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Urgent Message Regarding Campus Activity

Dear Colleagues, 

As we confront the challenge of trying to contain the spread of COVID-19, we need your leadership and support to curtail the number of individuals on the Duke campus and in Duke facilities. 

These are unusual circumstances.  The most important thing we can do as a community is to follow the directives from local, state and federal public health officials to minimize to the extent possible the opportunity for community exposure.  This will serve to protect our health care providers, hospitals and clinics, and help us continue to fulfill our educational and research missions.  

For all university faculty and staff, we ask you to cease small-group and individual meetings effective immediately, transition to remote access for these activities, and follow the guidance for social distancing whenever on campus. We know this is challenging, and maybe even painful, but we have to do it.  And now. 

For our healthcare colleagues, we thank you for being on the front lines and continuing to work during these unprecedented circumstances. We encourage those who are able to be mindful of your friends and neighbors who are health care providers and frontline responders and to do what you can to support them. Helping with childcare, providing a meal, and other small gestures can make a big impact on those working long hours to care for our community. 

For managers, we call on you to be creative and resourceful in helping all of your colleagues who are able to transition as soon as possible to working remotely. You should use your discretion regarding who absolutely needs to be on-site and what work could be done remotely. Specific guidance on laboratory and research activity will be forthcoming. 

All Duke faculty and staff will continue to stay in a paid work status regardless of the work location or work schedule and should record their normal work hours. 

We are doing our best to respond to the numerous questions about operations, workplace issues, and health matters. You can find an updated list of Q&As on the official Duke Coronavirus website.  In addition, we have the following dedicated websites that provide key resources for working remotely, including access to virtual workshops on using communication tools, such as Zoom Meetings, and how to access Duke’s network using VPN (Virtual Private Network): 

  • Keep Working provides a central repository for all tools, resources and information for work-related issues during this time.
  • Keep Teaching is the source for all faculty and teaching resources as we transition to remote delivery of courses to students around the world.
  • Keep Learning provides information for students on academic, residential and support services. 

This is an extraordinary situation for everyone.  We expect that there will be further announcements regarding additional steps that Duke will have to take in order to adapt to this new reality, and to do our part in taking care of ourselves, our patients, our students, and our community.  I thank you in advance for your tireless dedication and boundless creativity. 

Sincerely,

Vincent E. Price

Urgent Message Regarding COVID-19

To the Duke Community,

For the last several weeks, the Duke-wide Task Force has been working diligently to prepare for and plan our university’s response to COVID-19. In the past few days, it has become clear that the spread of the virus continues across the country.  Even though this is due to circumstances beyond our control, we can take steps now to minimize health and safety risks to Duke students, faculty, staff and the larger community, especially as students and faculty prepare to return from Spring Break. 

To be sure, Duke University and Duke Health will remain open, and many of our operations and activities will continue, though with adjustments to working conditions.

Based on the latest data and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, input from our own faculty experts, and in consultation with the Academic Council and the Board of Trustees, we have adopted the following policies on classes, residential life, travel, events and visitors to campus, effective immediately.  These policies apply to Duke University and Duke Health.

ACADEMIC AND RESIDENTIAL LIFE

Duke is committed to maintaining our daily operations, completing the semester, and ensuring that all students can fulfill their academic requirements as planned.  We will, however, institute a series of social distancing practices to protect the health and continuity of our community.  

First, all on-campus classes will be suspended until further notice, and we will transition to remote instruction (video and other forms of delivery) for all undergraduate, graduate and professional schools.  In order to provide time for students and faculty make this transition, Undergraduate Spring Break will be extended to Sunday, March 22 and classes will resume on Monday, March 23. Graduate and professional schools will notify their students about their specific schedules.

Second, all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who are currently out of town for Spring Break should NOT return to the Duke campus if at all possible.  We know there are undergraduate students who are on campus at the moment or who will need access to campus housing this week because of a variety of circumstances.  Those students who need to return to campus, even briefly, must register with Student Affairs in advance so we can support a limited on-campus population.  Students who do remain in campus housing or in the Durham area should be aware that access to many facilities and services – including dining, recreation and libraries – will be limited.  In addition, student activities and gatherings will be curtailed. 

This was not an easy decision to make and came only after reviewing the range of options available in light of the rapidly changing situation in North Carolina, and nationally.  The goal is to minimize situations in which members of our community might be exposed to those who have COVID-19, and to protect our students, faculty and staff who might be at elevated risk.  This approach is consistent with recommendations from public health officials, and also mirrors the actions taken by many universities across the country.  

We know this presents a significant disruption to everyone’s studies, research and work, and also prompts many questions and concerns.  By tomorrow (Wednesday), undergraduate, graduate and professional students, as well as faculty, will begin receiving specific information from the university, their schools and Student Affairs about plans for courses, information technology and support services.  In addition, we are developing plans to provide residential students with a prorated reimbursement of any previously paid and unused housing and dining fees.  Further information on those plans will be forthcoming.

TRAVEL

At this time, we are also suspending all non-essential university-funded travel, both domestic and international.  Requests for exceptions should be made to your supervisor or dean.  This of course does not include personal activity, but we urge you to seriously reconsider any plans for long-distance travel and visits to areas that have been significantly impacted by COVID-19.

If your recent travel has included an area with active communal spread of coronavirus, and if upon your return to Durham you exhibit signs of illness such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing, you should contact Student Health (919-681-9355) or Employee Occupational Health and Wellness (919-684-3136) for further direction before coming back to campus. If you do choose to travel for personal reasons, we strongly encourage you to use the Duke Travel Registry so you can be reached in the event of changing circumstances.

EVENTS

We recognize that there is considerable concern and uncertainty about events that are scheduled to take place on-campus for the rest of the semester, including many of our prospective student visit programs.  We are closely monitoring the guidance from public health officials and our own experts, with the goal of reducing the risk of exposure to and transmission of the virus without curtailing all activity on-campus.  

Effective immediately, we are postponing, cancelling or virtualizing any Duke-sponsored in-person event with expected attendance of more than 50 people taking place on-campus or off-campus between now and April 20.  This includes recruitment events, tours, student programs, reunions, performances, conferences and social events.  

If you are planning an event with fewer than 50 people, we ask you to consider the following questions to determine whether your programs should also be cancelled or rescheduled:

–Will the program be in close quarters or require considerable personal interaction?
–Are any attendees scheduled to stay in personal homes?
–Are participants coming from locations with high infection rates?
–Will a significant number of attendees be in high-risk categories, including individuals over the age of 60?
–Is there elevated risk to staff who will help prepare for your event, serve your guests and clean up afterward?

If the answer to any of those questions is “yes,” then we strongly urge you to cancel, postpone or virtualize the program.  

For all events and meetings, we urge faculty, staff and students to remind each other of good hygiene practices; to voluntarily remove yourself from the event if you are not feeling well; and to make accommodations for ill or self-quarantined individuals.  Further guidance on athletic events will be forthcoming.  We will continue to assess our policies to address changing circumstances, including a potential extension of the April 20deadline.  

For all events, regardless of the size, please follow these precautions:

–Encourage handwashing and hand sanitizing.
–Minimize communal food (open buffets and salad bars).
–Advise your attendees about these precautions.
–Urge anyone who feels ill to stay home and to participate online if possible.

VISITORS TO CAMPUS

The Duke campus also welcomes thousands of visitors a day to our campus, gardens, museums and tourist destinations.  It is our intention to keep these destinations open to the extent possible, but managers of those facilities must observe the following precautions:

–Group visits and tours of more than 50 people are not permitted.
–Signage about hygiene, handwashing and hand sanitization should be located in prominent locations.
–Facilities managers should review plans for additional cleaning on a frequent basis.

We encourage you to bookmark and review the official university website https://coronavirus.duke.edu for the latest news and information about Duke’s policies and actions.

This is an unprecedented challenge for our university community, but we are very well prepared to meet it. The same innovative spirit that has driven a century of Duke discoveries will allow our faculty, staff and students to adapt to new teaching and learning experiences; the same commitment to service and courage demonstrated by Duke Health providers and staff every day will likewise carry us through these trying circumstances. 

For while Duke may bring to mind the gothic spires and greening quads of our beautiful campus, we are ultimately a community of extraordinary people, people who—no matter where we are in the world—can count on each other for inspiration, inclusion, mutual respect and steady support. From your home here on campus to wherever this message finds you, very best wishes to the entire Duke community.

Vincent E. Price
President

An Update on Coronavirus

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to provide an update about Duke’s efforts to monitor and prevent the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that originated in China.

A Duke-wide task force under the direction of Vice President for Administration and Emergency Coordinator Kyle Cavanaugh has been meeting since early January to monitor COVID-19 at Duke.  This task force includes senior clinicians and representatives from a number of academic, health care and operational areas.  This task force is responsible for reviewing such issues as: outbound and inbound travel guidance; study abroad; on-campus summer programs; contingency and continuity plans in the event of an escalation in cases; and ensuring that all members of the Duke community have access to the information and support they need to protect their health and safety.

It is important to note that no cases of COVID-19 have been reported to date in North Carolina, at Duke University or with anyone directly connected to Duke (students, faculty or staff).  Our physicians are in regular contact with federal, state and local public health officials and are deeply engaged in planning for a potential clinical response should there be an outbreak in this region.

In January, Duke created a central source for all news and announcements related to COVID-19: https://sites.duke.edu/coronavirus/.  This site includes all the university’s statements, announcements and policies with regard to COVID-19.  This website will be updated regularly to keep the Duke community informed.  I encourage you to bookmark the site, share it with your colleagues, and check it often for reports on the coronavirus’s impact on Duke.  We know this is a rapidly evolving situation, and it will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Duke is committed to being open and transparent in our communication.

While COVID-19 presents Duke, and indeed the world, with a great challenge, we can also take pride in the selfless work of a great many members of the Duke community, from the faculty and learning technology specialists who transformed Duke Kunshan University into an online campus in just a few weeks, to the scientists at Duke-NUS Medical School who developed the first rapid test to detect COVID-19, to our dedicated physicians and nurses who are prepared to treat the ill, to the many students, faculty and staff who have quickly and creatively transformed their teaching, research and service projects to adapt to a changing world. I hope you share my gratitude to them for their dedication to Duke’s highest ideals.

Sincerely,

Vincent E. Price

President Price Interviewed by Athletic Director Kevin White

President Price joined Athletic Director Kevin White for a wide-ranging interview about the university’s future on Inside Duke Sports with Kevin White.

Message to the Community on Veterans Day

Dear Colleagues,

I am honored to join the entire Duke community in recognizing Veterans Day. We are grateful for the service of the many veterans among our students, staff, faculty, and alumni, and we are very proud to call them members of the Duke family.

Duke University has a long history of active engagement with the armed forces. From the famed 65th General Hospital, which was based at Duke and saved the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers in World War II, to our physician assistant program, which began with veteran students in the 1960’s, to the thousands of undergraduate and graduate students who have left our campus to serve in every conflict dating back to World War I, we have been committed to supporting our servicemembers since the earliest days of this institution.

That commitment continues today. We are making new investments in the programs and initiatives that we offer to veteran students and employees and thinking creatively about how we can be the best institution in the nation when it comes to serving this vital campus community. To that end, the Office of Student Veterans and the Duke Military Association offer a wide range of resources for support, social engagement, and advocacy—both here at Duke and throughout the region.

Veterans Day is an important reminder of the service and sacrifice of so many members of the Duke community. We are proud to stand alongside our veterans and look forward to engaging with them throughout their time on our campus.

Sincerely,

Vince

Message to the Community Recognizing Staff

To the Duke Community,

As we strive to build an even more vibrant campus community, we too often think that university life is confined to what happens in the classroom, in the lab, in the dorms or on the field or court. Our students and faculty are extraordinary—but it is only through the efforts of our equally extraordinary staff members that we are able to realize our most profound aspirations.

Exploring our beautiful campus on crisp fall days, we may sometimes forget that it takes scores of dedicated security, grounds, and housekeeping colleagues to keep Duke safe and clean. Likewise, behind every successful treatment at Duke Health is a team of nurses and support personnel caring for patients; behind every friendship that buds over breakfast at the Marketplace are food service staff members who arrive before sunrise each morning to prepare healthy meals; behind every innovative learning program are the development, grants, clerical, and financial administrators who ensure that our academic initiatives have adequate funding and operate efficiently. Our most extraordinary discoveries require the support of lab assistants working late to prepare equipment and the facilities and technology staff who keep the lights on and machines humming. 

Duke employs nearly 40,000 extraordinary people on campus and throughout the region, and these few examples don’t begin to describe their vital contributions to our community.  

So in that spirit, I invite you to join me in identifying and celebrating those members of our university community who make Duke Duke. We are currently accepting nominations for the Presidential Awards, our highest recognition of those employees who through their work demonstrate Duke’s core values. I also encourage you once again to take a moment to say thank you to those committed individuals whose work too often goes unrecognized. 

I am forever grateful for the many ways that every person at Duke makes this community more vibrant. Thank you.

Sincerely,
Vince

Statement from President Price and Athletics Director Kevin White on Support for the LGBTQ+ Community

In light of Duke University’s participation in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and the concerns that have been expressed about the title sponsor, we proudly reaffirm our commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.  

We stand together with our LGBTQ+ colleagues — along with all of our students, teammates, faculty, alumni and friends — to fight for equality and to demand freedom from fear and hatred. 

We stand together to recognize the great significance of every individual. 

We stand together to condemn any effort to legislate, mandate, or facilitate bias and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, immigration status, or national origin.

By standing together, we seek to make our campus more just and inclusive, and to carry these values to the wider world. Let this be a notice that the Duke community not only defends but celebrates the humanity of all people.

Vincent E. Price

President

Kevin White

Vice President and Director of Athletics

Welcome Back Message from President Price

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,
Vince

Undergraduate Convocation Address

Good afternoon! To the great class of 2023, welcome to Duke! 

I also want to recognize Provost and Chief Academic Officer Sally Kornbluth, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Gary Bennett, Vice President and Vice Provost for Campus Life Mary Pat McMahon, our deans and administrators, and all of the faculty members who make this community so exceptional.

Well, you are moved in!  I was out there on East Campus helping with move-in yesterday morning, and a quick note: If any of you in Jarvis are missing a mini-fridge, I think I left it in one of the common rooms.

And to your parents, siblings, and friends who came to help you move in:  well, it’s time.  Time for congratulations, and then goodbyes.  If you want to stick around, you’ll have to talk to the admissions office about submitting an application. 

Otherwise, it’s time for you to take your leave, and leave it to your students begin exploring Duke.

To be sure, there is much to explore. This storied gym, for one, but I have to tell you that you’re not seeing it at its best right now. Come back when one of our volleyball, basketball or fencing teams are on the floor, and this place will be rocking.

But other corners of campus are already bursting with life: from the Rubenstein Arts Center with its light-filled dance studios, to the classrooms and labs where your professors are preparing for your arrival, to the glorious afternoons in the Duke Gardens as we head into the fall. 

As you explore, you’ll come across some fascinating corners of the campus.  Along a quieter edge of the Gardens, for example, you may discover a granite marker documenting an interesting fact – passing right through the middle of Duke is the 36thparallel of latitude.  

From time to time, you might be inclined to think of this campus as a parallel universe, but that’s notthe point of this marker.

When Eratosthenes, the so-called Father of Geography, first attempted to measure the circumference of Earth in the 3rdcentury BCE, he did so by projecting this line, which we now know as the 36thparallel, and which neatly bisects the Strait of Gibraltar, the Greek Islands, and the entire ancient Mediterranean world. In the centuries since, that line has guided untold travelers, dreamers, and explorers … and now, it has brought you here to Duke.

The 36th parallel illustrates just how far this class has come to get here.  In its vast lap around the world, the line runs through remarkable places, some of which are very familiar to you or your classmates. It passes through Southern California — where I was born and raised, along with many members of the class of 2023.  

The parallel also passes through some of the most embattled – and culturally-significant – places in the Middle East: Tehran, Kurdistan, and Aleppo, Syria. It passes through Jiangsu Province in China, home to three of you along with Duke Kunshan University.  It passes just north of Busan, South Korea, home to two of you, and through a thousand smaller towns along the way.  Closer to Duke, it cuts directly through Tulsa, Oklahoma and Nashville, Tennessee – are there any Tulsans or Nashvillians here today?

But today, I’d like us to pause for a moment and contemplate the 36thparallel — not just to note a curiosity on our campus, but to think about what these kinds of lines signify.  I think there may actually be some interesting lessons for us, here today, when we think about such imaginary lines.

First, lines allow us to map; they help us draw places and to define spaces.  And the 36thparallel can literally show you the way while you’re here. In a happy accident of history, Campus Drive almost exactly follows the line.  So if you ever get lost somewhere between East Campus and West, I suppose you could navigate old style by using a sextant.

But one way or another, you willbe charting your own course here. A course of study, sure, but also lining up new friendships, clubs, research, producing and performing works of art, playing sports, perhaps traveling abroad.  And as you are mapping your way, writing papers, poems, and lab reports while juggling your activities, you may at points feel a bit overwhelmed, exhausted, anxious, or just flat-out lost.  When that happens, please reach out for some assistance in navigating.  

As Liv McKinney so nicely pointed out, when you lose your line, when you veer off course and become disoriented; it’s not necessarily cause for concern.  You may just discover places you’d never imagined, people you’d never expected to befriend; ideas that help you get back on course — if you want – or to rechart your course, or maybe even redraw the whole map.

Second, lines allow us to connect; they can serve as links between disparate points.  When Eratosthenes first projected the 36thParallel some twenty-three hundred years ago, he scarcely could have imagined the innumerable connections it has allowed humanity to make – bridging cultures and continents and facilitating a much wider and deeper understanding of our place in the world.

So another way to think about your education is to focus on the points, the places, the people you will draw together– as is often said, learning is about “connecting the dots.”  Your roommates, classmates, or teammates, your teachers and advisors will challenge your perspectives and opinions.  And, if you are willing to connect with them, they will have a great deal to teach you about how to live in and experience the world. Some of the most remarkable things that you will learn at Duke will be from one another, not in the classroom or lab but in conversations late at night at the dorm, over breakfast in the marketplace, or even while you’re tenting in K-ville.  Be open to those connections.

I hope that you will also take these connections as inspiration to draw your own broad connections, across disciplines, over time, between theory and practice. As has no doubt already been made known to you, Duke is a university firmly rooted in the liberal arts – that is, we are committed to a holistic approach to the search for knowledge; we believe that by studying literature, history, and the arts alongside the sciences and math we gain ever more opportunities to draw those connections, and in so doing draw a fuller picture of what it means to be human.

Now, I should close by noting a third function of lines, which is that they allow us to divide; we often draw lines to serve as boundaries. 

Just as Eratosthenes could scarcely have forseen the connections facilitated by his imaginary line, he could not have known some of the more dubious purposes that line would serve.  Eratosthenes could not have forseen that 19thcentury Americans would use the 36thParallel to draw the northern boundary of slavery in the Missouri Compromise – a compromise that may have forestalled but could not prevent the nation’s journey toward Civil War.  Or that the 36thParallel would mark the boundary of the no-fly zone in Iraq, and the front lines in the Syrian Civil War.  

Today, we are confronted around the globe by intense divisions over disputed boundaries, and border lines over which goods and people, and ideas, travel. 

When we draw lines, we often oversimplify.  We risk missing a truth that is much more complicated, and richer, and blurrier than our imaginary lines suggest.  And if we confuse the lines we draw with reality, we risk embracing division over connection.  We risk letting our own boundaries box us in.  

Confronting that risk means reaching over those lines that would otherwise limit our worldview.  If we truly listen to our neighbors, listen carefully, and voice our disagreements with them respectfully, we will emerge with a much fuller idea of our place in the world.  Reaching out to make connections – especially connections across the boundaries that encircle us – reminds us that the lines that we thinkdivide us are only imaginary.  We become open to people, students of the world, seeking to learn from our neighbors rather than draw boundaries against them.

Over the course of your four years here, I hope you will be a boundary crosser, that you will seek out what interests you, what challenges you, what scares you, what excites you. Are you planning to conduct biomedical research? Try a short-story writing workshop, and you could write science fiction about genetic engineering. Is art history your strength? Why not take a chemistry class that can teach you about methods for dating paint pigments?  

But there is one boundary I hope you willdraw.  I know how exhilarating life at Duke can be. I know how driven Duke students can be. The fear of missing out can get the best of us.  Our drive is admirable, but it can drive us to distraction.  It can wear us down.  

So, I hope each of you draws another imaginary line, one that says I need some space; some space to relax; some space to reflect; some space to focus on my health.  And please: Get. Some. Sleep. 

Not now!  Stay with me …

I do want to emphasize this last point – the research clearly demonstrates that you are not at your best without adequate rest.

One great way to rest is to take in the Gardens.  Please do that now and again. And next time you do, maybe you will pause to reflect at that marker of the 36thParallel of Latitude. 

Eratosthenes believed that this line was the center of the world. And while our scientific understanding has certainly evolved in recent centuries, when it came to our campus, he might have gotten it right. Here before you at Duke, along that imaginary line that traces the road between East Campus and West, an entire universe of knowledge awaits your exploration. 

So, brave explorers in the class of 2023, may the next four years take you on a remarkable journey of discovery that begins now. 

Congratulations, and welcome.

President Price Interviewed on UNC-TV

President Price was interviewed by High Point University President Nido Qubein for his UNC-TV show, which airs throughout North Carolina.

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