Good evening! As President of Duke University, I am delighted to welcome you to the United States Capitol for the annual Sanford on the Hill celebration. I understand from Congressman Price that this event long predates my time at Duke – and perhaps even his time in Congress. I am honored to help carry on the tradition.

It is wonderful to see so many Dukies of all ages with us this evening. Not two weeks ago, I completed my first year as Duke President, so all of you – even the current students – have been a part of this community longer than I have.

The benefit of being a relative newbie is that it provides some opportunities for comparison. Durham, for instance, has much better winters than my previous institutions. Our dogs seem particularly to appreciate that.

Duke’s alums are more actively and passionately engaged than at our peer institutions. I think it’s either the lemurs or the basketball.

And one of the things I’ve found most striking: at Duke, we’ve forged a much stronger bond between our campus community and the policy world in DC. That relationship is a direct result of the active engagement of the Sanford School of Public Policy – which is one of our greatest assets as a university.

Between Duke in DC programming, the political and policy expertise of Sanford faculty, immersive learning opportunities, and our commitment to rigorous research methods, I strongly believe that Sanford provides the best policy education in the United States.

Now I have to admit that I am a little bit biased, as I am a member of the Sanford faculty … and President of the University.

At the same time, Sanford is helping Duke project its scholarship into the public policy conversation in Washington. We are working to build a first-in-class policy bridge between our academic work in Durham and policymakers and elected officials here in DC – the goal is to turn our innovative and rigorous research into solutions that can, in the words of James B. Duke, uplift our region and the world.

We have a wonderful program this evening, which we will be getting to very shortly. I know that we’re all excited to hear from our distinguished fellow Dukie, Judy Woodruff, about the latest goings on in the building where we’re sitting and the one a little ways down Pennsylvania Avenue.

But first, a special guest.

My first year was a period of transition for Duke, with three of our Deans either returning to the classroom or moving on to new roles. I am pleased to report that after nationwide searches, eight of our ten Deans are now women, including Kerry Abrams of Duke Law School, Toddi Steelman of the Nicholas School for the Environment, and tonight’s special guest, Judith Kelley of Sanford.

Many of you in this room know Judith Kelley from her 15 years as a Sanford professor, a role in which she mentored scores of Duke students and was awarded the Susan E. Tifft Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring Award and the Brownell-Whetten Award for Diversity and Inclusion.

Dean Kelley earned her undergraduate degree at Stanford and her M.P.P. and PhD from Harvard. She is a distinguished scholar of international efforts to promote democracy and prevent human trafficking, and she’s the author of three books and numerous articles. Since 2014, she has served as the Senior Associate Dean at the Sanford School, responsible for faculty and for research.

I have the utmost confidence that Dean Kelley will build on the progress made by Dean Brownell and lead the Sanford School to an even brighter future. Please join me in welcoming her.