengi traps on a rocky hillside.



MAYBE THIRTY FEET from the campsite something rattled in a trap. It was nearest Galen Rathbun’s sleeping bag, and it wrecked the veteran ecologist’s sleep. “God, that animal has been keeping me up all night long,” the California Academy of Sciences’ Rathbun told Duke’s Steven Heritage a few hours later, when the scientists woke up early enough to beat the fierce Djiboutian sun. The two exchanged a meaningful look, and while they were discussing how to proceed, Rathbun picked up the trap and peeked in. That was early February 2019 and Heritage’s second morning in Djibouti. The day before, the Duke Lemur Center researcher had touched down in the Horn of Africa jet-lagged and tired from a long flight. Djibouti City— the capital and only city—isn’t big, and the nation itself is about the size of North Carolina’s Triangle region. Heritage spent a night in a hotel, with its comfy bed and running water, and hit the grocery store the next morning to stock up on fruit and nuts and food that would keep for weeks at a time, in a Land Cruiser, in 110-degree heat. And then Heritage, Rathbun, and Djiboutian colleagues Houssein Rayaleh and Djama Awaleh left Djibouti City for a rocky wilderness called Djalelo, all on the gamble of finding a minuscule creature researchers knew precious little about. No specimens had been taken in five decades.




Though also known as a species of elephant shrew, the Somali sengi is neither. It’s about the size of a mouse, but only superficially similar (humans are more closely related to mice than sengis are, in fact). It’s insectivorous, with a long snout and gazelle-like hind legs. Sengis mate for life, and their offspring can sprint within an hour of birth. The sengi itself is an ancient endemic African mammal, its lineage predating even the charismatic “big game” African mammals. Heritage sounds al-

Houssein Rayaleh

most proud as he describes HANDFUL: Heritage its roots, which he has holds a Somali sengi. studied extensively. Not “They don’t bite,” he only is Heritage a sengi says. “It’s nice.” specialist, but he works at the Division of Fossil Primates, a department of the Duke Lemur Center focused on the mammalian fossil record. If it happened after dinosaurs but before now, its remains are studied here, by Heritage, curator Matt Borths, and their colleagues. The division houses remains of entire extinct genera the layperson has no reason to have heard of, as well as the ancestors of modern creatures like lemurs and, yes, sengis. Among sengis, Somali sengis were especially data-deficient, with fewer than forty specimens in 30

“There have been three or four previous small mammal expeditions to Djibouti, and none of them had produced any sengis.” collections, as of early 2019. Some of these were “pickles”—specimens preserved in formaldehyde— and many more dated from the late 1800s and early 1900s. “And they’re just scrappy,” says Heritage. “Here’s a skull and, like, part of the skin of the animal.” Needless to say, there were no photos or DNA samples. None of this indicated that the Somali sengi was rare, but understudied. Decades of instability in Somalia made biological expeditions to that country unsafe, leaving a possibly common animal off-limits to the wider scientific community—even if Somalians saw them regularly. And this brings up a question of perspective that was historically absent in Western scientific literature: “The first sengi that ever got brought back to Europe in the 1800s from Somalia, even that wasn’t a discovery,” says Heritage. “The people that lived in Somalia already knew that sengis were there before the Europeans showed up.” Since Somalia borders Djibouti, Heritage had the idea of a collaborative American and Djiboutian expedition. A mutual friend at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History connected Heritage and Rayaleh in 2017, and soon the two were planning a small mammal survey. Djibouti is a biodiverse region, Rayaleh says, and its terrestrial and marine biomes range from under-

From the international scientific community’s perspective, however, there remained no guarantee that the sengi species in Djibouti was the Somali sengi. “You can imagine that if the IUCN [International Union for Conservation of Nature] has no records of any of that taxonomic order from that country, it’s really kind of a risk to go there,” Heritage says. “There have been three or four previous small mammal expeditions to Djibouti, and none of them had produced any sengis.”

explored to unexplored. For one, CUTE: Neither elephant nor there are few Djiboutians working in biology or conservation: shrew: the Somali sengi The nation’s university, he says, is all of ten years old, and its faculty tend toward law and the humanities rather than science. “It seems I am the only crazy man who runs the countryside to see birds, mammals, reptiles, plants, and so on,” Rayaleh says. Educated in France and Djibouti, Rayaleh started his “nomad city boy in the countryside” career teaching elementary school in remote villages, eventually moving into school administration and biological research. By the end of the ‘90s, he was organizing and coordinating expeditions studying different taxa— birds, reptiles, mammals, insects—and birdwatching tours. Having spent decades in rural and wild Djibouti, Rayaleh knew what lived there. “The only thing I did not know was the taxonomy of the sengi in Djibouti,” he says matter-of-factly. “As a long-lasting naturalist in Djibouti, I encountered it many times.” Based on interviews with locals and his own experience, Rayaleh selected Djalelo as the first field site, confident the team would find sengis. He chuckles as he thinks back to his American colleagues’ impression that these creatures would be difficult to find.


Steven Heritage

t was late afternoon by the time the team reached Djalelo Wildlife Protected Area. Like much of Djibouti, Djalelo is made up of rocky basalt hillsides, many at fifteen to thirty-degree grades. Heritage tore holes in his boots trekking across rocks and acacia thorns, though his Djiboutian colleagues happily walked around the campsite barefoot. The team scoped the Djalelo landscape, checking for scat and paying attention to how rodents like gerbils, mice, and gundis moved through the terrain. Elsewhere, in Namibia and South Africa, sengi species live in sparse woodlands or flat gravel plains— nothing like this. Finding sengis, then, held its own set of challenges on these rock-strewn hillsides. Traps get lost or—in one instance this expedition— smashed by baboons. In Djibouti, all sengis are called wali sandheer: wali for “small scurrying mammal” and sandheer for “long nose.” Photos existed of some kind of sengi at Djalelo—including one that was sent to the team days before the expedition—but it could have been another known sengi species or even an undescribed one. The team picked a spot on the horizon. Then the four walked ten paces in that direction, put down a trap, moved ten paces, and set another. It went like this: Lay the trap against a rock or under a bush. Bait the trap with a mix of oatmeal, peanut butter, DUKE MAGAZINE WINTER 2020


and marmite. Tie yellow flagging tape around a nearby rock. Take GPS coordinates. Move on. When it’s time to turn back, walk ten paces to one side and return to the starting point, ten paces at a time. Working together, Rathbun, Rayaleh, Awaleh, and an already sunburned Heritage laid 100 traps each day. At times, Rathbun was in pain, Rayaleh recalls, but insisted on pushing forward.


ate the first night at Djalelo or early, early that morning, Rathbun heard something trip the nearest trap. Again—he woke at dawn, groused to Heritage that it had kept him up all night, and picked up the offending trap. “It’s a sengi,” he said. “No way,” Heritage replied. “See? I told you,” Rayaleh said. “They’re all over the place here.” Rathbun noted its tufted tail at first glance, and Heritage checked its incisors. From these indicators, the team was all but certain it had a Somali sengi. Science is a patient discipline, and it would take further analysis to say for sure, but that didn’t stop a


sense of excitement that now, finally, missing data could be gathered—things like the Somali sengi’s habitat and diet and distribution. “I can’t believe it,” Rathbun said. “I’ve never seen one before.” Not long after Rathbun and Heritage returned to the States, the first DNA analysis came in, which indicated at the very least that this sengi belonged in its own genus. Heritage and Rathbun put off saying with certainty that it was a Somali sengi until the data were more complete, and Rathbun’s sentiment was that he’d be happy to be surprised. Yet a few weeks after returning to California, he became ill with metastatic melanoma, and died in April 2019. Rathbun was easy to work with, says Heritage, a scientist to whom fieldwork came naturally and who made expeditions fun, razzing colleagues and even “playing chicken” with a camel at one point during the Djibouti trip. Heritage is in contact with his widow, Lynn Dorsey Rathbun, who has told him that bringing this missing species back FIELDWORK: into the realm of science was the Rayaleh, perfect end to Rathbun’s life’s work. standing, and Indeed, when the Somali sengi was Awaleh with a reclassified into a new genus, it was sengi trap named Galegeeska: Gale- for Galen;

Photography by Steven Heritage unless noted

“I would never characterize our expedition as a discovery or a rediscovery, because that’s not how I feel about it. Obviously, this animal was still there. We didn’t really discover anything. The people that live there knew that there was some kind of sengi there.”

geeska for the Horn of Africa. This expedition was a win for Djibouti, too, Rayaleh says. Djiboutians don’t tend to know the true taxonomy or conservation status of the species around them, for one, and as a result of his team’s fieldwork, one long-“missing” creature is returning to the scientific community. A former French colony, Djibouti has only been independent since 1977 (Rayaleh was seventeen), and historically it’s been negatively stereotyped or useful only to world powers as military barracks and bases, he says. Yet this discovery highlights biodiversity in Rayaleh’s homeland, where he hopes a new generation will answer the call of ecology and conservation. “Natural history research in Djibouti is an important step in my country’s renaissance,” Rayaleh says. And then there’s widespread media coverage. The Somali sengi is a furball with big eyes, round ears, a tufted tail, and a funky little trunk. It’s cute. People tweet about it, Rayaleh says. They draw cartoons of it. It’s a positive, scientific story about Djibouti, which has been a long time coming. Since the Djalelo expedition, he has traveled to Durham and met with Duke Lemur Center director Greg Dye, Division of Fossil Primates curator Borths, and—of course—Heritage. Rayaleh’s next step is discussing the future of Djiboutian fieldwork with the Duke Lemur Center, Smithsonian, and other American institutions. “I am not young, and we need FRIENDS: A the young generation to continSomali sengi ue the same thing I am doing nestles on Galen now,” he says. Rathbun’s vest. In that moment, in February 2019, Rathbun, Heritage, Rayaleh, and Awaleh had in their trap what would turn out to be the Somali sengi, which had not been documented in the wild in more than five decades. They could only celebrate for so long, because there were ninety-nine traps still out on the hillside, and these needed checking before the fierce Djalelo sun hit their aluminum frames. (“Then you’re baking animals. And that’s not cool,” says Heritage). So, the team put the first trap in the shade of the Land Cruiser, found the preselected spot on the horizon, walked ten paces to the next trap, and peeked inside. n




The man with the plans

With a Duke career extending across three presidencies, Tallman Trask has played a key role in remaking the university and its surrounding community. BY ROBERT J. BLIWISE • PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS HILDRETH


hen, back in 1995, Tallman Trask III was emerging as the likely choice as Duke’s executive vice president, law professor James Cox was chairing the search committee. He did what search-committee chairs typically do: He called an administrator at the University of Washington, where Trask was then working, to check him out. The conversation didn’t start on a typical note. “There was a pause. Then all of a sudden, there was this sigh,” Cox recalls. A long sigh. And a personal observation: “He plants flowers.” Where is this conversation going? Cox wondered. But the administrator went on: “One of the first things I noticed when Tallman came on board is how beautiful the campus suddenly became. He planted flowers. Over his tenure here, I just realized, God put us on the world for some special purpose. And Tallman was put on this planet to make universities better.” Cox makes a sweeping gesture to take in his lawschool surroundings. Construction that, over the

years, has overtaken the school’s original featureless façade of red brick. Just out of view, a glass-enclosed oasis for eating and conversation. A stand of trees that’s been preserved through all the physical growth. “When I look out my window now, the scene is a lot more beautiful than it was before Tallman came.” Trask retires at the end of the calendar year, a halfyear later than originally anticipated. Vincent E. Price, the third Duke president Trask has worked for, says it became clear that the timing of the transition had to be adjusted: “When the pandemic hit, we had the benefit of an experienced executive-leadership team to navigate the university through unchartered waters. It was important to keep that team together.” Duke is looking to its centennial in 2024. And it’s striking, says Price, that Trask has been a major presence at Duke—really a major shaper of Duke, and not without controversy—for a quarter of that time. It’s quite a portfolio: finances, campus planning, real estate, human resources, information technology, stores, maintenance and construction, safety and security, parking and transportation.

CURTAIN CALL: Trask in Baldwin Auditorium, whose 2013 renovation he oversaw. “I wanted Baldwin to be a Duke building, which is why the interior is blue and white. I also wanted to overwhelm the N.C. State-red seats in DPAC, which I intensely dislike,” he says.



More than being a builder, Trask had “a strategic sense of the campus” and saw “the importance of Duke as a cohesive and coordinated architectural entity.” Trask's office is a museum of memorabilia documenting the evolution of Duke's campus. The following objects are just a few examples in the collection, some of which will be moved into Duke's archives for permanent safe-keeping:

These soda bottles, dating from the 1920s, were found during the excavation for the new Baldwin mechanical room— apparently thrown off the original construction site by workers.

His manner can seem gruff, but it can also seem refreshingly direct. In any case, it’s brought results, right from the beginning. He talks about how Student Affairs was initially in his area. “The argument made to me was, ‘Well, students are in the dorms, the dorms are buildings, and that’s what you do.’ Well, that’s just weird.” So a trade ensued. Student Affairs went to the provost, the academic side of the campus. Information technology had been in the domain of the provost. That was weird, too, he argued. It became part of his portfolio. One of the first things you notice as you walk into Trask’s office, on the second floor of the Allen Building, is a message, taped to the door, from a Panda Express fortune cookie: “You are a charmer.” On his desk he has a big red button; when you hit it, a mechanical voice calls out, “No!” His longtime assistant, Nancy Metzloff, has a corresponding big green button: “Yes!” Now and again, they engage in a cacophonous back-and-forth. If Trask doesn’t feel he needs to be a conventional charmer, he’s happy to express his own sense of style. Beyond the pocket squares with matching socks, there are the madras jackets, the rainbow-colored Nike sneakers. ”My sartorial sense is purely Pasadena,” says the native Californian. “I’ve dressed that way more or less since I was in high school.” His office shelves are packed with books on design and architecture. Some showcase star architects like Frank Gehry and Cesar Pelli; there are also Trees and Shrubs; The Stones of Naples; The Campus as a Work of Art; Scandinavian Design; American Gargoyles. (There are also nods to more mundane aspects of campus planning, like The High Cost of Free Parking.) On his desk, you can spot a standard computer and a not-so-standard screensaver. It rotates between the image of a 1973 Porsche, the very first Trask-owned Porsche, and Porsche portrayals


through the years—an attachment inherited from Trask’s sports-car-driving father. Trask arrived at Duke three years into the presidency of Nannerl O. Keohane. Cox recalls it as “the search from hell”; it stretched over two years. For his part, Trask says, “If you would have asked me six months before I decided to move to Duke, ‘What are the odds you would move to North Carolina?’ I would have said, ‘Can odds be less than zero?’ It just wasn’t on my radar.” But the University of Washington soon was in the midst of a messy presidential transition. So he adjusted his expectations. Having graduated from Occidental College, Trask had earned an M.B.A. from Northwestern and finished a Ph.D. at the University of California, Los Angeles. His doctoral dissertation was “Student Perceptions of College Administrations.” It’s filled with data sets, mathematical modeling, and statistics-driven concepts like “correlational matrixes.” He applied all those tools in exploring university culture. Universities with top-down governance, he found, tend to rate lower on “institutional quality measures.” He pondered a cause-and-effect quandary: “Does the low-quality factor induce an environment which can be operated only with a firm hand, or do more restrictive administrative styles hold back the academic development of the institution?” Keohane had a firm sense of her own administrative style, but at the time she recruited Trask, she was still building a team of top administrators. She found in Trask someone who understood higher education from his own experience, and from having studied it. “I figured that he would be the kind of executive vice president who would fit well with the academic side— would fully understand it, but not try to manage it. And that’s exactly what happened.” Trask had been in charge of academic and ad-

ministrative computing at UCLA, as vice chancellor for academic administration, when he was in his mid-thirties. Duke’s IT past and present are wrapped together in another of his office displays. It’s a bundle of data-carrying wires recovered in the midst of a library renovation; those wires would have carried data under protocols now considered exceedingly slow (kilobits per second, not the current gigabits per second). He says, “We got it right, and we got it right early. Unlike other places, we didn’t have eight-figure failures in the process. Now we’ve got the infrastructure everybody else wishes they had. And we run it across the entire enterprise, including the School of Medicine and the three hospitals, which nobody else does.” Part of what energizes Trask, says President Price, is the chance to build systems—from information technology to payroll. “I think he finds them as interesting and challenging to envision and construct as a new building would be to envision and construct. It’s satisfying for him to contemplate a building when it’s up and running. He gets the same satisfaction from an administrative system when it’s up and running.” Trask’s role of overseeing finances has coincided with economic upswings and downturns—none

more dramatic than the pandemic. Duke announced a series of cost-saving measures: expenditures above $2,500 requiring approval from the top of the hierarchy; a hiring freeze except for positions deemed essential; no salary increases for all those earning more than $50,000; no university-paid retirement contributions for a year; temporary salary reductions for highly paid staff; a pause in new construction projects. To Trask, this all feels different from the earlier moment of financial stress, which came with the Great Recession in 2008-09. Back then, the most worrisome hit applied to the endowment. But endowment performance over a single year or so wasn’t bound to affect university spending levels all that much: The payout policy takes into account the returns over several years, and so is designed to smooth the effect of market fluctuations. It was just a matter of waiting out the markets as they recovered. Now, though, the revenue hits persist, with no clear endpoint for losses in dining, housing, stores, parking, and elsewhere. In the end, Duke “will have to be a little bit smaller,” Trask says. “But 99 percent of colleges ENGINEERING: The work of ZGF, part of Trask’s architectural brain trust

Each day, pre-iPhone, longtime assistant Nancy Metzloff typed a schedule notecard for Trask which he carried in his breast pocket. He saved them. This stack is only a fraction of the stash.



Before the chapel’s renovation, a part of the ceiling fell—fortunately, when it was empty. This piece, found during inspection, was just barely still attached.

This marker was made by Charles B. Wade Jr. from a Duke Chapel pew salvaged from the 1971 fire there.

and universities would be happy to have Duke’s problems. Their problems are a lot worse.” A pandemic hardly figured in the scenarios imagined for higher education. But Duke’s president during the Great Recession, Richard H. Brodhead, says Trask at the time “saw what was coming, if not necessarily on the scale it would take. Because of that, we weren’t as far out over our skis as some universities were. Tallman took the message that there were reasons for caution.” At the same time, Brodhead, Trask, provost Peter Lange, and the rest of the leadership resolved not to put an absolute stop to faculty hiring. The idea, Brodhead says, was to avoid Duke’s sinking into “an intellectual ice age.” Duke, then, put itself in the position of attracting faculty talent when virtually no one else was hiring. Lange, who was provost from 1999 until 2014, says that period of financial stress highlighted Trask’s buying into the spirit—not necessarily commonplace in higher education—of “collegiality and mutual trust.” Early in his provostship, he recalls, Trask talked about his job as delivering the maximum resources to the academic sector, consistent with his fiduciary responsibilities. “I don’t know how many executive vice presidents think that, much less being willing to say that,” Lange adds. “It’s so important.” That was important for Keohane as well; in her view, one priority for the position was building trust with the faculty over financial decisions. “I wanted an EVP who would be respected enough by the faculty to be listened to, and, equally important, who would be ready to open the books. And that’s basically what Tallman said: ‘Look, whatever you want to find out, come and I’ll show you. It’s all open.’ ” From the faculty perspective, Cox agrees that the atmosphere changed. In the early 2000s, he led a faculty advisory committee on university priorities. “There were concerns at the time about the budget for athletics, about how that impacted the rest of the university. I walked in to tell Tallman about those concerns. He said, ‘I’ve been


expecting you. Here are the financial statements for the past three years.’ He knew he could trust us. And we certainly trusted him. He was always straight with us.” During Keohane’s administration and beyond, it wasn’t just the atmosphere that changed; so, too, did the physical campus. Trask had “so many opportunities to build new buildings or to renovate old buildings,” Keohane says. “That was a period at Duke when there was a lot to be done.” More than being a builder, Trask had “a strategic sense of the campus,” as Keohane puts it. She had had little exposure to the campus before being interviewed for the Duke presidency; her first impression was that the layout was confusing. “I was thinking, why is the campus arranged this way? And, of course, it was just that it had grown up that way. Tallman immediately saw the importance of Duke as a cohesive and coordinated architectural entity.” NEW AMID THE OLD: In Trask’s view, the buildings clustered around the quad established a pattern worth preserving.

Lange, the longtime provost, says the eventual campus plan meshed aesthetic and educational interests. “Duke isn’t land-poor, so there was the temptation to keep spreading the campus footprint wider and wider. But Tallman had a different architectural vision. And it fit perfectly with the strategic vision on my part. That is, we were going to be more interdisciplinary, and we needed to get faculty members working together in close proximity.” A new engineering building, for example, would go up in a former parking lot—“infilling,” as Lange describes it, in a way that promoted both the sense of a unified campus and the capacity to collaborate. Keohane’s successor as pres-

Duke. The founding visionary, Trask notes in the foreword, spent not just a considerable fortune but also a lot of time on the original plans, “worrying about everything from architectural detail and landscaping to whether there should be ‘less of the yellow and gold color’ in the stone mix.” To Trask, the university’s history is something not just to understand but also to preserve and to project into the present day. He keeps elements of that history within reach. Price, the president, describes him as “a collector of experiences and historical moments”; he notes that Trask was an undergraduate history major and thought about studying history as a graduate student. An office visitor will notice a brick from the

These cables went through the quad, underneath what became the Bostock bridge.

“We got it right, and we got it right early.” ident, Brodhead, says, “There may be executive vice presidents who are three-quarters as smart as Tallman. But I don’t know of one who has his comprehensive interest in all aspects of a university, particularly its architecture.” “When I got here, I invited a group of about ten really serious architects to come just hang out for a week,” Trask recalls. “I would walk around with them and say, ‘What do you think? What would you do here? It was a really interesting experience. We ended up hiring about half of them.” A family trip from his childhood days had sparked Trask’s attachment to buildings. It was to visit Sea Ranch, along the northern California coast, which is a showpiece of modernist architecture and environmentally conscious landscape design. In his foreword to Duke University: The Campus Guide, published a few years ago, a theme is “place signifies.” He writes: “While at the outset many Northerners argued that the South could never spawn a truly great university, today others suggest that Duke in fact became a great university in part because it looked like one from the start (including artificially worn stair treads).” Clearly Trask sees a model of sorts in J.B.

original Trinity College campus in Trinity, North Carolina. Nearby is an ornament made from a white oak on campus that tumbled after some eighty years. Then there’s a slab that Trask describes as “the next piece that was going to fall out of the ceiling of the chapel”—the original chapel, that is, pre-renovation. A (Gothic) stone’s throw from the chapel, a projected wing of the divinity school, unveiled in 2005, had been labeled a “sensitive site” by the board of trustees, says Greg Jones M.Div. ’85, Ph.D. ‘88, dean (then and now) of the divinity school. Among the challenges: The “Duke Stone,” captured from the university-owned quarry, needed to be hand-chiseled and blended for the right color effect. “We did an interesting extra exercise with three groups of stone masons building ‘mock walls’ to be sure that the Duke Stone facing Duke Chapel would match well with the style of Duke Chapel,” says Jones. To be faithful to the Gothic inspiration, workers crafted other features out of limestone—complex arches, buttresses, rose windows. “The finials on the top of the building required molds and 280 personhours per finial to be sure they matched the

An original brick, more than a century old, from the Trinity College campus in Randolph County



SEAMLESS: Trask refers to the Westbrook Building, which connects with the original divinity school, as “the most expensive wall ever built.” But the result is magnificent, and true to the original architectural vision.

original ones on the walkway between the Gray Building and Duke Chapel,” Jones says. “Tallman paid great attention to those sorts of details, and the building is more beautiful as a result.” Baldwin Auditorium, renovated in 2013, is one of Trask’s favorites—“a lot of bang for the buck,” in his words. It’s commemorated in his office by a couple of soda bottles, evidently discarded by the auditorium’s original construction crew and recovered during the renovation. “It was, like, the worst space on campus,” he says. “Now it’s this magical space.”


Baldwin is a testimonial to Trask’s power of persuasion: He was determined to land Norman Pfeiffer as the architect; Pfeiffer, with whom Trask had worked back in Washington, had experience in historic renovation (Stanford’s Memorial Church, L.A.’s Griffith Park Observatory), along with a record of designing performing-arts centers in Washington, Colorado, California, Oregon, and at Notre Dame. Pfeiffer at first refused—he was too busy. But Trask wore him down, and he eventually agreed to the Duke project. Even with his architect of choice on the job,

“There may be executive vice presidents who are threequarters as smart as Tallman. But I don’t know of one who has his comprehensive

interest in all aspects of a university, particularly its architecture.”

Trask delved into some of the details, notably selecting the materials for the seats: “I knew that would make the room. And I wanted it done in a particular way.” A bigger project, finished in 2016, was reimagining the original West Union (now the Brodhead Center) to accommodate a complex dining program, complete with dining balconies, lounges, and meeting rooms. Trask says a big challenge was inviting light into the neo-Gothic hulk: “The only way to make that happen was to blow up the back of the building and rebuild it out

of glass.” While it’s not an iconic Duke building in its shape or materials, it pays homage to its heritage through features like the color pattern: The glass curtain walls, along with the terra cotta wings, acknowledge the blacks and tans in the stones that formed the original building. There the architect was the British-based Grimshaw, which had done little work in the U.S. Among all the items displayed in his office, one of Trask’s favorites is an award from the Royal Institute of British Architects. The institute singled out the Brodhead Center as the best building designed by a British architect and built outside Britain. But the process for something so complex wasn’t without its bumps. In conversations with the architect, “I tried to explain to them the vision we had, what we were trying to do,” Trask recalls. “They came back with a design. I remember calling up their principal and saying, ‘I’ve looked at your design. The trustees have looked

The Royal Institute of British Architects awarded the Brodhead Center’s design firm, Grimshaw Architects, the 2017 Retrofit Award, which recognizes the best Britishdesigned building built outside Britain.



at your design. We all hate it. So here’s the deal. You’ve got sixty days to come back with something that we don’t hate, or else we’re going to hire somebody else.’ “And they responded. They responded with what I think is a very interesting project.” As a campus planner, Trask talks about “establishing a pattern” and “not just doing one-offs.” The main quad “was built as one thing between 1928 and 1932,” he says. “There’s nothing else like it in America. And it’s actually worth preserving and recognizing. “But after World War II, Duke came to the view that nobody knew how to design and build buildings like this anymore. And so, they would have to do something different. To them, different was, ‘Well, we have red-brick buildings on East Campus. Why don’t we build red-brick buildings? And if we leave enough trees between them and the real campus, nobody will know the difference. That’s where Science Drive came from. You have this street with an accumulation of red-brick buildings that look like Midwestern high schools, plopped down because they were quick, utilitarian, and cheap.” A Trask task, then, was to figure out how to make “Duke-like” buildings. (He says, wryly, that Duke benefits from not having a school of architecture, which would inevitably apply pressure to build with celebrity architects; he compares one building at a peer campus, the product of a so-called “starchitect,” to the movie set for The Cat in the Hat.) “It’s really a few simple things. I mean, it’s scale: They’re largely vertical, not horizontal. They have towers. You can’t say, ‘Well, let’s make them all alike.’ But you can try to have some commonality.” One expression of commonality is so-called Duke Brick, which, from a few hundred yards away, gives the visual impression of stone. Duke Brick comes in various formulations, which shift from building project to building project—for example, the “Five-Color Brick Blend,” found on the Wilson Recreation Center and consisting of “Brown Tweed,” “Cimarron,” “Brown Irontone,” “Light Autumn,” and “Driftwood Modular Blended Brick,” all in prescribed percentages. Even as he was building out Duke’s core campus, Trask was extending Duke into the Durham community. For President Price, that part of his legacy points to Trask’s effectiveness as a skilled deal-maker: “Tallman has the ability to bring lots 42

As part of Duke's investment in Durham's downtown, Trask made it a priority to negotiate a home for American Dance Festival performances in DPAC.

of different parties to the table and to get results.” Bill Bell can speak to those results; he was elected mayor of Durham in 2001, and was re-elected seven more times. Bell credits Trask in particular for spurring the university’s investment in the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC), opened in 2008. The city lacked the funds to proceed with what would become a gleaming symbol of, and a major force for, Durham’s resurgence. Duke, with Trask as lead negotiator, ended up contributing about $7.5 million to the $48 million project. In exchange, the city agreed that one component would be performances by the American Dance Festival. For decades, the ADF, for its summer season, had based itself at Duke— which itself lacked dance-friendly performance space. Trask realized that a stage suitable for a Broadway production is big enough for dance; the ADF dedicated its 2010 season to him. Bell also points to an adjoining and earliSTAGE: Duke er project, the American contributed more Tobacco campus, redevelthan $7 million to the launch of the oped in 2004. Once a cigDurham Performing arette-manufacturing hub, Arts Center. it became a sprawling sign of downtown decay. “In the 1970s, ’80s, and early ’90s, once-thriving businesses in Durham just walked out,” Trask says. “And back in the 1890s and early twentieth century, industrialists in Durham had gotten themselves into an architecture contest—‘My warehouse is better than your warehouse.’ So what was left was a million square feet of really interesting abandoned buildings.” American Tobacco was the brainchild of Jim Goodmon, now CEO and board chair for Capitol Broadcasting Company. (He was a Duke student in the early 1960s before leaving to join the Navy.) Goodmon had taken ownership of the Durham Bulls and looked to a new, city-built stadium, right next to American Tobacco, as a

“As we worked more and more, the vision got larger and better, and Tallman was a big part of that.” REVIVAL: The American Tobacco campus benefited from Trask’s ideas and Duke’s own office-space needs.

springboard for Durham development. “As we worked more and more, the vision got larger and better, and Tallman was a big part of that,” Goodmon says. “If you ask him what he thinks, he’ll sure tell you. But he never had the attitude, ‘I’m your largest tenant, and I’m going to tell you what I want you to do.’ Instead, it was, ‘I’ve got some ideas, or I know some good architects, or let me help you contact some possible tenants. He has lots of contacts.” “American Tobacco opened up everybody’s eyes,” Goodmon says. “It changed attitudes about what’s possible in Durham. It changed

Durham’s attitudes about itself.” Duke sometimes has had a rough ride in the Durham community. A reminder of that came in the spring of 2019, when the long-discussed Durham-Orange County Light Rail project went off the rails. The local alternative weekly, along with several local leaders, accused the university of acting in bad faith by encouraging the planning process and then precipitously withdrawing its support. Trask was singled out as the bad guy. Trask describes himself as a mass-transit proponent. But that project “was flawed in so many ways,” he says. One issue was possible electromagnetic interference with sensitive medical equipment along a portion of the proposed route, next to Duke’s medical center. Another was a design process that kept getting more and more expensive. Originally the state was expected to kick in 25 percent of the overall cost; eventually, the figure was closer to 7 percent. A single change in the proposed route, which involved tunneling and elevating a portion of the line in downtown Durham, would have required another $8 million. According to Trask, Duke’s objections were clear from the outset, and though various partners pledged to resolve them, the problems remained year after year. The university’s ultimate stance should have been no surprise, he says. “There’s a lot of revisionist history. But there were plenty of problems in the planning that remained problems two decades later.” Trask’s colleague around Duke’s expanded footprint in Durham is Scott Selig M.B.A. ’92, associate vice president for capital assets and real estate. Selig had worked for Trask at the University of Washington, where he had negotiated the purchases of warehouse properties for a new branch campus in Tacoma. Duke, DUKE MAGAZINE WINTER 2020


These chips came off the East Campus graffiti bridge while it was being power-washed in anticipation of the next class effort.

including its health system, now occupies more than 4 million square feet of space off campus, including about 1.2 million square feet in downtown Durham. Since their time in Washington, Trask and Selig’s approach has been refined: In Durham, Duke leases all of its commercial space. Universities, which are tax-exempt, typically buy nearby properties, a good deal for a space-constrained campus but complicated for the community. Duke’s leasing rather than buying means that those buildings are generating tax revenue. Duke also serves as a redevelopment catalyst: With Duke as a lead tenant, the developer can borrow more money

President Price recalls Trask referring to his time as an Eagle Scout. Trask, in Price’s words, “has been wedded to those renowned Eagle Scout virtues,” service to the community among them. Because of his commitment to community-building, Trask had difficulty enduring a time of particularly sharp public criticism. Before a home football game in 2014, he got into a disagreement with a parking attendant about access to a road. During the dispute, the attendant claimed, Trask struck her with his car and, after tempers grew heated, used a racial slur. When student protesters occupied the Allen Building for a week in 2016, after The Chronicle had reported the allegations,

“Really he’s a pussycat, though if you ask him

what he thinks, he’ll sure tell you.”

During basketball season, celebratory bonfires would move around campus randomly and dangerously, until one site was officially marked with a plaque installed on the upper quad. This model of the plaque sits on Trask's shelf—a token reference to a nowsafer Duke tradition.

from banks (which are reassured by the university’s credit-worthiness), and so those developers can think more expansively. “For any development to work, it takes three things,” says Selig. “Vision, guts, and money. Most people have two of those three. They’ll have the vision and the guts, but they don’t have any money. Or they’ll have the vision and the money, but they can’t pull the trigger.” With Duke resources behind him, “Tallman has all three.” Pre-pandemic, Duke had about 4,000 employees downtown. As for the economic impact: “Four thousand people from Duke, if they go to lunch once a week, means 800 people going to lunch every single day—forty restaurants with an additional twenty paying customers.” That was then. And looking ahead? Selig imagines that Durham office space will continue to be in demand, but that in many cases, it will be reconfigured: Maybe there will be fewer office workers at any given time, but those workers will want spaces that don’t feel crowded. His work in spurring the growth of Durham, his colleagues say, highlights one side of Trask: his interest in the various measures of social equity.


their workplace-related demands included Trask’s termination. Trask denied using the slur and said he did not intentionally hit the attendant. He did write to her, saying he should have been more patient and apologizing for the incident. Today Trask doesn’t want to dwell on that episode. But he calls himself a left-of-center Democrat with a longstanding commitment to progressive values. He recalls his mother interrupting a study session and handing him, when he was a high-school student, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” a work he has returned to several times over the years. In college he protested against the Vietnam War. While in business school, he was stirred again into protest by the National Guard shootings at Kent State. He led his classmates in a walkout that extended through the last few weeks of the spring semester. Such personal details resonate for Myrna Adams, who came to Duke just as Trask was starting, in the summer of 1995, as Duke’s first vice president for institutional equity. She calls Trask an affirmative-action leader at heart, and says she looked to him to support her work in diversifying the administration. Trask ran searches

that brought persons of color to prominent positions, Adams says, and he hired the first Black architect to design for Duke (the late Durhambased Philip Freelon, who inaugurated Duke Brick) since Julian Abele, who shaped the fledgling university. And she says Trask went to bat for employees at the lowest salary levels, notably pushing to raise the minimum wage on campus. More recently, Trask has helped lead the push for Duke to become carbon-neutral. (The original Campus Sustainability Committee, from 2007, was co-chaired by Trask and the dean of the Nicholas School.) The target year, 2024, is the university’s centennial year. In Trask’s view, that short time frame is a big challenge: It involves not just institutional gestures, but also individual decisions around driving to and from campus. A decade ago, Duke ended the use of coal in its steam plant; at the time, coal was still the largest energy source in the state. Just this past summer, Duke announced that it would purchase 101 megawatts of solar capacity from three new solar facilities planned for North Carolina—a step

long sought by the university and that finally became possible, according to Trask, with a change in North Carolina’s regulatory environment. The energy innovation, the campus planning, the downtown footprint, the IT overhaul—it’s a long record of working to fuel the university’s ambitions. “I had this conversation with Nan Keohane after I’d been here a couple of years,” Trask recalls. “Duke was unsure of itself. It was insecure. It was this Southern place that was trying to be something else. There were these T-shirts that said, ‘Duke: the Harvard of the South.’ And I remember saying, ‘First, we’re not. Second, we don’t want to be.’ “My view has been, at least in the past decade or so, Duke is good enough and strong enough that it needs to figure out what it wants to be. And then, just get there.” n

DETAIL MAN: At the Brodhead Center, terra cotta colored ribs pick up the tones found in the adjacent "Duke Stone" sections of the original structure.

Trask bandaged this "lame duck" as a gift to then outgoing provost Peter Lange. It’s been passed on to retirees Bob Shepard, Larry Moneta, and Richard Riddell. It now sits in Trask's office lobby.



LINE UP: Participants in a Duke Forest research tour walk along the boundary of forest plots on their way to an experiment about tree-crown architecture.


Marking time in Duke Forest, where every season offers lessons from the natural world Text and Photography By Scott Huler

The forest works on a different time scale.

Duke Forest, 7,000 acres in six divisions sprawled across Durham, Orange, and Alamance counties, where hardwoods tower and even Highway15-501 becomes a distant rush that actually might be a river, or the wind in the pines. When life speeds up, the forest slows it down. Consider the Stony Creek, which runs through a culvert beneath the forest trail into the peaceful, little-hiked Edeburn Division of the forest. On a bright fall day, you see other hikers and even a couple of bicyclists in spandex, despite signs proscribing bicycles. Late mosquitoes trouble you as you sit by the creek, listening to cicadas and the pops as falling acorns hit leaves on their way down. A monocular carry helps you identify the laughing bird cry you’ve been hearing as a pileated woodpecker. Bluejay shrieks need no identification. Japanese stilt grass fills the ditches by the road as the creek chatters over rocks downstream. Upstream a dam looks too even to be natural, but a somewhat squishy investigation shows it’s nothing but sticks. Some still have tooth marks from the beavers that put them there. An orange butterfly makes its helter-skelter flight in the silence, and on the still pool by the dam you see water skeeters, both the leggy kind and the buggy kind. Green lichens spread over rocks, and mosses cover a tree stump dappled in sun. You sometimes hear a car go by on Old N.C. 10.



This is the forest, and spending time investigating the forest seems like a sensible response to the moment. Assistant forest director Jenna Schreiber lives in the same world you do, and she says the forest soothes. “One thing that’s brought me a lot of peace and grounding during this crazy time, and something I think about in this position a lot when I start feeling overwhelmed,” she says, “is I try to think about things on a forest time scale.” A forest time scale. Planning for forest management forces her to think on time scales of decades, even centuries. “On a fifty-year rotation, a fifty-year time scale?” she says of current stresses. “It doesn’t make that big of a difference.” This is comforting. We all profit from thinking on the forest time scale. Even more so

that includes citizen science. Even in its interaction with the community members who hike and bike there, the forest wants to be a little more like Duke, emphasizing science and learning, engagement and adventure. Seeing “the natural world,” Childs says, “as laboratory. As classroom.”



Of course, that’s obvious in the natural sense: There was land before James Buchanan Duke built a university on it. But in a more intimate sense, when you sit in, say, the Penn Pavilion, you’re in Duke Forest. Not because you can

“It had kind of had the hell beat out of it.”

see trees out its broad windows or even because Anderson Woods, behind it, is still forest and still surveyed by professors and students from the Nicholas School, but because the land for West Campus was carved out of the enormous holdings that have become the forest. When Duke decided to turn Trinity College into a university, job one was acquiring land around the existing college, currently East Campus. Word got out, and prices skyrocketed. There was talk of moving the university to Charlotte. At which point then-president William Preston Few took a walk west of campus. He likened himself to Keats’s “stout Cortez,” he later wrote, “when I stood on a hill, looked out over this wooded tract, and realized that here at last is the land we have been looking for.” Buying commenced and has not stopped—the forest acquired a new piece of land as recently as 2019. The first major purchases totaled around 8,000 acres, of which 5,000 became the first lands of Duke Forest. when the human time scale seems so STORY BOARDS: Silviculture signs tell the history of a forest The reason even people as rich as Duke could frenetic. afford so much land was because, in the words But Duke Forest director Sara plot in a few carefully chosen of professor of botany emeritus and founding Childs reminds you the forest has words. The slats themselves are dean of the Nicholas School Norm Chrismany other jobs beyond soothing made from Eastern Red Cedar tensen, “it had kind of had the hell beat out of frazzled spirits. “It’s not meant to be harvested from the forest. it.” Deforested in the eighteenth and nineteenth another Eno River State Park,” she centuries, the land of the Piedmont had been farmed virtually says. The forest has been part of Duke for nearly a century to death. Its owners had either abandoned it or were glad to (next year is its ninetieth birthday), and it’s in the middle sell it cheaply. That was bad news for the land and the farmof a five-year strategic plan that emphasizes the ecological ers, but good news for Duke and the new professors coming stewardship and research on which the forest has always to town. Advised by prominent foresters, Few realized that focused, but intensifies a style of community engagement 48

the land was of enormous value if it could grow trees, Christensen says. “But we don’t know how to grow these trees, and we don’t know anything about the process” by which old fields revert to natural areas. The foresters recommended that the university dedicate the land as a research, teaching, and demonstration forest, and in 1931, on Few’s recommendation, the trustees did that. “The point I’m making,” Christensen says, “was that old-field succession was an integral part of that dedication.” Old-field succession is the process by which abandoned farmlands progress through stages. First grasses colonize. Next come pines like loblollies, which prosper in harsh sun and bad soil. When the pines get strong enough, they blot out the sun below, which prevents further pines from growing but not the progeny of surrounding hardwoods like oaks, hickories, beeches, and maples. If left alone, the pines will likely collapse after a century or so and the hardwoods will prosper. This is simplified and overgeneralized, but old-field succession is an understood process now. It’s the story of the entire Piedmont, and the main research into it was done in Duke Forest. Clarence Korstian, the forest’s first director, addressed succession from a pragmatic, traditional forestry perspective: “How do trees grow, how do we manage forest in ways that are sustainable but productive?” Christensen says. Ecologist Henry Oosting, hired in 1932, a year after Korstian, was another towering figure in succession, writing some of its most-cited early papers. “They were very focused on what was an ecological process and frankly couldn’t give a damn about whether you could sell a piece of wood or not,” Christensen says of the differing viewpoints of the two men. “It was a creative tension.” And for nearly a century, Duke Forest has been researching ecological processes and growing wood. One of the forest’s largest and most-used divisions is named for Korstian, and a natural area, where the forest is left unmanaged for research, is named for Oosting. In 1975, early in his tenure, Christensen found data left by Korstian on eighty-five permanent plots in the forest. “He went in and marked out the corners and mapped and measured each individual tree.” Christensen and a colleague from UNC “went back out to these places and located these trees. They had numbers painted on them.” He excitedly shows off Oosting’s own forest map, which he owns as a keepsake. “He actually glued it to canvas so he could fold it

up and carry it out to the field LESSON LEARNED: Nicolette Cagle, kneeling, helps with it. You can see the water high-school students in the stains on the back.” Environmental Summer They began resurveying, a Science Program identify process that has “continued evwhat they’ve gathered in ery five to seven years, continthe New Hope Creek. ues to this day.” Data on tree diameter, foliage, height, and sometimes other characteristics are now available for some spots in the forest for nearly a century. “Then we established another 250 permanent plots. The point is, we have this archive of data that allows us to ask a whole host of questions. And the questions we ask today are not anything like the questions Korstian imagined back in 1931.” The research has never stopped. Korstian wondered about wood volume for harvest; current researchers, from Duke and all over the world, are more interested in things like climate change. “It’s the historical database accumulated now over a century that has really set this place apart,” Christensen says of the forest. “As an ecological observatory, a place we can really talk about and study long-term change.”


N A SUNNY LATE FALL DAY, you join the Duke

Forest Research Tour. Forest director Sara Childs wears a baseball cap, a bright orange visibility vest over her sweater, and hiking boots as she steps from the white SUV she has piloted to your first stop. About a dozen interested community members are split between two vehicles, and the first stop is in the Durham Division, where professor of earth systems science Ram Oren will talk about DUKE MAGAZINE WINTER 2020


the Five-Pines Study. “Let me get something for me to take notes with,” Childs says as she climbs back into the truck. “Because I always learn something on these.” Childs got her master’s in environmental management from the Nicholas School in 2008 and says, “It’s fun to work professionally with some of the professors I had when I was a student. Just to continue learning.”

you look here you see longleaf pine, and if you look there you see shortleaf, and there you see Virginia pine, and he was right on.” Those pines all have long needles, bunched together like the end of a toilet brush. Oren has designed an experiment that takes five types of pines (the other two are slash and loblolly) and planted them together to watch them grow. He’s taking into account hydraulic properties and things like the angle of the sun and figuring out which pines do better in different circumstances. He talks about trees paying “the construction costs” of needles in different configurations, about the success of loblollies and slash in the ruined soil left behind by agriculture, explaining how the other trees do fine but improve under different conditions. Two more stops on the tour, one at the campus farm, where graduate students pass tiny potted shoots to the visitors. This is part of a global network of sites growing cloned seeds at various places and under various conditions to see what kind of adaptations emerge. Each little pot with a shoot in it has a tag, showing what genetic strain it is and what conditions it’s getting: Does it get water every day? Sunlight? Changes in phenology—when and how the plant undergoes its various cyclical processes, like budding and leafing—will determine its health. The final tour stop takes you to the Blackwood Division, almost entirely left to its

“You can think of all these little baskets as detectors of the signal from every single one of these trees.” natural processes and largely closed to the The group hikes into EVIDENCE: A basket in the forest’s Blackwood the forest along a cleared Division catches seeds, twigs, and leaves, helping public. As you walk in, you pass a series of laundry baskets on little poles, and graduate right of way beneath elec- researchers understand what is sent out into the student Chase Nunez soon explains: They trical lines, and people environment. gather all the seeds dropping from nearby make their way to a patch trees. With surveys of what trees stand where, the baskets of forest that was evidently cleared a decade or more before. help them map the forest’s output. “You can think of all these Pines of various species stand about twenty feet tall everylittle baskets as detectors of the signal from every single one of where you look. Oren stands before the group and tells the these trees,” Nunez says, giving them information on not just story of an engineer he went to for help in understanding seed production and dispersal but also the support of animals needle structure among various pines. The engineer inthat depend on the seeds; on predators that depend on the stantly opined that long needles would come in bunches, animals; and on how climate change is affecting the whole whereas shorter ones would run along the branch. “And if 50

ecosystem. The laundry baskets on poles are far from the only clues that you’re in a scientific forest: Trees bear spray-painted markings or metal tags; yellow or red tape flutters from trunk or limb. Everything is involved. One visitor asks whether the number of downed trees seems excessive. Good eye: “We do have a hurricane gap simulation going on,” Childs says. Forest workers pulled down trees in 2002 and 2009 to simulate hurricane damage. “We’re starting to see the regrowth pattern.”



ence draws you to a citizen science project organized by the forest. You attend a midwinter meeting in the Nicholas School, eating donuts and drinking coffee with forty or so volunteers, and you learn about an app and a project website. Your job will be to monitor that phenology you heard about on the tour: When buds come out, when leaves unfurl. You’ll sign up for a specific spot in the forest—a transect; basically a section of trail—and specific time periods, and you’ll observe. Childs and some scientists have tagged certain trees, and you will find them and answer questions about whether you see buds or not, whether buds have opened into leaves. The forest is one of 8,400 sites in this project; there are 8.2 million records so far. You will be adding to information pools that stretch back to observers like Thoreau, whose notebooks tell us when buds were coming out in New England in the 1850s.

overlooking the New Hope Creek, a gaze through the lens at the uppermost boughs shows that yes, indeed, the buds are out, tiny red nubs at the end of twigs you can just see if you squint, and you feel like you’ve seen a tree bud for the first time in your life. On another walk you look down and notice a tiny purple wildflower. Another walker stops, too, and consulting various apps and books, you and she agree that it’s probably hepatica, one of the earliest bloomers. There’s no place to mark its bloom on the phenology app, but other wildflower social-media apps will give her a chance to claim it as her own observation, and she wants no competition. She makes you promise that if you share an image of it yourself, “you can say it’s Duke Forest, but don’t say which gate!” (It’s been a while ago, now. It was Gate 26.)


ATE 26 IS ONE of the forest’s most-used gates, halfway between downtown Durham and Chapel Hill, and rare is the time you can park by NATURE’S WAY: Top, periodic tree the side of the road and be the harvests allow the forest to fund only car. On a chilly spring mornitself. Pine stumps left where they are ing that feels like it might be the return nitrogen to the soil; bottom, year’s last hoodie weather, you a rock and some spring beauties stand a quarter mile up the forest remind viewers that apart from its road from Gate 26. You’re with value, the forest is just lovely. a couple of dozen community members who have signed up to HIS LEADS TO A SERIES of midjoin a spring flora and fauna tour, winter walks in the forest, a landscape of gray and led by Nicolette Cagle, a lecturer in the Nicholas School. brown: gray tree trunks, brown leaf litter, and brown “Today,” she says, “I want us to think about our senses.” She boughs high up in the canopy, where you train your little reminds you of the Japanese concept of shinrin-roku, “forest monocular to see whether there are buds. You walk through bathing”—the feeling of well-being you find in the forest— the quiet forest, hearing only bluejay calls and the crunch but quickly reminds you that you should learn something, of your shoes. You stop at each of your sites; every time you too. She notes the song of a red-eyed vireo, then starts down find the specific trees, marked by blue tape and a metal tab the trail, surrounded by happy forest bathers. identifying its species (ACRU, for example; for Acer rubrum, Everything she sees, she explains. Barely a few steps along red maple), you feel like stout Cortez, or anyway like Wilshe squats to show off Salvia lyrata, a foot-high plant with liam Preston Few. At the innermost spot, on a rocky outcrop hanging purple blossoms and a square stem also known as




“lyre-leaf sage” or even “cancer weed” for its propensity to spread. It’s edible, and Native Americans used it as a salve. A few steps further on she points out muscadine, the local wild grapevine. “If you take a sharp stick and jab it into a muscadine stem, it will start dripping water,” she says. “Now you know a survival skill.” It goes on like that for an hour. She captures and has you smell a cyanide millipede (“sorry, little guy—hey, don’t bite me, bud!”). You can boil wood sorrel to get a yellow dye; it sometimes closes its flowers at night like morning glory, a

WATCHING: Left, citizen-science volunteers disappear into the forest as they peer upward for signs of spring; right, viewers listen to a presentation on a worldwide experiment at the Duke Campus Farm; bottom, shelf fungus colonizes a tree.


process called “nyctinastic movement.” She decides not to open a gall to see the wasp larvae that cause it, admits that nobody knows whether rattlesnake ferns get their name as habitat or bite treatment, and introduces you to the Virginia pennywort, a mychoheterotrope, which means it shares resources with the trees on which it grows. “This is in some ways a cute, tiny little beautiful parasite,” she says. It somehow helps the trees share resources one to another: “The trees share resources through fungus,” she says. “What we don’t know is the why.” She is teaching you to truly be in the forest. Here she digs into the earth to show off snails that seem to be constantly under study in the Korstian; there she urges you to close your eyes and just listen. The point, she says, is “deep noticing.”


ALKING DEEP INTO the forest, you hear a

The point, she says, is “deep noticing.”

This reminds you of a description of a walk in the woods with Clarence Korstian himself in 1931. “See here,” the writer describes Korstian examining the soil, “this little salamander, picking his way through the leaves. Here’s the runway of a rodent. That’s a field mouse or a shrew. If we sat down quietly here for a while, on a hot day, the whole place would be alive with sounds of the animal life—the spiders, the worms, the bugs, the rodents. “Most people do not understand just what this life means not only to the trees of the forest but also in rebuilding the soil for further use as farming land. It must be protected by all means.”

rumbling, and as you turn a corner you see an open area, recently clear-cut. Tall pines stand along the edge of the field, which is otherwise covered by boughs, needles, and other pine litter. By the road, forest supervisor Tom Craven is driving a loader, smoothing out some dirt in the deck. “The deck is where they load the wood,” he says—a process you can see has already taken place here. He’s preparing it for the next time an adjacent parcel will be harvested. Underneath the machinery, soil compacts, so you want to keep the deck as small and stationary as possible, though they throw down seeds for natural grasses and wildflowers to help things along. He’s thinking about the future. But he’s harvesting pines because of the past. This was old farmland: “I could tell as I walked the forest. You could see the old furrows,” and as Christensen told you, nothing grows better on farmed-out land than loblollies. This was its first harvest since it was purchased. A nearby silviculture sign—a post in the ground, with horizontal slats for each event in the forest’s life—tells the story of another parcel: Loblolly pine/planted 1932/ thinned 1954 & ’64/seed tree harvest 1988/natural regeneration 1989/pine release 1990/seed trees removed 1992/ precommercially thinned 1996/thinning 2013. That’s like reading the family Bible for this patch of forest. Seed tree harvest means the plot was clear-cut, with a half-dozen or so of the best specimens left standing to reseed the field. “Pine release” is the clearing out of competing vegetation, and thinning is just what it sounds like. Almost a hundred years of forest management history in twenty-seven words. These signs stand everywhere in the forest, giving pocket histories of parcels, and Childs sees them as vital. The forest is managing timber as a natural resource, and she thinks it’s vital that people see what that looks like. In an urban area, “we actually feel quite separated from, and we lack

the appreciation of, the entire life cycle of where those raw resources are coming from.” She says the forest gets little pushback from its more rural neighbors, but closer to the cities people sometimes reflexively object to any cutting they see. “We always want to have this opportunity to show that timber management is a part of sustainability, and part of renewable resource use,” Childs says. Renewable indeed. Duke Forest has never been fertilized; those boughs sprinkled over the field, and the roots left in place, put nitrogen right back into the soil. The harvested timber provides money for the forest’s management. And the forest itself has renewed thousands of acres of land that ninety years ago were all but dead.


OR A LAST LONG WALK, you head past Gate

22 and along the gravel road called Nettie’s Fire Trail. The road quickly diminishes into a gravel double-track, then after a right at a couple of trees into a leafy double-track alongside a sunny field of broomsedge and Queen Anne’s Lace and other ditchy plants, with tall pines growing along the edge. Tiny ones show up in the middle of the fields. As you go on, the pines grow taller, soon replaced by oaks and poplars, and the shade grows darker. The road becomes truly a trail, grass and decomposed leaves leading into the dimness. In the silence you can just hear the Pine Mountain Creek, burbling further down the slope. Above your head boughs seem to reach across the trail; occasional blotches of sun filter through, but you are deep in the forest now. And then, through the tall oaks, maples, and sweet gums, you see. A clapboard house, one story, once painted white, but that was a long time ago. Peaked tin roof, covered in rust and pine straw and leaves. Keep Out and No Trespassing signs warn against entry, but a glance at the house already does that. The windows are empty. Inside, most floors have collapsed, into the puddles of a dark empty cellar. Concrete steps leading nowhere, yards from the doors, betray porches long rotted away. The house is empty, and has been for half a century. The forest has it now. Like the piedmont itself, it’s being transformed, turning from a house back into the forest originally cleared for its building, just like the land on which it sits. The Nettie of Nettie’s Fire Trail was Nettie Couch, the last person who lived on this land, from whom it was acquired, in 1947, to be one of the last large acquisitions of Duke Forest. That’s a perfect ending for a hike. Duke Forest is a place of transformation. n DUKE MAGAZINE WINTER 2020


ForeverDukeAWARDS Making the world better Every year the Duke Alumni Association presents awards to alumni representing the undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools who embody the spirit of Forever Duke and advance the Duke ideal of “knowledge in the service of society.” Meet this year’s awardees!

Beyond Duke Service and Leadership Award Inaugurated in 2014 to recognize alumni who have distinguished themselves through service to their community, to their country, or to society at large AWARDEES:

Nancy Hogshead-Makar ’86, P ’23 (Jacksonville, Fla.) John Carreyrou ’94 (New York) Lori Pierce M.D. ’85 (Ann Arbor, Mich.) Durwood Zaelke J.D. ’72 (Washington, D.C.) Linda Markee B.S.N. ’63 and Joseph Markee M.D. ’65 (Vancouver, Wash.) Nana Asante-Smith ’12 (Durham, N.C.)

Forever Duke Award Recognizes alumni for excellent recent volunteer service to Duke, the DAA and other alumni groups INDIVIDUAL AWARDEES: Edith Arrington ’95 (Philadelphia) Adonica Black ’11 (Hyattsville, Md.) Grace Chang ’97 (Littleton, Colo.) Caitlyn Clarke M.M.S. ’11 (Quincy, Mass.) Oren Cohen M.D. ’87 (Durham, N.C.) Echo Hindle-Yang M.B.A. ’10 (New York) Todd Horst ’91, P ’23 (Chevy Chase, Md.) Jocelyn Hunter ’84, J.D. ’87 (Atlanta) Blake Long ’82, M.D. ’86, M.B.A. ’15, H.S. ’92-’92, P ’09, P ’12, P ’14 (Durham, N.C.) Amy McKeag ’98, M.B.A. ’06 (Waban, Mass.) Pamela McLoughlin ’95 (Northville, Mich.) Jacqueline Militello ’87 (Wanchai, Hong Kong) Colleen Ogilvie ’97 (Austin, Texas) Uche Osuji E. ’95, M.B.A. ’01 (New York) Margo Riddle ’83 (Charlotte, N.C.)

Joseph Saldutti E.E. ’88, P ’20 (Wilton, Conn.)

Bethann Horey ’84, P ’18 (Alexandria, Va.)

Jennifer Saperstein ’05 (Chevy Libby Jandl ’13 (New York) Chase, Md.) Kathleen Scheessele M.B.A. ’95, P ’93, P ’97 (Charlotte, N.C.) GROUP AWARDEES: Group 1: Duke Nashville Regional Volunteers Mimi Bliss ’88 Rowena Cuffe ’87, M.D. ’91, M.H.S. ’98, H.S. ’91-’94, P ’20 Lauren Frazier Rowe ’97 Sarabeth Hearon ’82, P ’10 Group 2: Duke Asian Alumni Alliance, New York Regional Co-chairs Ya Fang ’17 Leighanne Oh E. ’15, M.S. ’17 Jennifer Yam ’14 Group 3: Duke Women’s Soccer Advisory Board Lisa Fischer ’93 (Reston, Va.)

Ashley Rape ’12 (Washington, D.C.) Avery Rape ’14 (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.) Group 4: Paul Quinn College Partnership in Dallas, Texas Paul Genender ’91, J.D. ’94 Nikki Gibson ’80, P ’11, P ’15, P ’17 Andrew Halpern ’80, P ’18 Group 5: Alumni Admissions Advisory Committee Fairfield County, Conn. Andrew Kirby E. ’80, P ’09, P ’12 Phil Schaefer ’78 Group 6: Annual Fund Advisory Board Immediate Past Co-chairs Katie McClay ’01 (Chicago) Barry Schneirov E. ’85, P ’17 (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Molly Germanese ’11, M.M.S. ’12 (Boston) Group 7: Duke Houston Regional Co-chairs Elaine Goodman ’91 (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.) David Piccirilli ’11 Viswa Subbaraman ’98


Distinguished Alumni Award Even at Duke, Sue Monroe Gordon ’80 was a woman of action. As a student, she was a three-time captain of the women’s basketball team, even as she studied for a program in functional morphology. Gordon then launched a career in intelligence; her first stop was the Central Intelligence Agency, where she ultimately spent twenty-seven years, rising to senior executive positions in each of the agency’s four directorates: operations, analysis, science and technology, and support. She also designed and drove the formation of In-QTel, a private, nonprofit company whose primary purpose is to deliver innovative technology solutions for the agency and the intelligence community. Later, she became deputy director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, helping to drive its transformation to combat twenty-first century threats. Gordon later became the fifth principal deputy director of national intelligence, focusing on advancing intelligence integration across the community, expanding outreach and partnerships, and driving innovation.

Charles A. Dukes Award for Outstanding Volunteer Serivce

Jack Boyd ’85 says he’s grateful to Duke for helping him move beyond his comfort zone. “I feel an obligation to help others have the same kind of transformative Duke experience. Whether they are students or alums, it’s never too late.”

“Duke took a chance on this 16-yearold, first-gen kid from a backwoods rural high school and opened the world to me,” says Kim Reed ’86. “The alumni have enriched my life tremendously and have influenced my career, my parenting, my hobbies, my activism, and my views on many subjects.”

“Whether it was interviewing prospective students, hosting new highschool graduates, giving guidance and a network for alumni looking for internships and jobs,” says Jonathan Chou M.B.A. ’99, P ’18, “I found it gratifying to see the alumni to whom you have offered kindness and help, in turn, pay it forward.”

When Carson Dowd Howard ’76, P ’06, P ’09, P ’11 came to Duke in 1972, she says, she felt a sense of community immediately. “My involvement as a volunteer reminds me how lucky I was to attend Duke and how I need to encourage others to become Blue Devils!” Jeffrey C. Howard ’76, P ’06, P ’09, P ’11 says, “It’s easy to commit time and energy to a place that invested in me and the people who impacted my life in a most important and lasting way.”

Anthony and Mary Barra P ’19, P ’21 say serving as co-chairs and national chairs of the Parents Committee has been a great experience. “Joining the Parents Committee continues to be a great way to meet a wonderful group of parents and to give back to a university that has given so much to our two children.” DUKE MAGAZINE WINTER 2020


ForeverDukeNEWSMAKERS Cuquis G. Robledo ’17 won three awards from the WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, in directing, cinematography, and animation.

Ross Harris ’78, M.B.A. ’80 was promoted to vice president, marketing and communications, at Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro.

Beast Brands, owned and founded by John Cascarano ’01, raised over $3 million in venture-capital funding.

Max Templeton III ’71 competed in the National Veterans Golden Age Games at Home and won three medals. He represented New Mexico.

Starsky D. Wilson D.Min. ’19 was named president and CEO of The Children’s Defense Fund. His appointment, following founder Marian Wright Edelman, marks the first leadership change in forty-seven years.

Serena Agaba Rwejuna J.D. ’13 was re-elected to serve a second term as president of the board of directors for Calvary Women’s Services.

Vida Williams ’95 gave the opening keynote and served as judge at the Virginia Datathon. She is chief diversity officer for SingleStone, a technology consulting firm in Richmond, Va.

Amy Yeung J.D. ’06 was selected by the Association of Corporate Counsel for the Jonathan S. Silber Network Member of the Year Award, which recognizes participation in network leadership and other contributions. Kimberly West-Faulcon ’92 discussed the executive branch and the scope of U.S. presidential power at a Constitution Happy Hour at the UCLA Hammer Museum. She is a Loyola Law School professor.


Joshua J. Carroll J.D. ’16 was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. He is also a corporate associate at Ropes & Gray in Boston.

7Have news to share about your

achievements and milestones? Submit a class note and read your classmates’ latest news by logging into All photos courtesy the individual unless noted

Sterly Wilder ’83, senior associate vice president, engagement and development


s time has marched on through this pandemic and our cool spring days became long and hot summer days that turned to fall and now winter, it is so hard to believe that what I used to refer to as Alumni World Headquarters has now become my dining-room table and my laptop. The Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center—our beautiful new home for alumni on campus, dedicated in late September 2019 at the corner of Duke University Road and Chapel Drive—transitioned to a headquarters for flu shots and was the most popular voting location in Durham County. In our work-from-home environment, I did not see my office for six months and have not seen my colleagues, except on Zoom. I began to understand what our alumni who live away from Durham feel–not being able to walk on campus, hearing the chapel bells only on Facebook at 5 p.m. every day, and missing the energy and vibrancy of this amazing place. Unlike most alumni, six months is the longest I have ever been away from campus. In fact, I have never been away from Duke for more than a month, and that was for summer camp when I was a teenager. I started my life in Duke Hospital many years ago (you can probably figure out how many years from my class year), grew up a half mile from campus, and have now started my thirty-eighth year of employment at Duke. For me, the physical space of the campus is almost as important as the people—the place that I, and so many, call home is real and tangible.

The work of the Duke Alumni staff over the past few months has been extraordinary. In a few short weeks after we went home, we started turning out programs, distributing newsletters, reaching out to our alumni who were on the front lines of the pandemic, and reaching out to students as well. We worked across school and unit lines to forge a partnership with Student Affairs and launched the Keep Exploring initiative, which connected 425 students with alumni for meaningful mentoring or internship experiences. With the help of colleagues on campus, we launched Coursera for Duke Alumni and developed a YouTube page to curate our Lifelong Learning programs, as well as content from every school at Duke. Duke Magazine went virtual—and now is back in print. We learned we could connect easily with alumni from Raleigh to Singapore and San Francisco by Zoom and engage more alumni than ever before. We pivoted, we engaged, we celebrated, and we came together as a university and alumni community. So, while I miss my beloved campus a great deal, I have now come to appreciate the experience of most of our 180,000 alumni who live in all corners of the world (and even in Chapel Hill). Know that Duke Alumni will come out of this pandemic stronger, better, and more excited than ever to find ways to engage you in the life of your university, your home. And, when it is safe, we will welcome you back to campus with open arms. BE SAFE, BE WELL, AND BE FOREVER DUKE. n

Strategist A



His innovative ideas have helped save his family’s newspaper (you may have heard of it). But David Perpich does his work without fanfare. By JULIA M. KLEIN Photography by FRANK FOURNIER

n his final year at Duke, DAVID PERPICH ’99 wasn’t keen on writing an economics thesis. He told his father that he had a better idea: working as part owner of Devil’s Delivery Service in Durham. “So,” Joseph G. Perpich fired back, “you want to deliver food instead of writing a senior thesis?” “I said, ‘Don’t think about it that way,’ ” David Perpich recalls. “ ‘Think about the experience of learning about what it is to do something entrepreneurial.’ ” The pitch, like many to come, proved persuasive. “Really, at the end of the day, I’ve always been highly motivated,” says Perpich, who last January began overseeing a new standalone products group at The New York Times. “But sometimes it’s taken me in twists and turns that maybe are not traditional paths.” That penchant for unconventional choices, he says, “has been part of my success.” Since Duke, Perpich’s career has embraced two failed Internet start-ups, a still-thriving deejay academy, Harvard Business School, and a consulting gig. Those choices have led to a place that seems to suit him, by both heritage and inclination—and helped him reimagine the landscape of newspaper journalism. In just over a decade at The Times, Perpich has done as much as anyone to position the company bought in 1896 by his great-great-grandfather, Adolph S. Ochs—and still controlled by a family trust—for its digital future. It was the forty-three-year-old Perpich who masterminded the launch of a metered paywall and other new subscription products—The Times’ salvation as advertising continues to decline. Mark Thompson, chief executive officer and president of The New York CITY LIFE: Perpich Times Company from 2012 until September, credits him as “one of the co-architects” of a strategy, distinctive in the em- outside The New York Times' building on battled industry, that has created a “virtuous circle” of digital Eighth Avenue subscription growth and journalistic investment.



ForeverDukePROFILE The numbers help tell the story: The Times, not long ago financially floundering and in debt, now counts more than 7 million total subscribers, a figure it aims to grow to 10 million by 2025. Just over 6 million of the current subscriptions are digital. The company reached its 2020 digital revenue goal, of $800 million, a year early. And it is plowing profits back into its newsroom, which boasts an all-time-high of 1,750 journalists. Around the country, other newspapers—wracked, well before COVID-19, by plummeting advertising and subscription revenues and mostly lacking The Times' resources and ambitions—have been trying to implement paywalls, too, with varying results. “He’s a digital innovator,” A.G. Sulzberger, The Times' publisher, says of Perpich, his first cousin. “He’s a great strategic mind who’s proven able to bring those strategies to life. One of the lessons I’ve learned over the years: Even when you think David might be wrong in the moment, he very well might be right a few years from now.”

day marks his tenth anniversary at The Times. The “through line” of his résumé, he says, with a dash of business-school jargon, has been a “passion for empowering talented people to come together to build something—and oftentimes things that didn’t exist before—in ways that blow readers away and really drive value to the company.” Perpich sometimes uses a metaphor for The Times known as “the Perpichian daisy,” with news at its center and other, service-oriented content as petals. “What The New York Times is about is so much more than just news,” he tells the group. Historically, the newspaper pointed out sales, recommended books and movies, offered recipes and parenting advice. That was “the brand promise of The Times,” Perpich says. Some past functions, “like helping people find jobs,” he concedes, “are never coming back.” But his new charge—and theirs—will be “unlocking that brand promise” once again. That task was complicated in mid-March, when Perpich and his team dispersed to their respective homes in response

“So much of the past six months has really been focused on


n January 30, a standing-room-only crowd of about sixty people, most from New Products and Ventures, crams into a room in The Times’ sleek, Renzo Piano-designed headquarters in midtown Manhattan to meet the new boss. To some, he is a familiar face: Their bailiwick includes the NYT Cooking and Crossword (now Games) apps, which Perpich originally helped to create. Perpich’s standalone products group is designed to subsume this one, as well as The Times' “entrepreneurs in residence” program and Wirecutter, the online product-recommendation site he has shepherded, as president and general manager, since 2017. Its headquarters will be Long Island City, Queens, where Wirecutter already is based—far enough away from the “mother ship,” Thompson says, to have the freedom “to make decisions, to make mistakes, without us crushing them.” Meredith Kopit Levien, now CEO and president, and formerly the company’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, planned the reorganization and tapped Perpich for the position. “I have long thought that David was a great underutilized force of strategic insight and big thinking and ambition for the company,” she says. Plus, “people like to work with him.” A slight, slender presence in dark-framed glasses and his standard attire of a shirt, pullover sweater, jeans, and gray sneakers, Perpich mentions that, according to LinkedIn, to-


to New York’s COVID-19 lockdown. They continue to work remotely, meeting via Zoom and messaging on Slack. Speaking by phone in October from his Manhattan apartment, Perpich says he was well prepared for the transition by his stint at Wirecutter, where two-thirds of the 150 or so employees never came into the office. These last few months have been a time of both retrenchment and innovation. Parenting content being developed for a prospective paid app was instead folded back into the main news report. With most people not venturing far from home, a potential travel product was scrapped, but an entrepreneur-in-residence continues to work on a product for kids. Meanwhile, demand for Cooking and Games content has expanded. And, in March, the company purchased a subscription-based, read-aloud audio app, Audm, which Perpich’s team helps support. As of the third quarter of 2020, the three paid apps—primarily Cooking and Games—accounted for 1.3 million of The Times' digital subscriptions. “So much of the past six months has really been focused on responding to this moment,” Perpich says. With people “trapped inside” by the pandemic, he says, “they were turning to Cooking to cook more, they were turning to Games and playing more games, they were turning to Wirecutter to figure out what gear they needed to work from home more effectively. In all of those ways, all of these products have grown bigger in terms of the role they’ve played for readers and for the business.”

HIS FULL NAME IS David Sulzberger

after a notable District of Columbia federal Perpich. But he tends not to advertise his appeals-court judge, David L. Bazelon, for link to the powerful Ochs-Sulzberger clan. whom his father had clerked. Along with his intellectual curiosity, collabRaised in Chevy Chase, Maryland, in a LEADER: Perpich with members orative nature, and leadership skills, Perhouse filled with newspapers, Perpich says of the New Products and Ventures pich’s friends and colleagues repeatedly cite he felt no pressure to enter the family busiteam his humility. “He is someone who, like the ness. “I was mostly shielded from thinkwhole family, is very humble, very reserved, ing about what it actually was and what it and very dedicated,” says Ben Tishler ’99, a three-time Emmy meant,” he says. “My grandparents were unassuming about it. Award-winning producer, director, and writer who was one of My grandfather could not have been more down-to-earth or Perpich’s frat brothers and roommates. more modest.” To David and the other, younger grandchildren, In October 2016, Perpich lost a cordial competition against Punch Sulzberger (who died in 2012) was “Poppop,” a perfect two cousins, Arthur Gregg Sulzberger and Sam Dolnick, to playmate, jokester, and lover of gadgets who taught them how become The Times' deputy publisher and, eventually, publishto catch frogs, fish, and tap smoke rings out of dinner glasses. er. In January 2018, A.G., as he’s known inside the building, Still, when the adult Perpich expressed interest in The Times, “I succeeded his father, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., referred to as could tell that he appreciated it.” “AOS.” When his father retires as board chairman on DecemEach year, the family holds both a reunion and a family asber 31, A.G. will add that title, completing what The Times sembly. The reunion is social and welcoming to children, while the more business-oriented assembly, at The Times' headquarters, is reserved for those eighteen and older, Perpich says. It includes a day of briefings on the calls “a generational shift.” state of The Times and a second day focused on family goverPerpich was given the chance to run Wirecutter, which he nance. Perpich and his sister Abby are among the seven descenhad helped The Times acquire for $30 million. He tripled staff dants of Adolph S. Ochs, all fifth-generation, currently working size and revenues, which come mostly from affiliate sales, while at The Times. But the point of the assembly is to remind the fine-tuning the site’s mission. In 2019, he was elected to The dozens of other cousins that they, too, have a stake. Times Company’s board of directors. “He’s not the most talk“The family reunion,” Perpich explains, “is about family glue.” ative person in the room—that’s not his style,” says A.G. SulzThe two-day assembly capitalizes on those bonds. “The Friday berger. “But he’s one of the people in the room [who], when he of the family assembly is about strengthening that glue to The talks, everyone listens.” Times itself,” Perpich says, “and Saturday is about how does the The family connection is through Perpich’s mother, Cathy J. family work together to support that connection to The Times.” Sulzberger. After former Times publisher and board chairman Arthur Ochs “Punch” Sulzberger married Carol Fox Fuhrman, IT WAS PERPICH’S AUNT, Cynthia Fox Sulzberger ’86, who his second wife, in 1956, he adopted Cathy, her daughter from convinced him to check out Duke. A student at the private an earlier marriage. Sidwell Friends School in Washington, Perpich says he was Perpich’s Croatian-born paternal grandfather was a coal miner looking for both academic excellence and “school spirit.” A in Hibbing, Minnesota. His father, a psychiatrist and a lawyer, visit to Durham hooked him, and he says, “I do not think I works for a behavioral health-services firm on the problem of could have picked a better school for me.” opioid misuse. His three paternal uncles were all dentists who Perpich initially considered a medical career, but an internwent into Minnesota politics. The most prominent was Rudy ship in Duke University Hospital’s general surgery ward disPerpich, a Democratic governor in the 1970s, ’80s, and early suaded him. Instead, he became intrigued by economics and ’90s whose quirks earned him the nickname “Governor Goofy.” business. He pledged the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity, where he “My parents like to joke that they met working [in Senator met Tishler, who remembers Perpich sporting sideburns and Ted Kennedy’s office] on a venereal-disease bill together,” Perdriving a teal car. Tishler calls his friend “one of the smartest pich says. (His father worked for Kennedy, a Massachusetts people I’ve ever met, and one of the most clear-eyed thinkers.” Democrat, and his mother for New York Republican Senator Kara Barnett ’00, now executive director of American BalJacob Javits.) The eldest of three children (one of his two sislet Theatre, says that at Duke she was struck by Perpich’s “inters, Sarah Perpich ’02, followed him to Duke), he was named

responding to

Frank Fournier / Contact Press Images

this moment.”



ForeverDukePROFILE satiable intellectual curiosity” about music, technology, and world affairs. As they forged careers in the arts and became classmates at Harvard Business School, he was “a mentor and cheerleader and confidante,” she says. “He sees opportunity around every corner.” Tishler, along with Aaron Perlmutter ’99, introduced Perpich to his future wife, Nilam Patel, a pharmaceutical executive. The fix-up represented the return of a favor: Perpich had introduced Tishler to his second cousin Margot Golden. “Then Margot and I got married,” Tishler says, “and Dave and I technically became cousins.” At Perpich’s 2013 wedding, at the Atlanta History Center, Tishler delivered the best-man toast. It was a “HinJew” wedding, Perpich says, featuring both a rabbi and a Hindu priest. Wearing an Indian outfit and a yarmulke, he rode a horse up a hill to the festivities and danced with guests before the bride arrived. Afterward, he and Patel, now forty-eight, quickly started a family, which now includes a six-year-old daughter, Priya, and a three-year-old son, Nathan.


nthony D’Avella bonded with Perpich over sneakers. They met in a Harvard Business School orientation program for students from “nontraditional” backgrounds, a designation that included entrepreneurs. At a student event in downtown Boston, the two men were barred at the door. “I think I was wearing red Pumas, he was wearing shell top Adidas,” D’Avella says. “And we weren’t allowed into the club because they didn’t allow people in that wore sneakers.” Sharing a cab back to change, they vented their mutual frustration: “We can’t believe they wouldn’t let us in with nice kicks.” Soon after, on a weekend train ride to New York, they discovered common interests in digital media and music. Perpich

Wanting to “get closer to music,” he also helped start Artist Funding Strategies, which allowed fans to invest in their favorite bands’ upcoming albums—“like a Kickstarter before there was a Kickstarter.” His first entrepreneurial success was Scratch DJ Academy, in collaboration with Rob Principe ’95. Perpich was vice president of operations, running the New York school, overseeing the opening of schools in Los Angeles and Miami, and building a national deejay booking business. He helped develop the parent company, over three years, into a $2.5 million business. But much as he loved hanging out with other “music nerds,” he knew he didn’t want to work there forever. “All along this way,” Perpich says, “I had not really considered The Times, partially because I really had this entrepreneurial streak, and I wanted to go build something, partially because I was drawn to music, and partially because I wanted to go and prove that I could do something beyond The Times, and that I was making a conscious decision to go there—and

“He sees opportunity around every corner.” was talking about “what The Times was doing from a news perspective,” recalls D’Avella, founder of Runyon Design, a product-design firm that would later consult for Wirecutter. “We shared rich conversations at a very interesting time of evolution. We’ve been friends ever since.” By the time Perpich opted for business school, he had a Times career in his sights. Before that, he had worked on a sports start-up, Sportscapsule, that offered tools for editing video clips and posting them online—“the right idea,” he says, “but poorly timed.” 62

bowing out of a position he’d lined up at Booz & Company. But Janet L. Robinson, then The Times Company’s president and CEO, advised him to take the consulting gig. “It’s the right career step,” she said. But Perpich never stopped thinking about The Times. In November 2008, he sent Golden a detailed e-mail urging The Times to adopt a metered digital paywall similar to the one used by the Financial Times. “I truly believe this is the model of the future and I think The Times could pull off some version of this,” he wrote, underlining those words. Perpich downplays the impact of his advice. But, in 2010, he says he got a call from Martin Nisenholtz, then senior vice president for digital operations: “He said, ‘We’re going to launch this paywall thing—maybe it’s time to come back.’ ”

Frank Fournier / Contact Press Images

not kind of defaulting into it.” NEWSROOM: The paywall Perpich helped The biggest factor in changing to design has allowed his course was the crisis in the The Times to keep a newspaper industry, which threatrobust staff. ened the family business. “I think the Internet made The Times way more interesting for me,” Perpich says, “because there were really challenging problems to solve that in a print-alone world were not there.” AS BUSINESS-SCHOOL GRADUATION approached, in

2007, he did what was customary when members of the Ochs-Sulzberger lineage wanted to join The Times: He contacted a relative. As he recalls, he told either AOS (his uncle and then the publisher) or Michael Golden, his cousin and then-vice chairman, that he had summer plans to ride the Trans-Mongolian Railroad across Asia. But perhaps, he suggested, he could intern at the company that fall. He got his shot at, an online information business the company had bought in 2005. (It was sold in 2012, at a loss.) Perpich enjoyed the experience enough to consider

FROM 2005 TO 2007, The Times had experimented with charging for digital content with TimesSelect, which put its opinion journalism behind a paywall. But subscriptions plateaued, Times columnists complained about smaller readership, and “it wasn’t considered to have been a success,” Perpich says. When the paywall idea resurfaced, it had the support of the company’s leadership, but “not everybody felt that we should be doing this,” Perpich says. “Frankly, with a lot of the things that I’ve done here at The Times, I’ve often felt like I’m swimming upstream. The paywall was one of those things.” It defied the “conventional wisdom” of the time, says A.G. Sulzberger, and was a “brave bet” by his father, then the publisher. “To me,” says Perpich, “what was totally intuitive was The New York Times is something that people have an emotional connection to. And they pay for it in print. My mantra was the meter model allows it to be free, until it’s not. There is a way to do this that’s pretty low risk, where the majority of people will never even have to consider paying.” As designed by Perpich and his team, the paywall, launched in 2011, allowed readers free access to a few stories each month, varying over time from twenty to as low as five or fewer. The wall, for a while, was deliberately “leaky,” allowing readers to bypass their story quota by using platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. (A registration requirement has since tightened access.) Digital subscriptions were free for full print subscribers and priced competitively with weekend print subscriptions—a way of introducing digital without encouraging existing subscribers to flee the profitable print edition. “We were experimenting,” Perpich says. Nevertheless, the paywall was “pretty much a success from day one.” The concept, Sulzberger explains, was to “get the loyal readers who already value The New York Times to help support the journalism they depend on, while also introducing [the journalism to] a new generation of readers. It was as elegant a solution as you could imagine.”



ForeverDukePROFILE Perpich “pushed the paywall at a time of real skepticism in the industry—and ridicule,” says Clifford J. Levy, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner who is The Times’ metro editor and an associate managing editor. “The digital know-it-alls ridiculed The Times, [saying that] this paywall will not work, that this is the last dying gasp of The New York Times. And [Perpich] was right.” With both revenues and newsroom employment at U.S. newspapers in steep decline (the latter slid 47 percent between 2008 and 2018), most regional and metro dailies have since followed The Times’ lead, or tried to. The metered paywall, says Sulzberger, is “as imitated as any business innovation in the journalism industry of the last twenty years.”

THE COMPETITION FOR THE PUBLISHER’S position “hung over all of us for a while,” Perpich recalls. “But somewhere in 2014 is when I remember the real conversations starting.” During the process, he read Susan E. Tifft and Alex S. Jones’ 1999 book, The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family Behind The New York Times, an intimate chronicle of past family rifts and succession battles. (For more than a decade, Tifft ’73, who died in 2010, taught at the Sanford School’s DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy as the Patterson Professor of the practice of journalism.) “There

rom the paywall, Perpich moved to creating a series of apps for Times content—petals on the daisy. In each case, he assembled interdepartmental teams, bulldozing the traditional divides between business and editorial—a new model for The Times that Sulzberger says also is being imitated across the industry. “Transformational” is how Levy describes working with Perpich on the now-defunct NYT Now app, an early attempt to re-imagine The Times’ content for mobile devices. Perpich helped allay chronic newsroom suspicion of business-side incursions by being, Levy says, “one of the smartest non-journalists about journalism that I’ve ever met.” Sam Sifton, The Times’ food editor and founding editor of NYT Cooking, describes the app as “a lunatic experiment” to “take a bunch of dead-article assets, which live in our morgue—our recipes—and bring them back to life with the preposterous notion that there would be a huge audience for that, and that there would be revenue in it as well.” Sifton came to the project as “a dyed-in-the-wool newsroom stereotype,” with no business experience. Jargon such as, “ ‘we were iterating in the cooking space,’ ” was “hilarious to me,” he says. Perpich was “very patient” with him, while also allowing him creative freedom. “David was able to work with engineers, with designers, with newsroom journalists, with product people, with business development executives, with marketing folks, and understand each of those stakeholders’ point of view and move us forward together,” Sifton says. “His ability to lead a large and complex team of people who work in different disciplines is phenomenal.”

were definitely times when he was stressed,” says his friend D’Avella, “and there were other times he was excited.” Perpich shrugs off any disappointment at the outcome. He says he was “not at all surprised to see A.G. get that role, and very thankful he did, both back then and now.” Among Sulzberger’s strengths, he says, are his skill as a “long-term thinker” and his ability to represent the institution in public settings. When Sulzberger’s promotion to deputy publisher was announced, in October 2016, the three cousins, by prearrangement, went out for drinks together. The next day, the two runners-up told the paper’s Page One meeting that A.G. had been the best choice. By all accounts, they remain close. “They all like each other—love each other is not too strong a word,” says Thompson. “They collaborate effectively together.” D’Avella says: “What was made clear by all three of the cousins was, ‘Hey, we’re all going to be in this together, wherever it happens to net out….’ That’s just the way they are: They’re family first.” In Tishler’s view, “David could have and, in my estimation as his friend, should have gone to work at The Times a lot earlier. I think he wanted to both earn his stripes and do his own thing. And when the paper needed him, he came in, and obviously thrived, and did it in a very Dave, humble, under-the-radar, get-the-job-done kind of way. “But the impact of what he’s done I don’t think can be overstated in any way,” Tishler says. “The people who know, know.” n



“ of the smartest non-journalists about that I’ve ever met.”


A former reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Klein has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Mother Jones, Slate, and many other publications. Follow her on Twitter, @JuliaMKlein.



INSTAGRAM: @nikhilsanon

The COVID-19 pandemic paused gatherings of family and friends worldwide and left couples hoping to say “I do” scrambling to unsave the date. Not so for HAYLEY BOLING ’17 and NIKHIL SANON ’16. When their 275-person wedding at Duke Chapel was canceled, the couple decided to still go through with their plans. “We just couldn’t wait to be married!” they wrote us. And so—on their original date, August 8—they held a small, mask-wearing family ceremony in Hayley’s hometown of Winston-Salem. Their story has all the makings of a great Duke love story: They met in the common room of Kilgo in 2014, had their first date on Valentine’s Day, spent two years dating long-distance while Nikhil worked in Wisconsin and Hayley worked in North Carolina—and got engaged in the Duke Chapel courtyard where they had shared their first kiss. These days, the Sanons are settling into their new home and life in Washington, D.C., where Hayley is a research assistant at the American Enterprise Institute and Nikhil is a project manager at medical-record software company Epic Systems. They still plan to have their Duke Chapel wedding, nearly one year to the date of their masked I-dos. Their advice to couples getting married in the time of COVID-19? “Pick your vendors like a pandemic is going to ruin your wedding plans.” n

Jamie Vinson




In good voice

rett Tyne ’97 can seamlessly switch from a Western Texas twang to a lyrical Scottish accent straight from the Highlands. Some might call her a modern-day Henry Higgins, but she’s really a dialect coach, who traverses the world to help actors learn tricky accents for movies and television shows. Tyne recently worked with Renee Zellweger to master the breathy Hollywood accent of the 1930s for her 2019 Oscar-winning performance as Judy Garland in the movie Judy.

lenges. On Judy, Tyne worked with a dozen actors, many of whom were English but needed a mid-Atlantic American accent. “We had a lot of primary source material since the people in the movie were real,” said Tyne. “But we used those sources as inspiration, not for impersonation.” She studied anything she could get her hands on of both the young and older Judy Garland. She found video and voice recordings of the supporting characters like Liza Minelli in her early twenties and MGM boss Louis B. Mayer. Tyne also worked with actress Sarah Gadon, who won the Canadian Screen Award for best dramatic miniseries actress in Alias Grace, to develop a light Northern Irish accent that changed “My goal is to have the actor comfortable as the character aged. “We pitched the voice higher enough to stop thinking about the accent at all when she’s younger. When so it becomes part of her DNA.” she is older and reflecting back on her life, we slowed her pace down. That gave a “The goal of an accent is to create authenticity, certain gravitas to that voice. She was not prunnot to be a distraction that takes away from the ing the endings of words. She was not dropping performance,” says Tyne. “My goal is to have the her -ings. Her middle-aged voice was in between. actor comfortable enough to stop thinking about It was casual and fluid, less precise and articulate the accent at all so it becomes part of her DNA.” than her older self. So on top of learning the diaTyne’s approach to coaching is methodical. Aflect, we layered different elements in it.” ter meeting with the director to decide on a diTyne was fascinated with accents from an earrection for the dialect, Tyne dives into extensive ly age. Born in Tennessee, she moved to London research. She collects audio samples of the desired when she was nine. There, she was intrigued by accent through movies, interviews, podcasts, rathe dozens of regional accents and made a hobby dio shows, and recordings of living people. She of trying to replicate them. At Duke, she began to then teaches herself the accent. listen carefully to all the accents she heard and to Coaching starts four to six weeks before filmreflect on her own use of dialect as an American ing begins. Tyne works with the actor to mark up raised in London living in North Carolina. the script, rewriting words as the actor might hear After graduating from Duke, Brett started as a them in the new accent. “Sam,” for an American, production assistant on major films. While workmight become “Saym” or “Saem” in an English ing on the movie Vanity Fair, she watched the diaccent. Tyne adds diagonal squiggly lines to note alect coach work with the actors and thought, “I inflection and markings on consonants to indicate want to do what she does.” Soon after, she began emphasis. If an actor is struggling with a certain her master’s in voice studies at the Royal Central sound, Tyne will make up targeted practice sheets School of Speech and Drama in London. of words and sentences to do intensive drilling. As an American living in London, Brett finds Each project brings its own particular chalthat her work often focuses on helping British ac-


Louise Samuelsen

tors speak with American accents and American actors speak with British accents. “I’ve created a general American and Southern accent tutorial,” says Tyne. “It’s a cheat sheet of sorts that outlines the rhythm, tune, musicality, consonant shifts, and the vowel extensions of each accent. It would get an actor through an audition.”

Of course, it’s rarely that easy. Tyne has been known to dance, stomp, and even draw an accent for an actor. “The process of watching an actor inhabit an accent and layer in the performance, so that the two become one, is positively exhilarating to watch,” says Tyne. “I love what I do, and I feel very lucky to do it.”—Sarah Robertson ’97




A story to tell


ilm producer, director, and writer Neil Creque Williams ’06 wanted to make movies by the time he was seven, when in second grade, his teacher let him show his home videos during lunchtime. “I watched a lot of animation—Little Mermaid, Lion King—and just wanting to watch behind the scenes, like how did they animate it? I was just fascinated by that stuff,” Williams recalls. “You get wrapped up in the technology—if we had this, I could do that—and eventually you realize, no, none of those things. You tell a story.” At Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies, “the spirit of sitting with people and just hearing their stories was embedded in me,” Williams says. And at Duke’s Multimedia Project Studio, where the production of multimedia, audio, and video content is done, you could “find your playgrounds creatively.” Years later, at a time of unrest and reflection, Williams finds himself drawn to telling stories of people who have shown their resilience. “Those stories have always inspired me. Like the family stories of people having to go to a vet for dental care because you couldn’t go into the segregated dentist,” he says. “What toll does that have psychologically on you? What toll does that have forty years later? Those are the kinds of things I want to see more stories of. “The thing I’m really focused on is that there are so many stories that are


from the African-American experience that are about resilience and about people making their way that need to be told.” His David’s Reverie is a 2016 short about a jazz musician struggling to prevent his epilepsy diagnosis from derailing his emerging career. It was nominated for awards given by film festivals in Los Angeles and San Francisco. And he co-produced the 2020 film Miss Juneteenth, which connects to the annual commemoration of the ending of slavery in America. It was written and produced by his wife and creative partner, Channing Godfrey Peoples. In the drama, Turquoise Jones, a former beauty queen and single mom, prepares her rebellious teenage daughter for the Miss Juneteenth pageant. The New York Times described the film as exploring “how [B]lack women and girls support each other in a world that often fails them.” “My brain, really, with Juneteenth and with other projects, is really trying to dig deeper into those stories that I may have heard once from my grandmother,” Williams says. “But it’s like, wait, this actually was a really important story for how to navigate a certain time. Let’s dig into that and see how that is playing out today.” As he looks for more stories to tell, Williams offers this advice for future artists: “If you’re interested in the arts, just jump in. You never know which lecture or the film screening or the art class you take on a whim may plant a seed.” —Tom Kertscher

“Those stories have always inspired me. Like the family stories of people having to go to a vet for dental care because you couldn’t go into the segregated dentist.” PRIZED: “Miss Juneteenth” received two Gotham Independent Film Awards nominations.

Courtesy Katrina Wan PR



ForeverDuke In Memoriam 1940s

Celeste Clinkscales Hart ’41 of Frederick, Md., on Aug. 27, 2020. Edyth Hull Schoenrich ’41 of Baltimore, on Sept. 12, 2020. Nancy Carver Rouzer Alexander ’42 of Asheville, N.C., on July 3, 2020. Charles E. Kernodle Jr., M.D. ’42 of Burlington, N.C., on Sept. 26, 2020. Martha Richards Dedwylder ’43 of Columbus, Ga., on Sept. 17, 2020. Muriel Baylin Hyman ’43 of Meriden, Conn., on Aug. 31, 2020. Alan M. Silverbach ’43 of Bel Air, Calif., on June 2, 2020. Virginia Currier Stickney ’43 of West Stewartstown, N.H., on July 1, 2020. Margaret Nason Croft ’44 of Cocoa Beach, Fla., on June 26, 2020. William M. Bond ’45 of Silver Spring, Md., on Sept. 24, 2020. Alice Cline Boyd ’45 of Richmond, Va., on Aug. 31, 2020. George P. Clark Jr. ’45 of Colfax, N.C., on July 2, 2020. Josephine Anne Paty Jones ’45 of Richmond, Va., on June 22, 2020. Mary Frances Gossett Lackey ’45 of Moncks Corner, S.C., on Aug. 11, 2020. Carl J. Lange Ph.D. ’45 of Williamsburg, Va., on May 31, 2020. Betty Rhoad Lilly ’45 of Columbia, S.C., on Sept. 11, 2020. Jean Horsley Nicholson ’45 of Fairfax, Va., on July 2, 2020. Ralph P. Rogers Jr. ’45 of Durham, on Aug. 17, 2020. Herbert Rudinoff ’45 of Pennsville, N.J., on June 17, 2020. Robert N. Saunders ’45 of Lakeland, Fla., on Sept. 19, 2020. Margaret Obermaier Spangler ’45 of Davenport, Iowa, on July 11, 2020. John F. Strahan ’45 of Baltimore, on July 12, 2020.

Garth Walker ’45 of Orlando, Fla., on June 20, 2020. Andrew Cella Jr. ’46 of Whiting, N.J., on June 1, 2020. Raymond O. McDonald Jr. ’46 of Tampa, Fla., on June 16, 2020. Nancy Brown McKee ’46 of Hillsborough, N.C., on July 16, 2020. Harold A. Scheraga Ph.D. ’46 of Ithaca, N.Y., on Aug. 1, 2020. Florence Craig Bunn ’47 of Stanhope, N.C., on July 23, 2020. Robert R. Gardner ’47, J.D. ’50 of Raleigh, on Aug. 11, 2020. William A. Siebenheller ’47 of Transylvania, N.C., on June 13, 2020. Hannah Norris Wooters ’47 of Columbus, Ga., on Aug. 14, 2020. Helen Percilla Barnhart ’48 of Rockford, Ill., on July 27, 2020. Margaret Colvin Chapman ’48 of Chapel Hill, on Sept. 10, 2020. Nancy S. Hamilton ’48 of Vancouver, Wash., on June 20, 2020. George E. Midgett ’48 of Largo, Fla., on Aug. 27, 2020. Jo Patton Sarazen ’48 of Shelby, N.C., on Sept. 27, 2020. Joseph A. Sousa ’48 of Pinehurst, N.C., on July 10, 2020. James H. Stallings Jr. ’48 of Rehoboth Beach, Del., on July 15, 2020. Shirley Field Berry ’49 of Charlotte, on July 15, 2020. Eleanor Vail Cook ’49 of Port Isabel, Texas, on Aug. 28, 2020. Walter P. Hardee Jr. ’49 of Raleigh, on Aug. 20, 2020. Ruth Kendall Huiet ’49 of Charlotte, on June 27, 2020. Sheila Lewis Lehrburger ’49 of Denver, on June 23, 2020. Henry L. McLeod Jr. ’49 of Laurinburg, N.C., on Sept. 16, 2020.


a future impact.

(919) 613-1508

There’s a flexible way to ensure your impact far into the future. Including Duke in your will or estate plan through a charitable bequest secures permanent support for Duke and provides the university security in times of crisis. To discover how, visit:

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MORE DUKE MEMORIES ONLINE Find links to full obituaries for Duke alumni at Thomas W. Seay Jr. ’49, J.D. ’52 of Spencer, N.C., on Sept. 15, 2020.


John W. Becker ’50 of Sandy Springs, Ga., on July 28, 2020. Ann Caskey Brotherton A.M. ’50 of Charleston, W.Va., on Sept. 7, 2020. Edwin E. Foreman ’50, M.F. ’56 of Seminole, Fla., on July 29, 2020. Howard C. Heiss Jr. ’50 of Baltimore, on Sept. 14, 2020. Claude D. Holland ’50 of Raleigh, on July 14, 2020. Constance Green Mitchell ’50 of Newport News, Va., on Aug. 23, 2020. Robert J. Schwarz ’50 of Sea Girt, N.J., on Aug. 24, 2020. Patricia Meloy Scott ’50 of Cleveland, on Oct. 7, 2020. Quincy J. Sutton Jr. ’50 of Glen Allen, Va., on Sept. 29, 2020. Daniel H. Caldwell ’51 of Blytheville, Tenn., on July 6, 2020. Luther J. Carter ’51 of Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26, 2020. Arthur C. Christakos ’51 of Cary, N.C., on June 5, 2020. Lillian Willingham Currin ’51 of Pinehurst, N.C., on June 26, 2020. Thomas D. Donegan A.M. ’51 of Jacksonville, Fla., on July 14, 2020. James S. Kersey ’51 of North Richland Hills, Texas, on July 8, 2020. Lewis P. Klein Jr. ’51 of Lansdale, Pa., on July 26, 2020. Robert F. Millard ’51 of Bristol, Tenn., on Sept. 22, 2020. Joyce Herndon Mitchell ’51 of Durham, on June 26, 2020. Carol Cleaveland Stewart ’51 of Mulberry Point, Md., on July 14, 2020. Maxine C. Birckhead Atkins M.R.E. ’52 of Geneseo, Ill., on Aug. 28, 2020. Joanne Britt Bean ’52 of Fayetteville, N.C., on Sept. 9, 2020. Claude E. Edwards Jr. ’52 of Pensacola, Fla., July 1, 2020. Walter B. Geiger M.F. ’52 of Savannah, Ga., on Sept. 20, 2020. Joyce McAfee Martin ’52 of Macon, Ga., on June 21, 2020. Kathryn McCullough Montgomery B.S.N. ’52 of Big Canoe, Ga., on Sept. 23, 2020. John M. Pitman Jr. ’52 of Williamsburg, Va., on Aug. 22, 2020. Mary Flanders Sykes ’52 of Englewood, Fla., on Aug. 21, 2020. Perry A. Tucker ’52 of Pinehurst, N.C., on July 26, 2020. Billy R. Bland ’53 of Spartanburg, S.C., on Sept. 13, 2020. Truett A. Grant ’53 of High Point, N.C., on June 7, 2020. Forrest E. Nelson B.S.C.E. ’53 of Charlotte, on Aug. 24, 2020. Marilyn Black Nuttle ’53 of Baltimore, on Aug. 6, 2020. Frederick W. Sarles B.S.E.E. ’53 of Rhinebeck, N.Y., on July 14, 2020. Mays Beal Stott ’53 of Gastonia, N.C., on July 20, 2020. Richard L. Hunter ’54 of Williamsburg, Va., on June 21, 2020. Wallace H. Kirby B.Div. ’54 of Asheville, N.C., on Sept. 12, 2020. Warren P. Leibfried ’54 of Jacksonville, Fla., on Sept. 6, 2020. Sheldon Losin M.D. ’54 of Glen Ellen, Calif., on July 5, 2020. William D. McRoy Jr. ’54 of Raleigh, on Sept. 11, 2020. George H. Pierson Jr. M.D. ’54, H ’54, H ’55 of Greensboro, N.C., on July 24, 2020. Joseph B. Ray ’54 of Mobile, Ala., on May 30, 2020. Lawrence G. Thorne ’54, M.D. ’58 of Houston, on June 12, 2020. Dominic A. Vivona ’54 of Mount Pleasant, S.C., on Aug. 4, 2020. Robert H. Beber ’55, J.D. ’57 of Boca Raton, Fla., on June 6, 2020. Hubert E. Caulfield ’55 of St. Petersburg, Fla., June 14, 2020. Gordon M. Forbes ’55 of Toms River, N.J., on June 25, 2020. David A. Friedman ’55, LL.B. ’57 of Lawrenceville, N.J., on June 6, 2020. D’Este Whitted Hanson ’55 of West Manchester Township, Pa., on June 23, 2020.

Dorothy McClure Koster ’55 of Ellijay, Ga., on July 20, 2020. Carl D. Monk ’55 of Athens, Ga., on July 1, 2020. James G. Murray Ph.D. ’55 of Middlebury, Vt., on June 28, 2020. Jerry C. Pence ’55 of Louisville, Ky., on Sept. 18, 2020. David B. Perkins ’55 of Sewickley, Pa., on July 19, 2020. Mary Bovard Sensenbrenner B.S.N. ’55 of Neenah, Wis., on June 7, 2020. Malcolm R. Chitty ’56 of New Bern, N.C., on Aug. 22, 2020. Henry C. Ferrell Jr. ’56, A.M. ’57 of Greenville, N.C., on Aug. 21, 2020. Robert L. Johannessen ’56 of Richmond, Va., on June 1, 2020. Mary Anne Facemire McLellan B.S.N.Ed. ’56 of Pittsburgh, on July 4, 2020. Carolyn Austin Pardoe ’56 of Vinalhaven, Maine, on July 16, 2020. John C. Rudisill B.S.E.E. ’56 of Hanover, Pa., on Aug. 25, 2020. Melvin Spira H ’56-’59 of Carlsbad, Calif., on Oct. 8, 2020. Owen C. Wilson Jr. ’56 of Whitnel, N.C., on Aug. 4, 2020. Martha Mahanes Claxton ’57 of Weaverville, N.C., on July 31, 2020. Christia Hunt Davis R.N. ’57 of Danville, Va., on Sept. 28, 2020. James G.B. Falk ’57 of White Mills, Pa., on July 8, 2020. A. Merle Harrington ’57 of Salisbury, N.C., on June 14, 2020. Harry S. Havens ’57 of Alexandria, Va., on Aug. 31, 2020.

The Iron Dukes is known for building champions in athletic competition, in the classroom, and in the community. To continue our trajectory of excellence, we must continue to provide the necessary support for the future successes of our su world class student-athletes. Now is the time to make investments that will build champions. @theirondukes The Iron Dukes The Iron Dukes theirondukes Daniel Jones ´20, Football, Redshirt Sophomore

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When you and the world are ready for travel, Duke Travels will be ready with a travel experience that excels in the new era of travel.

DUKE. WE TRAVEL SMART. Visit www. to learn about what we and our partners are doing for the environment and your safety. Photos courtesy of iStock

2021 TRAVEL DESTINATIONS Dutch Waterways, April 5-13 Discovering Portugal, April 21 - May 3 Flavors of Northern Italy, May 8-16 Seine River & Normandy, May 23-31 Discovering Provence, May 24 - June 4 Barging: Amsterdam to Bruges, May 26 - June 3 Legendary Turkey, May 28 - June 11 Scottish Isles & Norway’s Fjords, May 30 - June 7 Apulia, June 2-10 Swiss Alps & Italian Lakes, June 15-24 Norwegian Splendor, July 5-20 Circumnavigation of Iceland, July 15-23 Scotland during the Tatoo, Aug. 7-16 Undiscovered Ireland, Sept. 25 - Oct 6 Croatia & Slovenia, Sept. 30 - Oct. 14 Flavors of Chianti, Oct. 7-15 Grand Danube Passage, Oct. 9-24 Greece & the Greek Isles, Oct. 11-19

Toronto to Vancouver by Rail, June 1-7 Exploring Alaska, July 25 - Aug 1 Railways of New England, Sept. 23-28 Cruising the Great Lakes, Sept 30 - Oct 7 Columbia & Snake Rivers, Oct. 17-24

Galápagos, July 2-11 Treasures of Peru, Aug. 9-19 Panama & Colombia, Nov. 13-20

Insider’s Japan, April 3-15 Israel: Timeless Wonders, April 29 - May 10 Central Asia’s Silk Road, May 11-27 Trans-Siberian Railway, July 11-24 Israel (2nd departure), Oct. 2-13

Wildlife in Southern Africa, June 2-15 Magical Madagascar, June 6-23 Classic Safari, July 25-Aug. 9 Tanzania, Sept. 2-15 Morocco, Sept. 14-27 Ethiopa, Oct. 1-15 Jordan, Egypt & Greece, Nov. 2-15

Total Solar Eclipse in Antarctica, Nov. 27 - Dec. 10

Australia & New Zealand, Sept. 18 - Oct. 9

**Please note that departures and dates are subject to final confirmation.**

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ForeverDuke Marvin M. Moore J.D. ’57, LL.M ’60, S.J.D. ’68 of Akron, Ohio, on June 11, 2020. Samuel E. Myrick Jr. M.D. ’57 of Jacksonville, Fla., on Aug. 2, 2020. Owen Reese Jr. M.D. ’57, H ’57, H ’58 of Roswell, Ga., on July 6, 2020. John M. Roberts H ’57, H ’58, H ’63 of New London, N.H., on Aug. 8, 2020. William F. Rouse ’57, M.B.A. ’74 of Durham, on Aug. 28, 2020. Louis A. Schwarz III ’57 of Franklin Lakes, N.J., on June 1, 2020. Thomas A. Baylis ’58 of Madison, Wis., on Sept. 4, 2020. Linda Kersey Blazer ’58 of Lancaster, Pa., on Aug. 21, 2020. C. Herbert Chittum B.S.M.E. ’58 of Kennesaw, Ga., on July 30, 2020. Martha Speight Erbach B.S.N. ’58 of Fishers Hill, Va., on Oct. 2, 2020. Ann Gunn Everitt ’58 of Yanceyville, N.C., on Sept. 10, 2020. Robert A. Fischer H ’58, H ’59, H ’60 of Santa Clarita, Calif., on Sept. 30, 2020. Joan Goforth M.A.T. ’58 of Rutherfordton, N.C., on July 11, 2020. James C. Hurlburt M.D. ’58, H ’58-’60, H ’62-’64 of Orlando, Fla., on July 4, 2020. Shirley Davis Martin ’58, M.S.N. ’60 of Burgaw, N.C., on July 10, 2020. Charles O. Pratt III ’58 of Dumfries, Va., on July 9, 2020. W. Daniel Rountree ’58 of Fort Myers, Fla., on Aug. 3, 2020. Kenneth D. Adcock ’59 of Highlands, N.C., on Sept. 19, 2020. Nancy Keever Andersen ’59 of Charlotte, on June 22, 2020. Charles L. Bassett B.S.M.E. ’59 of Midlothian, Va., on Oct. 5, 2020. Sue Hancock Bradford ’59 of Charleston, W.Va., on Sept. 12, 2020. Herschel A. Caldwell Jr. ’59 of Durham, on Sept. 22, 2020. Henri Clarke H ’59-’63 of Beaumont, Texas, on Aug. 20, 2020. Richard G. Cornwell ’59 of Charlotte, on May 30, 2020. George F. Dutrow ’59, M.F. ’60, Ph.D. ’70 of Chapel Hill, on Sept. 23, 2020. Nancy Hiss Holsinger ’59 of Normal, Ill., on June 25, 2020. Mark Kase M.Div. ’59, Th.M. ’69 of St. Simons Island, Ga., on June 30, 2020. Sarah Hollar Lyerly M.Ed. ’59 of Hickory, N.C., on Aug. 7, 2020. Marian Irons Rose ’59 of New Canaan, Conn., on June 20, 2020. John S. Slye ’59 of Tallahassee, Fla., on Aug. 21, 2020. Donald E. Teller ’59 of Dallas, on Sept. 27, 2020. Charles R. Yengst B.S.E.E. ’59 of Wilton, Conn., on Aug. 25, 2020.


Rodney C. Brown B.Div. ’60, Th.M. ’64 of Durham, on Aug. 4, 2020. Duane F. Bowman ’60 of Fitchburg, Wis., on Oct. 19, 2020. Lynn Fort III M.D. ’60 of Charlotte, on June 2, 2020. R. Brent Harrison ’60, M.D. ’63 of Jackson, Miss., on Sept. 6, 2020. David H. Sixbey M.A.T. ’60 of Flippin, Ark., on July 5, 2020. Prudence Fraley Strong ’60 of Greensboro, N.C., on Aug. 23, 2020. Addria Proctor Capps ’61 of Hickory, N.C., on July 3, 2020. William F. Deverell H ’61-’65 of Colorado Springs, Colo., on June 11, 2020. John E. Merryman M.D. ’61 of Riverdale, Ga., on Oct. 1, 2020. Leonard G. Pardue III ’61 of Asheville, N.C., on Oct. 1, 2020. Faye Branham Sharpe ’61 of Raleigh, on July 9, 2020. Harry H. Summerlin Jr. M.D. ’61 of Asheville, N.C., on Aug. 9, 2020. Virginia Roberts Watson ’61 of Durham, on Aug. 2, 2020. Joe B. Currin Jr. H ’62, H ’63, H ’64, H ’65 of Fuquay-Varina, N.C., on Aug. 11, 2020. Thomas A. Mackey A.M. ’62 of Santa Barbara, Calif., on July 20, 2020. Judith Stephenson Schilling Ph.D. ’62 of Miamisburg, Ohio, on Sept. 2, 2020. John H. Taylor ’62 of Wilmington, Del., on June 26, 2020.


William B. Waddell M.D. ’62, H ’62-’64 of Bald Head Island, N.C., on Aug. 24, 2020. Margaret A. Bird A.M. ’63 of Huntington, W.Va., on Sept. 17, 2020. Hazel Hall Burger M.Ed. ’63 of Albany, Ga., on Sept. 5, 2020. Joel Grossman ’63 of Miami, on July 18, 2020. Donald L. Hand ’63 of Clearwater, Fla., on July 22, 2020. Ashley S. James Jr. ’63 of Greensboro, N.C., on Sept. 5, 2020. John D. Kirkland Jr. A.M. ’63, Ph.D. ’65 of Columbia, S.C., on Aug. 11, 2020. Frank C. Myers ’63 of Florala, Ala., on Sept. 29, 2020. James C. Posey ’63 of Greensboro, N.C., on July 2, 2020. Jean Dinsmore Stafford ’63 of Greensboro, N.C., on Oct. 3, 2020. Barrie Bergman ’64 of Santa Barbara, Calif., on Sept. 11, 2020. Dempsey S. Brown Jr. ’64 of Macon, Ga., on June 16, 2020. Stanley C. Brown ’64 of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on June 12, 2020. Frank B. Gray ’64, H ’69-’71, H ’73-’77 of Knoxville, Tenn., on May 29, 2020. Theodore F. Rochow A.M. ’64, Ph.D. ’68 of Spring Hill, Fla., on June 26, 2020. Wayne R. Smith M.Div. ’64 of Willow Spring, N.C., on May 28, 2020. David Stollwerk ’64 of Franklin, N.Y., on June 1, 2020. Kent M. Weeks LL.B ’64 of Nashville, Tenn., on July 30, 2020. James W. Williams ’64 of Birmingham, Mich., on Oct. 2, 2020. Kenneth S. Bridgeman ’65, J.D. ’72 of Spokane, Wash., on Aug. 22, 2020. James H. Broussard A.M. ’65, Ph.D. ’68 of Annville, Pa., on Aug. 10, 2020. Robert E. Comas M.Ed. ’65 of Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Aug. 30, 2020. Daniel T. Earnhardt B.Div. ’65, Th.M. ’66 of Greenville, N.C., on July 30, 2020. Jan M. Evans ’65 of Signal Mountain, Tenn., on Sept. 9, 2020. Julia A. Hensley ’65 of Rutherfordton, N.C., on Sept. 19, 2020. James M. Kellogg ’65 of Mount Desert Island, Maine, on June 12, 2020. Eugenia Lamont ’65 of Laurinburg, N.C., on June 18, 2020. Philip S. Shailer LL.B ’65 of Hollywood, Fla., on Aug. 22, 2020. John S. Shrauger Ph.D. ’65 of Sarasota, Fla., on June 14, 2020. Rufus B. Turner Ed.D ’65 of Buies Creek, N.C., on Aug. 19, 2020. Lyon G. Tyler Jr. A.M. ’65, Ph.D. ’67 of Franklin, Tenn., on Sept. 26, 2020. Susan E. Jones Finley ’66 of Chagrin Falls Township, Ohio, on June 9, 2020. Margaret Stanley Gosling ’66 of Los Alamos, N.Mex., on Aug. 4, 2020. Devereaux F. McClatchey IV LL.B. ’66 of Atlanta, on July 11, 2020. William J. McNally III ’66 of Thetford, Vt., on Aug. 25, 2020. Jean Armistead Moorefield M.A.T. ’66 of Richmond, Va., on Aug. 27, 2020. Thomas A. Newby Jr. ’66 of Raleigh, on Sept. 17, 2020. William W. Newman Th.M. ’66 of Cody, Texas, on July 28, 2020. Clifford W. Perry Jr. ’66 of Winston-Salem, on June 29, 2020. Brian A. Snow J.D. ’66 of Centennial, Colo., on Aug. 29, 2020. Calvin J. Collier LL.B. ’67 of Charlottesville, Ill., on Oct. 6, 2020. Andrew C. Cox Ph.D. ’67 of Norman, Okla., on July 5, 2020. Edgar H. Ellis Jr. M.Div. ’67 of Columbia, S.C., on July 18, 2020. Rufus W. Head M.D. ’67 of North Bridgton, Maine, June 18, 2020. Thomas V. Nield ’67 of Concord, Mass., on July 31, 2020. William S. Rawson Ph.D. ’67 of Davidson, N.C., on July 16, 2020. D. Michael Romano ’67 of Tucson, Ariz., on June 21, 2020. Alfred K. Ross ’67 of Arlington, Va., on July 2, 2020. Katharine Flory Fox ’68 of Birkenhead, England, on July 26, 2020. Alan H. Gradman ’68 of Pittsburgh, on Oct. 1, 2020. Carolyn Bond Morrison M.Ed. ’68, Ed.D. ’79 of Raleigh, on July 26, 2020.

Carolyn Norton Padgette ’68 of Raleigh, on July 15, 2020. Richard A. Schwarz A.M. ’68, Ph.D. ’70 of Akron, Ohio, on July 5, 2020. Anne Johnston Baade A.M. ’69 of Austin, Texas, on July 6, 2020. Marcia Mahaffey Leversee ’69 of Keene, N.H., on Aug. 23, 2020. Walter J. McNamara III J.D. ’69 of Concord Township, Ohio, on Sept. 21, 2020. Joseph P. Metz ’69 of Flushing, Mich., on Oct. 16, 2020. Danny O. Rose ’69 of Allen, Texas, on Sept. 5, 2020. Cora Sleighter Stackelberg M.A.T. ’69 of East Greenbush, N.Y., on Sept. 5, 2020. Richard E. Weaver Jr. A.M. ’69, Ph.D. ’71 of Lebanon, Pa., on June 7 , 2020.


Murray D. Arndt Ph.D. ’70 of Greensboro, N.C., on Aug. 30, 2020. George K. Harwell ’70 of Birmingham, Ala., on July 27, 2020. Richard B. Hemmes Ph.D. ’70 of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on Aug. 22, 2020. Mary Reginald Gerdes M.A.T. ’71 of Baltimore, on Sept. 7, 2020. Maricel Lopez Hahn M.Ed. ’71 of Washington, D.C., on Aug. 30, 2020. Craig A. Keplinger ’71, M.S. ’73 of Coralville, Iowa, on July 15, 2020. Willard W. Olney III Th.M. ’71 of Asheville, N.C., on June 29, 2020. Jim R. Paschall A.M. ’71 of Naples, Fla., on June 10, 2020. John E. Bickel Jr. ’72 of Owensboro, Ky., on Sept. 15, 2020. Henry R. Currin Jr. B.S.E.E. ’72 of Lillington, N.C., on June 11, 2020. William D. Ketner Ed.D. ’72 of Burlington, N.C., on Oct. 8, 2020.


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ForeverDuke Jeffrey S. Miller ’72 of Jacksonville, N.C., on July 30, 2020. Jane Walters Ph.D. ’72 of Memphis, Tenn., on Aug. 19, 2020. Steven L. Woodall ’72, M.F. ’74 of Stone Mountain, Ga., on June 1, 2020. Katherine M. World ’72 of Durham, on July 3, 2020. Joseph C. Bosch ’73 of Glen Rock, N.J., on Aug. 13, 2020. Robert R. Jones Ed.D. ’73 of Matthews, N.C., on Aug. 4, 2020. Donald Hayse Roberts M.Div. ’73, Th.M. ’74 of Roanoke, Va., on July 26, 2020. James E. Sarn M.D. ’73 of Sedona, Ariz., on July 22, 2020. John A. Vernon ’73 of Chapel Hill, on Sept. 20, 2020. Frank B. Miller H ’74, H ’75, H ’76, H ’77 of Asheville, N.C., on July 30, 2020. Roberdeau D. Simmons ’74, M.D. ’78 of Fort Myers, Fla., on Sept. 24, 2020. James A. Buckingham H ’75, H ’76, H ’77, H ’78 of Nacogdoches, Texas, on Aug. 24, 2020. Timothy J. DeBaets J.D. ’75 of Los Angeles, on Sept. 27, 2020. Margaret Phelps Manring ’75 of Hillsborough, N.C., on July 2, 2020. Stephen D. Milner ’75 of Greenville, S.C., on July 7, 2020. Vardell E. Nesmith Jr. A.M. ’75, Ph.D. ’77 of Norfolk, Va., on June 26, 2020. Paula J. Romano Ph.D. ’75 of Wyndmoor, Pa., on Aug. 30, 2020. Daniel L. Durway Ph.D. ’76 of Raleigh, on July 7, 2020. Stuart J. Heyman ’76 of Virginia Beach, Va., on Sept. 12, 2020. Stockton Miller-Jones ’76, Ph.D. ’80 of Cave Creek, Ariz., on Aug. 18, 2020. Celeste Gill Stevens ’76 of Hinsdale, Ill., on Sept. 21, 2020. Vickie L. Price ’77 of Roanoke, Va., on July 5, 2020. Beth J. Soldo Ph.D. ’77 of Washington, D.C., on May 28, 2020. Laurie Waltz ’77 of Akron, Ohio, on June 29, 2020. Lorace O. Jones Thomas Ed.D. ’78 of Broadway, N.C., on Sept. 12, 2020. John A. Towers ’78 of Atlanta, on Aug. 26, 2020. Robert H. Cassell Ph.D. ’79, M.D. ’79 of Winter Haven, Fla., on June 30, 2020. Mary Jo Beam McCalley ’79 of Atlanta, on Oct. 13, 2020.

John W. Matthews III A.M. ’93 of Sarasota, Fla., on June 30, 2020. John N. Landi A.M. ’94 of Burlington, N.C., on Oct. 5, 2020. Robert L. Martin, M.H.S. ’94 of East Lyme, Conn., on June 3, 2020. Bradley William Rubin ’94 of Durham, June 12, 2020. Carrie E. Schliemann ’94 M.B.A. ’01 of San Francisco, on June 30, 2020. Jonathan M. Williams B.S.E.E. ’94 of Chapel Hill, on Sept. 1, 2020. Richard A. Jenkins Ph.D. ’96 of Memphis, Tenn., on June 20, 2020. Kristin Olivia-Fromal ’97 of Warrington, Pa., on July 28, 2020. Sheila Dreiling St. Amour M.S. ’97 of Laramie, Wyo., on Oct. 13, 2020. Joseph A. Miller ’99 of Charlotte, on July 17, 2020.


Michael J. Norman ’02 of Whispering Pines, N.C., on Aug. 18, 2020. Ryan McKeithan Drescher ’04 of Virginia Beach, Va., on Aug. 8, 2020. Michael J. Gabriel M.B.A. ’06 of Souderton, Pa., on July 31, 2020. Alexander B. Gibson ’07 of Southern Pines, N.C., on Oct. 9, 2020.


Michael D. Worsman ’10 of Durham, on Sept. 18, 2020. Keith F. Gustine M.Div. ’12 of Oak Ridge North, Texas, on June 6, 2020. Matthew R. Strickland M.S. ’12 of Raleigh, on July 27, 2020. Andrew Perrin J.D. ’13 of New York, on Sept. 12, 2020.

Unique to Duke. Unique in the World.


Milton H. Gonzales Jr. M.B.A. ’80 of Berkeley Heights, N.J., on July 6, 2020. Andrew L. Kirby B.S.E. ’80 of Greenwich, Conn., on July 14, 2020. Alan E. Seyfer H ’80 of San Antonio on Oct. 7, 2020. John S. Cloninger M.Div. ’82 of York, S.C., on Sept. 29, 2020. John R. Wimmer M.Div. ’82 of Indianapolis, on June 24, 2020. Michael A. Tucker ’85 of Greenville, N.C., on June 7, 2020. Kevin B. Sharer H ’85, H ’86, H ’87, H ’88 of Tucson, Ariz., on July 9, 2020. Alexandra D. Korry J.D. ’86 of Westport, Conn., on Sept. 29, 2020. Steven Eric Landis ’86 of Carlisle, Pa., on July 29, 2020. Cynthia Cosimano Daugherty ’87 of Charlotte, on Aug. 30, 2020. Andrew T. Gregg ’87 of San Francisco, on June 12, 2020. Jeffrey L. Sparks M.B.A. ’87 of Rock Hill, S.C., on Sept. 24, 2020. Elizabeth Overbaugh Dean A.M. ’88 of Raleigh, on Aug. 13, 2020. Ted B. Owen ’89 of New York on Oct. 16, 2020.

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Stephen A. White M.B.A. ’90 of Newtown, Conn., on July 13, 2020. Bobby Ray Best M.Div. ’91 of Wilson, N.C., on Aug. 2, 2020. Milton S. Clark Jr. A.M. ’91 of Goldsboro, N.C., on Oct. 7, 2020. Charles S. Detrizio J.D. ’91 of Caldwell, N.J., on June 27, 2020. Art Aresh Hosseinian ’91 of Greensboro, N.C., on June 2, 2020.





Good Question

loves, losses, experiences and emotions. Does non-human life have loves, losses and emotions? New Zealand’s Māori people identify with the natural elements, seeing themselves as one with the Whanganui River. To resolve years of conflict between the Māori and New Zealand’s settlers, I am simultaneously a proponent of human English rights, an advocate for environmental justice, and, of the Māori and the late, an espouser of the rights of nature. Though these settlers reached empathic commitments are interwoven, they do not always cohabit an peacefully and are often considered disparate in our world understanding whereby the settlers finally agreed to of human exceptionalism. It is their interconnectedness translate this Māori perspective of the River as familial and that presents me with a challenging ethical question: an ancestor into something comprehensible to themselves: “How do we reckon with animal and environmental rights they granted legal personhood to the river. Through this legislation, not only is when urgent human rights legal recognition given to problems are everywhere?” the needs of the river for My research and its wholesome existence, career in human rights and but recognition and law proves that the short respect for the Māori answer is that we not only people is also conferred, should, but must, develop a affirming the intertwining commitment to recognizing of human rights with those the rights of other species of the natural world. This and the environment within example demonstrates our legal system. The a mutual obligation of interdependencies of the humans, animals, and ecosystems we inhabit make the environment to each recognition of their rights other. We must engage essential to the survival the known human of our own species. Legal capacity to empathize recognition is important in order to come to a because so much of human deeper appreciation of rights are enmeshed with the natural world and nature and because of what healthier connection with it requires of us. To confer each other. rights demands empathy. The effort to see, 2020 has been a year Photography: Scott Peters/Manda Hufstedler imagine, and understand of reckonings with COVID19’s gradual, well-graphed crescendo and the increased the life and needs of another is the essence of empathy. national support of the Black Lives Matter movement. In Understanding that all issues are interwoven is imperative. the midst of these recent human rights travesties, where By mustering the energy to empathize, the fundamental is the space for transspecies listening? Where is the connections among the human, animal, and environmental emotional and political energy to address concerns about collective experience become evident. I believe that if we animals, ecosystems, and the environment? That space seek to comprehend reality in this way, people, nature, and those energies must be found. We must not only find and animals will all benefit. the political will and expand our conceptual capacities to radically reform our systems of law enforcement, Senior Fellow, The Kenan Institute for Ethics healthcare provision, education access, and other human needs, we must also reimagine our relationship to the The Kenan Institute for Ethics is an interdisciplinary natural world. The entangled nature of human rights and “think and do” tank committed to understanding animal and environmental rights make so they cannot be and addressing real-world ethical challenges facing individuals, organizations, separated. Empathy, is the root of all of these projects. and societies worldwide. Learn more at Choosing to empathize requires a person to transcend oneself to see another in the vortex of their

An Exploration in Ethics

“How do we reckon with animal and environmental rights when urgent human rights problems are everywhere?”

Juliette Duara




Sarah Derris Senior



RITUAL: Stills from Derris’s film


any of my films grapple with identity—being Algerian, American, Muslim, notso-Muslim. I have had to reconcile Algeria’s colonial past and to understand that what it means to be Algerian is inextricably intertwined with French colonial history—within our language, cuisine, architecture—woven into the very material of our national identity. My project “False Chronology” explores the lingering French colonial consciousness in Algeria: the customs, ways of life, and landmarks that will outlast firsthand memory of French colonial rule. It also follows my grandmother, whose memory continues to fade by the day. My parents both belong to indigenous Berber groups, and I have had a longlasting fascination with Berber facial tattoos and the many Berber traditions that are fading from practice and memory. The last generation of Berber women with facial tattoos was born in the 1930s and 1940s, and the number of those women left is rapidly declining. Similarly, the Algiers my parents and grandparents knew is fading: The Catholic school my father attended, a remnant of French colonial rule, has been converted into a mosque. My grandfather’s neighborhood, The Casbah, once a central hub and trading center dating back to the Byzantine empire, has been slowly crumbling since the French-Algerian war due to a lack of infrastructural funding. These fading landmarks and traditions in post-colonial Algeria and my grandmother’s fading memory will be the focal point of this experimental documentary project and my memory-preservation efforts. n


Reunions is so much more than just one weekend. Don’t miss out on celebrating this important milestone.

shepherding scholars At Duke, nursing and engineering students have all the tools they will need to conquer the next big challenges in science and medicine. This is thanks to the generosity of donors like Diane L. Holditch-Davis, Ph.D., B.S.N.’73, FAAN, P’12 and her husband Mark Davis Ph.D., B.S.E.’73, P’12, who have made Duke the beneficiary of their IRAs.

Visit for more information about your class’ yearlong reunion experience

Finish the story at: Through gifts to the Annual Fund, planned giving and other contributions, the outrageously

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ambitious at Duke are forging an ever better world. What will you make possible?

CELEBRATING THE CLASSES OF: 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016

Can Duke really become anti-racist? p.22




Master of Environmental Management candidate and Orrin Pilkey Fellow Sarah Lipuma conducts research at the intersection of social equity and climate change. Sarah’s research is made possible by your unrestricted gifts of financial aid to the Nicholas School Annual Fund.

Finish the story at: Through gifts to the Annual Fund, planned giving and other contributions, the outrageously ambitious at Duke are forging an ever better world. What will you make possible?




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