Thank you, Trina. And let me begin my offering my thanks to you and to ECAC for your leadership, and to all of the members of this Council for your dedicated service to the university’s academic mission. 

This year we are celebrating Duke University’s centennial. Nearly 100 years ago, in December of 1924, James B. Duke signed the Indenture of Trust that transformed Trinity College into Duke University. 

In his indenture, Duke made clear that he saw higher education, and especially the advanced professional training a research university can provide, as critical to the social and economic development of our region, as a means “to develop our resources, increase our wisdom and promote human happiness.” 

Though he could not have foreseen then the great advancements and possibilities the next century would bring—certainly nothing like advanced biomedical engineering or generative artificial intelligence—James B. Duke’s vision of the university as a catalyst for societal progress was forward-thinking. North Carolina in 1924 was still primarily rural, with rigid racial segregation enforced by Jim Crow laws, and one or two of every 10 adult residents were not able to read or write.

Fittingly, our Centennial Celebration is also forward-thinking. Following the recommendations of a trustee strategic task force that included students and faculty, including council chair Trina Jones, we have three goals in mind: we seek to deepen our understanding of our history through informed self-reflection; we hope to inspire our community by honoring the people who have contributed to Duke’s growth and success; and, looking forward, we seek to build on our momentum and advance our strategic vision for the future. 

These three goals are now being brought to life through a yearlong series of events and activities organized by individuals and units across campus, in coordination with our Centennial Executive Director Jill Boy. 

First, we have the opportunity to engage this year with our institutional history, in candid reflection as we learn from our past. Examples include the “Our Duke” historical exhibit in Perkins Library or the bilingual exploration of the history of Latiné students at Duke, housed in the Classroom Building on East Campus. Both exhibits were curated by students with guidance from faculty and the Duke Archives. 

This year, as well, several Bass Connections project teams are studying defining features of Duke’s first century. In addition, an oral history project, a book, and documentaries—including a history of the Blue Devil that was released earlier this week—will explore and preserve the achievements—and the struggles—of our first 100 years.

These are but a few of the many ways our community has embraced Duke’s Centennial as an opportunity for teaching and scholarship about our own history, and I hope you will join me in generating, promoting, and taking advantage of these resources.

Second, we have the opportunity this year to honor and recognize some of the many people who have made Duke University’s accomplishments possible, as well as the people—including you—who are shaping the institution today.

Throughout the year we are shining a spotlight on both well-known and under-recognized individuals who have contributed to the university’s growth and success. 

These include, to name just a few:

Alice Mary Baldwin—who was named Dean of Women 100 years ago this month—and who worked to advance opportunities and recognition for women students, faculty and alumni.

C.B. Claiborne—Duke’s first Black student-athlete—who went on to build a distinguished academic career, and who will be awarded an honorary degree at this year’s commencement.

And—as we announced last month—we are recognizing two of Duke’s most dedicated early staff members with the naming of the George and George-Frank Wall Center for Student Life. 

Third, and in some ways most importantly, we have the opportunity to frame these hundred years as the foundation for advancing our strategic vision for Duke’s next century of excellence and leadership. 

Just as James B. Duke, President William Preston Few, and the faculty, staff and students of Trinity College together set this institution on a path then to realizing our current success, we now have—all of us here—the ability to ensure we are on a path to an even brighter future. Yes, we face the challenges of a turbulent and changing world, one that seems unusually unsettling for higher education, for academic medicine, for intercollegiate athletics, for much of what we do today. But the 1920s were unsettling in their own ways, as the world transitioned out of the Great War and a deadly flu pandemic and would face, within the following decades, the Great Depression and the Second World War.  

They found opportunity in their moment. We will find opportunity in ours, as well.

How do we do that?  

We start by recognizing that our success, like their success, derives entirely from Duke’s people. At our core, we are in the business of identifying and developing human talent. It is through our people—our faculty, staff, students and alumni—that we make a positive difference in our region and the world.  

James B. Duke clearly recognized this, calling on Duke University, in his Indenture of Trust, to recruit people “of such outstanding character, ability and vision as will insure its attaining and maintaining a place of real leadership.”

And that is precisely what we’re doing. Through the Duke Science and Technology Initiative, we’ve hired 35 new faculty members, significantly enhancing Duke’s standing in the areas of computing, materials science, and brain and body resilience. 

We’re also enhancing the infrastructure that supports faculty research, and beginning the long-overdue process of renewing key academic facilities to ensure they support 21st century learning and scholarship. 

The result is an increasingly diverse and talented faculty, with more members than ever before in the national academies, a faculty that last year enabled Duke to spend $1.4 billion on research and launch 15 new companies. And as we announced earlier this week, this year we have the pleasure of recognizing 32 members of our faculty with Distinguished Professorships.

We are investing as well in our students and alumni. Student financial aid remains among our highest priorities, reflecting our commitment to equitable access to a Duke education with enhanced financial support for undergraduate and graduate students alike. Last year, with the support of the Duke Endowment, we launched our new initiative for students from North and South Carolina. The proportion of students in the undergraduate class of 2027 who come from Pell-eligible families rose to an all-time high 17 percent, and we are launching new initiatives to help graduates from HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions in our region to attend Duke’s graduate and professional programs.

We’re transforming teaching and learning for our students as well, leveraging experiential and team-based learning opportunities, and fusing our educational and research missions ever more closely as we pursue creative solutions to the challenges of our day.  

And recognizing the critical work of our staff—and Duke’s role as a major employer in Durham and the Triangle region—we’re focused on ensuring pay equity, and this July we will raise our minimum wage to $18 an hour. 

We do this because we know the deep and transformative value of bringing to Duke an ever more diverse collection of people that truly reflects the society we live in. 

But we also know that, to realize the full potential of Duke’s people, we must cultivate and maintain a campus community where every person—especially those whose viewpoints or backgrounds may be in the minority—feels a strong sense of belonging and support for their work. We must work to create a culture that clearly reflects our core institutional values of respect, trust, inclusion, discovery, and excellence in all we do.

To that end, we have just concluded our second Campus Culture Survey, which seeks to understand the ways our students, faculty and staff experience Duke. The results of this survey will be used to identify areas where members of our community may not feel included, supported or valued for the work they do—and to introduce and share new practices to address those areas of concern. 

In the first such survey, we learned that staff members felt an acute need for clearer pathways for career advancement, and in the time since we’ve been working to address that need, and others, identified through the survey.

As a university community, we seek to advance discovery and excellence through honest, open inquiry while maintaining mutual respect and trust. As the world around us becomes even more polarizing, it is imperative that our Duke community be one in which we foster open and civil discourse, express our differences in productive ways, and build mutual trust and respect for others in all that we do. 

We’ve seen the intense need for this on a global scale this year, as the Israel-Hamas war has caused profound suffering and conflict, both for those directly affected by the violence, and for countless others worldwide. 

Although our campus has not been immune to conflict regarding this situation, our response throughout has been guided by our commitment to community, and to the safety and well-being of all community members. Provost Alec Gallimore has launched an Initiative on the Middle East to foster constructive dialogue, leverage academic expertise, and enhance learning opportunities. I’m grateful to Professor Bruce Jentleson for his leadership of this initiative, as well as to the many other members of the faculty who have already engaged with this work. 

So, investing in people, and investing in community are two fundamental ways we position Duke well for the future. To this list, I will add a third: investing in purposeful partnerships.  

The challenges we now face—from divisive politics and souring international relations, to threats to human health from natural and man-made factors, to the existential threat of climate change—these all require unprecedented levels of interdisciplinary collaboration and coordination, both within Duke and with external partners. 

We enjoy a well-deserved reputation for interdisciplinary collaboration, thanks to your work as faculty and traditions established over the years, and now we’re building on that in quite significant ways. 

A few notable examples include our work on advancing racial and social equity, supported across campus by every one of our schools and our Racial Equity Advisory Council; and the Duke Climate Commitment, which is mobilizing all of our operational, research, and educational assets to seek sustainable and equitable solutions that place us on a path toward a resilient, flourishing, carbon-neutral world.

We’ve also renewed our commitment to Duke’s hometown of Durham—and to our neighbors throughout the Carolinas—as we thoughtfully draw on our educational and research missions to advance our Strategic Community Impact Plan, designed to help address our city and region’s most pressing challenges. 

At Duke Health, we have proceeded with an historic integration of the Duke University Health System and the Private Diagnostic Clinic, our former physician practice. While our new Duke Health Integrated Practice is still very much a work in progress, it promises new opportunities for our academic medical enterprise.

Through Duke Health, we’ve recently partnered with Durham Public Schools and Durham Tech to establish an early college high school that will prepare local students for careers in healthcare, while simultaneously addressing crucial workforce needs at Duke and elsewhere. 

At the same time, we are also enhancing our connections to Duke’s global network of alumni and friends, leveraging our centennial to deepen alumni engagement through personalized experiences online, on-campus, and around the world.

These reinvigorated forms of local and regional engagement complement our exceptional global presence, through Duke-NUS in Singapore, Duke Kunshan University in China, and through the worldwide scholarship and engagement of our faculty and students. Over the course of the next year, the Board of Trustees, the Provost, and I will be engaged in regular conversations with you, the faculty, regarding our global presence and our aspirations for global impact.

Indeed, as we consider the challenges and the opportunities of artificial intelligence, climate, and global health, I believe no other university is as well situated as we are, as James B. Duke hoped we would be, to serve society and uplift mankind. 

As we celebrate our first century, and approach our second, I’m confident that our strategic vision—to invest in people, strengthen our community, and multiply our impact through purposeful partnerships—will build on our remarkable past and ensure an extraordinary future.

I thank you—my faculty colleagues—for supporting the Duke we have always been—and the even more remarkable Duke we are destined to become. 

And I would now be happy to take questions.