Duke University Presidents
Duke University Presidents
Duke University traces its history back to a tiny schoolhouse in 1838. Since that time, the institution has been guided and changed by its leadership. As Duke inaugurates new president Vincent Price, this timeline offers a look back at the highs, lows, and extraordinary contributions of our presidents.
He describes the schoolhouse in his autobiography: "Early in the spring of 1838, I opened a school in a house known as Brown's Schoolhouse. . . . It was a very inferior building, built of round logs, and covered with common boards. The floor was laid with puncheons and slabs. . . . The hearth was dirt, and the whole in bad repair; for when it rained it was with difficulty that the books and papers could be kept dry. This house was entirely too small to accommodate the students; consequently we were necessitated to erect a bush arbor in front of the south door, and part of the students were under the arbor and part in the house."
The renaming reflected the formal acquisition of the College by the North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Gannaway worked to keep the school open as the war escalated, but shortages and inflation made his position difficult. The school closed between April 1865 and January 1866, during which time the war concluded.
Craven passed away after serving as the leader of the institution for 40 years.
Wood, an alumnus of Trinity, had served as a missionary in China. Wood faced a daunting task: he served as president of a financially tenuous institution, while he also "taught classes in metaphysics, logic, and theology, edited and supervised the printing of the college catalogue, aided in the upkeep of the campus, attended to all correspondence, tried to raise money for the College, took disciplinary measures against obstreperous boys, and lectured and preached throughout North Carolina."
The Board of Trustees refused to accept the resignation, and Wood reluctantly continued to serve as head of the college. Financial pressures mounted.
J. W. Alspaugh (President of the Board of Trustees), Julian Shakespeare Carr (Treasurer of the Board), and James A. Gray offered to lead the college for the next two years in order to financially strengthen the struggling school.
Crowell later recalled: "Inaugural procedure was simple, favored by the finest of June weather. Before a crowded house on the chapel stage, occupied by myself and Trustees, the President of the Board briefly introduced me, putting into my hand the disc-like seal of the College, thus transferring responsible authority and control. At that moment these eventfully crowded years began."
He personally cataloged each book in the new library, and established a dedicated library room and periodicals reading room.
Trinity found a new--and hopefully more financially stable--home in Durham, North Carolina, thanks to contributions from tobacco magnates Washington Duke and Julian Shakespeare Carr. Originallly set to open in 1891, the move was delayed until 1892 due to a building collapse shortly before the beginning of the 1891-92 school year.
The board of the Trinity refused his resignation, and Crowell agreed to stay on the understanding that the trustees issue a statement of public confidence in him, that the athletic policies be left out of the hands of trustees or the Methodist Church, and that additional money be made available for faculty salaries.
He was disappointed that the Western Conference of the Methodist Church, an entity that provided close oversight of the college, had recommended that intercollegiate athletics be stopped over his objections. The Board of Trustees of Trinity College tried to refuse Crowell's resignation, but he did not reconsider. Crowell later completed a PhD in economics at Columbia, and served as a finance expert and financial consultant outside of academia.
Previously, board members were chosen by current trustees, creating a self-perpetuating board. The change allowed alumni and members of the NC Conferences of the Methodist Church to elect trustees directly.
history professor John Spencer Bassett writes an editorial for the South Atlantic Quarterly describing Booker T. Washington as "the greatest man, save General Lee, born in the South in a hundred years." Outcry from the public and the media was swift and intense, and Bassett was prepared to resign his position. The Board gathered and issued a statement of support for Bassett's freedom to write what he chose. This defense of academic freedom was widely celebrated, and avoided the resignation of President Kilgo and the entire faculty, all of whom had letters of resignation prepared had the Board not defended Bassett.
The idea was inspired by a serious need for medical education in North Carolina. The president of UNC and the governor both supported the ideas, but alumni of both schools were concerned about sharing control of such a school. Trinity's Board of Trustees ultimately rejected the idea.
In addressing a "large throng" in Page Auditorium, Few urged the men of West Campus "to become builders--builders of colleges, builders of education, builders of causes--and so become useful and happy servants of humanity." The women students on East Campus were "made to realize that they have every right which the men possess. Those who present the proper requirements may enter any course on the men's campus."
The 77-year-old Flowers was offered a role as Chancellor, which would allow him to continue to be involved in Duke but make way for a new President.The Board later passed a resolution with a mandatory retirement age for officers of the university.
Funding was provided by Doris Duke, James B. Duke's only child.
The following month, the Trustees removed Prof. Paul M. Gross from his position as the university's chief academic officer. The "Gross-Edens Affair" was a major administrative crisis, one in which the administrators' competing visions for the future of the university were made public.
The Board of Trustees votes "to admit qualified applicants to degree programs in the undergraduate colleges without regard to race, creed, or national origin."The first five African-American undergraduates--Gene Kendall, Mary Mitchell, Wilhelmina Reuben, Cassandra Smith, and Nathaniel White, Jr.--enter in Fall 1963. Reuben, White, and Mitchell are shown here.
His first day was April 2, 1970, as he didn't want to start work on April Fools' Day.
Terry Sanford retires after over 15 years as Duke's president.
In Fall 1995, the class of 1999 becomes the first class to live as a group on East Campus. The plan is soon recognized as a model for other university campuses.
She writes, "The most pressing argument for extending these benefits is our desire to live up to our policy of nondiscrimination." With this directive, Duke becomes the first major university in the South to offer same-sex partner benefits.
The program is an initiative to focus Duke's community service efforts on the 12 neighborhoods nearest to Duke and the seven public schools that serve those neighborhoods.
The committee investigated the experiences of women faculty, staff, students, alumni, and trustees to better understand issues of concern to women at Duke.
The report noted that issues of bias, underrepresentation in faculty and leadership, and the undergraduates expressed that they felt under pressure to display "effortless perfection"--to do it all perfectly without showing any strain. One outcome of the report was the formation of the Baldwin Scholars program.
Three members of the Duke men's lacrosse team were accused of sexual assualt, putting Duke in the national spotlight and raising issues of race, gender, and class on campus and in Durham.
Jack Bovender, Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees, said of Price, "He is a transformative scholar, a dedicated educator and an experienced executive at a very complex institution not unlike Duke. His commitment to our values and to the mission of a great research university is inspiring. I could not be more excited to have him as our tenth president.” Price came to Duke from the University of Pennsylvania, where he served as Provost.