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An Update on the Duke Climate Commitment

To the Duke Community,

I am writing today with an update on the Duke Climate Commitment, the university-wide initiative launched last September to harness Duke’s extraordinary strengths and resources toward the goal of addressing climate change.

Duke is in a unique position to deliver solutions that will place society on a path to a more resilient, sustainable, equitable, and healthy future, and the Climate Commitment offers us a new model for collaborative action. As highlighted today in stories from across the university, we seek to unify our efforts and amplify interdisciplinary climate and sustainability work, offering every member of the Duke community an opportunity to engage in these efforts. I am very grateful to Stanback Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment Toddi Steelman, Interim Director of the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainability Brian Murray, and Executive Director of Climate and Sustainability Tavey Capps for their leadership.

Today, I am pleased to announce specific, measurable commitments on climate, embedded into the five areas of Duke’s strategic framework: empowering the boldest thinkerstransforming teaching and learningrenewing our campus communityforging purposeful partnerships in Durham and the region, and engaging our extraordinary global network.

As we empower the boldest thinkers, we commit to

As we transform teaching and learning, we commit to

  • build on the success of UNIV102 and partner with schools across the university to infuse climate and sustainability into educational programs, preparing Duke students to lead in the 21st century;
  • launch a teaching fellows program to support instructors in incorporating climate and sustainability in their courses;
  • offer workshops to students, faculty, and staff to deepen their knowledge and agency on issues related to climate and sustainability;
  • explore resource needs for career services to better prepare students for entering the workforce with the goal of contributing to climate change solutions;
  • expand the Campus as Lab program to use Duke’s campus as a living laboratory.

As we renew our campus community, we commit to

  • continue progress towards Duke’s goals for carbon neutrality, outlined in the 2019 Climate Action Plan Update
  • build on the 43% greenhouse gas emissions reductions to date as we navigate challenges from the pandemic, with a focus on campus energy efficiency, off-campus solar, renewable natural gas, and opportunities to retain the significant emission reductions realized in employee commuting and air travel over the past two years;
  • continue to work with a staff, faculty and student advisory committee to evaluate potential carbon offsets projects that meet our high standards;
  • seek new opportunities to directly engage staff in Duke’s sustainability efforts, including through workshops, workplace certifications, and educational resources;
  • develop a Duke Sustainable Fleet and Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Plan to reduce the impact of campus vehicles and expand EV infrastructure;
  • continue working with DUMAC to support endowment investments in sustainability, in accordance with the Guideline on Investment Responsibility adopted by the Board of Trustees;
  • expand efforts to infuse sustainability further into Duke’s supply chain through campus policies and contract language;
  • explore opportunities to support and increase sustainability efforts in the Duke Health system.

As we partner with purpose in Durham and the region, we commit to

  • strengthen our relationship with the City of Durham and promote regional sustainability through the Strategic Community Impact Plandeveloped by the Office of Durham and Community Affairs;
  • engage local, state, and federal policymakers regarding equitable climate and sustainability solutions;
  • deepen our involvement with green entrepreneurs, investors, and industry leaders in the Research Triangle and beyond.

As we engage our global network of alumni, we commit to

  • convene climate leaders on campus to share their work and engage with the Duke community, including these events in Spring 2023, among others:

Sustainable Business and Social Impact conference,
Blue Economy Summit, hosted by Oceans@Duke,
Climate Change, Decolonization, and Global Blackness series at the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, and
Histories and Society in the Hydrosphere conference, hosted by the Center for International and Global Studies;

  • develop opportunities for alumni who are invested in climate and sustainability work to connect with our education, research and engagement efforts on campus and beyond;
  • provide climate and sustainability literacy and fluency opportunities for alumni through lifelong learning and digital education partnerships.

Over the coming months and years, we will track our progress on these commitments on the Climate Commitment website. We recognize that this initiative may evolve and will take time to implement, and we will only succeed through the collective action of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends.

These commitments are both aspirational and inclusive. They allow us to think about the kind of university we want Duke to be.  I invite you personally to be a part of this important effort.

The Duke Climate Commitment marks a hopeful moment—when we seize the opportunity to lead toward a brighter future. I hope you will join me in this transformational undertaking.

Together, Duke is in it for life.

Cheers,

Vince

Voting at Duke

To the Duke University and Duke Health Community,

We are writing today to encourage you to cast your vote in the upcoming elections, either during early voting or on election day, November 8. Voting is perhaps the most important—and easiest—way to participate in our democracy and shape the future of our local communities and our nation, and this year Duke is offering a number of opportunities to make your voice heard.

Through November 5, anyone eligible to vote in Durham County can use the early voting site at the Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center, 2080 Duke University Road. The polls will be open from 8 a.m. through 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Early voting will close at 3 p.m. on Saturday, November 5. The Karsh Center is a short walk from West Campus, and ample free parking is available. Note that during North Carolina’s early voting period, you can visit any polling place in the county where you are registered.

Duke Votes is an excellent resource for all things related to voting. Here you can check your current voting status, how to vote by mail or in person on election day and also find resources for voting in your home state, if you aren’t voting in North Carolina.  

In order to allow Duke employees flexibility in casting their vote, Duke University and Duke Health encourage supervisors to cancel nonessential meetings on November 8 and be flexible with scheduling to enable staff members who are unable to vote outside normal work hours to do so before, during, or after their assigned shifts. 

We are proud of the many ways that members of the Duke community provide real leadership in our community and nation. Thank you for making your voices heard and participating in our democracy.

Best wishes,

Vincent E. Price

President

A. Eugene Washington

Chancellor for Health Affairs

Climate Commitment Launch Event

On September 29, the campus community came together in Page Auditorium to celebrate the launch of the Duke Climate Commitment, our university-wide effort to address climate change.

This is a transformational initiative for Duke, one that is unprecedented in our history and in higher education.

Never before have we committed to marshaling every part of our enterprise—our collective resources, talents, and passions—toward solving a global problem in such a focused way. The scale and importance of our climate-related challenges call for nothing less: creating sustainable and equitable solutions that will place society on the path to a resilient, flourishing, net-zero-carbon world by mid-century.

Our history has prepared us well to rise to this moment—indeed, at a time when some of our peers are launching new climate schools, we have been leading in this work for as long as we have been Duke.

The School of Forestry and the Marine Laboratory were both founded more than eighty years ago, in the early days of our university. More than thirty years ago these entities came together into one school—and thanks to a foundational gift from the Nicholas family, we now have the Nicholas School of the Environment.

Seventeen years ago, we launched what is now the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability, which elevates our environmental work through education, sustained engagement, and convening of stakeholders and policy experts. A dozen years ago, we launched our plan to achieve carbon neutrality, and we have operated with a broad strategic plan to achieve sustainability in areas such as energy, water, food, and land use.

The Duke Climate Commitment builds on and concentrates these many complementary resources. Our research will advance core areas of expertise in transforming energy, creating climate-resilient communities and ecosystems, and developing data-driven climate solutions—all with a focus on more equitable solutions. Our teaching will infuse climate and sustainability into programs across the university, improving the lives of our students and preparing them to lead as alumni.

But the reason that this can only happen at Duke is our distinctive excellence in interdisciplinary collaboration. While the Duke Climate Commitment will have the Nicholas School and Institute at its heart, it will encompass research and teaching across all of our schools and institutes, guide our campus operations, and help us foster stronger, collaborative relationships with partners in our community, state, nation and around the globe.

To that end, we’re launching data expeditions with an initial focus on climate and health and collaboration grants to drive creative research across disciplines. We’re committing to making climate and sustainability fluency foundational to the curriculum for every student at Duke and extending our reach to our alumni. As we continue to work toward our goal of carbon neutrality in 2024 and to lead the way in sustainable operations, we’re developing Duke as a living laboratory to study and solve climate and sustainability issues. And perhaps most importantly, we’re supporting environmental sustainability in the community and advancing our understanding of the critical impacts of climate change on social and racial equity.

The Duke Climate Commitment marks a hopeful moment for us—when we seize the opportunity and step up to our responsibility to lead toward a brighter, healthier future. I hope you will join us in this transformational undertaking. Duke is in it, together, for life.

To learn more, visit CLIMATE.DUKE.EDU.

Statement Regarding 20-Week Abortion Ban Reinstatement

President Vincent E. Price released the following statement regarding the reinstatement of North Carolina’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks.

Abortion is both a health care procedure and a profoundly personal and highly political issue that prompts deeply held and conflicting convictions on our campus, in our community, and across our country. With that in mind, I want to reaffirm Duke’s core responsibilities to serve our students, faculty, staff and patients.

As an educational institution, Duke has a responsibility to advance learning within an environment of respect and inclusion. We must recognize that many of our students, faculty, staff and neighbors have experienced fear and uncertainty about their future access to reproductive health in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in June—anxieties that this reinstatement are likely to deepen. Let us remember to approach one another with compassion in this uncertain moment.

As a health system that serves tens of thousands of residents of North Carolina and the southeast, Duke has a responsibility to provide high-quality and often lifesaving patient care, promote health equity, and support patients in making health decisions with their doctors. Duke Health will continue to provide reproductive health services, including abortion, in compliance with state law.

Finally, as an employer and campus community, Duke has a responsibility to support the wellbeing of everyone who comes here to learn, work, teach, and live. We remain committed to providing access to reproductive health services, including abortion, to our students, faculty, and staff. We do not plan or anticipate any changes to this commitment following  the reinstatement.

Duke is above all a community of extraordinary people: colleagues and classmates who deserve our respect, empathy, and care. In the months and years ahead, these principles will continue to guide us on this issue and many others.

Celebrating Juneteenth

To the Duke Community,

As we mark the 157th anniversary of Juneteenth and the abolition of slavery, the Duke University community celebrates the vibrancy of Black lives and Black excellence and honors the courage and commitment of those who have sought a world free of oppression and violence. Juneteenth also presents an opportunity for reflection on the legacy of racism at Duke, in the American South, and across our nation—and the many systemic inequities and injustices that persist for our Black classmates, colleagues, and neighbors.

Two years ago, I announced that racial equity and justice would be foundational priorities for Duke University moving forward, at the heart of all that we do in education, research, patient care, student and staff support, and community engagement. Today, we are more committed to this goal than ever. The Racial Equity Advisory Council (REAC) released a comprehensive reportearlier this week on its first year of driving these efforts, including many new initiatives in the focus areas of communications, campus climate and assessment, education, and infrastructure and policies. I encourage you to read the report and other updates on the Racial Equity website.

I am very grateful for the leadership of REAC’s co-chairs, members, and the many Duke University staff, faculty, students, and neighbors who have contributed to our progress thus far. The work of REAC is only the very beginning of our broader university commitments to address racism and inequity in the decades to come. And as we mark Juneteenth, we are reminded that racial equity and justice are not end goals to be reached or achieved—they are ongoing institutional and personal principles that must guide all that we do as a university.

Very best wishes for this weekend’s celebration, and thank you for your steadfast support of the work still to come.

Sincerely,

Vince

Strategy Team 2030 Report

An Update on Duke’s Campus Survey

November 18, 2021

To the Duke Community,

I write today with an update about our efforts to advance racial equity at Duke.

Duke recently engaged in our first-ever campus-wide survey of all students, faculty, and university staff regarding equity and inclusion. I am grateful to the more than 12,700 members of the Duke community who responded, answering questions designed to provide an understanding of the current state of the campus climate and identify areas of concern and priorities as we move forward. I encourage you to review a summary of the findings here. We are in the process of sharing more detailed results with unit and department leaders to inform local policies and actions.

This survey is a critical benchmark—the first of many as we continue our racial equity work. Over the coming years, we will further refine the survey instrument and track our progress toward equity, together, as a community. These regular surveys will also serve as a means of informing our actions toward meaningful change and holding Duke administrators accountable now and into the future.

The results of the survey are telling, and some are deeply troubling. The findings show that different members of our community experience a very different Duke. More than half of Black, Hispanic, Asian, female, and LGBTQ+ members of the Duke community report having experienced microaggressions in the past year. Furthermore, Black and Hispanic members of the community are less satisfied relative to their white counterparts with opportunities for advancement.

To be clear, these findings point to a climate that is unacceptable, and I remain resolutely committed to working with every member of this community to change the culture at Duke for the better. To that end, I have formed the Racial Equity Advisory Council (REAC)—led by Vice President for Institutional Equity and Chief Diversity Officer Kim Hewitt and Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement Abbas Benmamoun and comprising faculty, administrators, staff, and students involved in equity initiatives and research. REAC is developing plans to coordinate and advance our efforts to address racism and other inequities at Duke. It will also advise senior institutional leaders and—importantly—hold me and my administration accountable for our progress by regularly providing transparent communications with the Duke community. I invite you to read more about REAC here.

REAC’s work—and the institutional research behind it—are intended to strengthen the ongoing efforts that are already underway in departments and areas across the university. Indeed, the Council’s formation is an important step on a much longer journey toward eliminating racism and inequity at Duke—which will remain a pressing priority for our university for many years to come.

As always, I thank you for your commitment to this vitally important work, and I urge all members of our community to help make our campus more equitable, inclusive, and inviting to a diversity of identities, backgrounds, and perspectives.

Very best wishes,

Vince


Vincent E. Price

President

Commemorating September 11th

To the Duke Community, 

Tomorrow we mark a solemn anniversary and remember the lives lost on September 11, 2001.

Some among us are too young to remember the events of that day; many of us will remember them forever. Some members of the Duke community lost family members—including Duke alumni—and others have served with honor in the military in the years since.  All of us—no matter how old or where we are from—have had our lives forever changed by the collective trauma of the attacks and their aftermath.

Tomorrow morning, to mark the anniversary of these tragic events, the Duke Chapel bells will toll at 8:46, 9:03, 9:37, and 10:03. Immediately following the final toll, I will join Dean of the Chapel Luke Powery and interfaith leaders from across campus in a vigil on the steps of the Chapel. I invite you to join us if you are able.

At 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, the Chapel will host a ‘Grant Us Peace’ Concert with music by the Duke Chapel musicians and the Ciompi Quartet and readings from a variety of faith traditions. This event, which is cosponsored by Vice Provost for the Arts John Brown and Duke Arts, will be livestreamed on the Duke Chapel website.

Departments and programs across campus are also hosting commemorations in the coming days. You can learn more here.

I hope that you are able to find an opportunity for quiet reflection tomorrow. May all of us find inspiration in our community to foster greater understanding and peace in our world in the years to come.

Sincerely,

Vince

A Community Message from President Price

September 3, 2021

To the Duke Community,

We’re now a few weeks into the fall semester, and I’d like to express my gratitude for your commitment and patience in the continuing challenges of this moment.

Our students, faculty and staff have shown that we can come together in community and adapt. But for now and perhaps for a while yet, we have to find ways to live and work and play under these still unusual circumstances.

We will get through this—and hopefully very soon. Already, things are looking up. In the meantime, thank you for your continued support and commitment to our public health protocols, which you can find at coronavirus.duke.edu.

Thank you.

Cheers,

Vince

Duke-NUS Leadership Conversation

In this issue of MEDICUS, special In Conversation With guest host Duke-NUS Dean Thomas Coffman speaks to the presidents of Duke-NUS’ parent universities—Duke University and the National University of Singapore (NUS). In this two-part special, Duke President Vincent E Price and NUS President Tan Eng Chye and share their perspectives on how the pandemic has impacted university communities, what the future of learning and higher education will look like and how they cope with the responsibilities and demands of leading a top global institution.

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