Thank you all for the very warm welcome! As a father of two and veteran of many college family weekends, I know firsthand how proud you are of your Blue Devils. Annette and I are in our third year at Duke, so that makes us Juniors. And like our classmates, we love being a part of this remarkable academic community and the vibrant city of Durham.
And what an exciting time it is to be on this campus. Our students are hard at work in the classrooms and the library, and our fall sports teams are doing great. Activities and clubs are in full swing, the Brodhead Center is a bustling hub of student activity, and our vibrant arts program has a packed schedule of performances and openings throughout the fall.
Over the course of this weekend, you’ll hopefully hear directly from your students about the interesting and engaging classes they’re taking and the faculty members they’ve gotten to know. From the English department to the Engineering School, Duke professors are confronting the world’s most intractable problems, and our students have the remarkable opportunity to take part in that work as undergraduates. They are learning from and conducting research with the leading scholars in every field, and they are being challenged to think creatively about how to translate what they learn in the classroom to real-world problems.
As I say, it is an exciting time to be at Duke.
At the same time, we recognize more than ever that these opportunities can easily become overwhelming. That’s why we work every day to ensure that our undergraduates have the support they need to succeed at Duke and beyond. We want to demonstrate that wellness always comes before doing well—both in our time on campus and throughout our lives.
Focusing on wellness can mean the simplest things: taking some time off from studying to get ice cream with friends, throwing the frisbee out on Abel Quad, exercising at Brodie or Wilson, or—and I really want to emphasize this one—getting a full night’s sleep.
Seriously, we all need to get some sleep.
You may be surprised to hear that the data actually backs me up on this. In fact, earlier this month, researchers at MIT demonstrated a direct correlation between college students’ average hours of sleep and their average performance on quizzes and tests. Add that to the growing body of evidence showing the link between exercise and mental health, and you can understand why I’m such a believer in wellness.
We also recognize that your students can’t do it all on their own—that wellness is a collective responsibility.
That’s why all of our students have access to a team of faculty and peer advisors who can help them with everything from study skills to navigating the balance between work and fun. And we have a comprehensive Student Wellness building just a few steps away here on West Campus, with mental health and medical professionals who can help them through challenges both big and small. I hope that you will encourage your students to take full advantage of these important resources.
The Duke University of today is better equipped than ever to set our students on their personal paths, to provide an education that sparks their curiosity, tests their convictions, and strengthens their character. Ultimately, that is our most important mandate, which has seen us through our long history and will carry us to an even brighter future.
Thank you. I would be happy to take a few questions.