Dear Colleagues,

The start of a new academic year is a time of great anticipation at Duke.  Faculty, staff and students alike share news of their summer exploits.  Many of our colleagues are working to put the finishing touches on new facilities like The Hollows and the Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center.  And the summer campers at Duke who temporarily lowered the average age on campus by perhaps a decade have gone home, making way for our returning undergraduate, graduate and professional students and the great new class of 2023. 

We can only speculate about what the months to come will bring. A Bass Connections team might discover a primary source that opens a new page of our history. Perhaps we’ll see some new  discoveries that will save lives, a few more Rhodes Scholars, or even another Nobel Prize. Maybe the Blue Devils will win another national championship – or several!

For me, this time of year also brings a profound sense of gratitude for the opportunity I’ve been given to be a part of this inspiring Duke family.  Our achievements may garner the headlines, but it’s the countless everyday contributions of each person in our community that truly define us – and shape our future.

I’m thankful for those who have been here all summer: maintaining and renewing our beautiful campus, conducting research in our labs, caring for patients, and supporting our students and faculty in their endeavors. I’m grateful for those who have been representing Duke this summer across the globe, through internships and research projects and DukeEngage trips. I’m particularly grateful for those who are joining our university for the first time, and for all that you will contribute to our community in the months and years ahead.

As I told our first year students at convocation, the connections between us are what set Duke apart. In this spirit, as we look forward to the new academic year, I encourage you to reflect on how very much we rely on each other to be our best.  Find an opportunity this week to express your gratitude to a classmate, a teacher, a staff colleague, or a teammate.  Hold a door open, give a smile and a wave, let them know how much you value their being here.  You might make their day – and I anticipate they’ll be grateful for you as well.

Very best wishes for a wonderful year.

In gratitude,