Duke University was created in 1924 when James B. Duke, through his Indenture of Trust, designated a gift that transformed Trinity College into a comprehensive research university. In 2024, Duke University will celebrate its centennial—an opportunity to celebrate our remarkable success and reflect on the challenges of our history, articulate the mission of our present, and turn with purpose toward an even more extraordinary future.
In the fall of 2020, President Price organized a task force of trustees, administrators, students, and faculty to provide strategic insight for the initial planning phases of the commemoration. The task force released a report in May of 2021, outlining the strategic recommendations below.
The Centennial is our shared opportunity to recognize the people and milestones that have had great impact on Duke University and will launch us into our second century.
Duke’s Centennial Celebration will begin in January 2024. Calendar year 2024 will feature signature Centennial events and activities as well as events and activities planned by Duke University schools, departments, offices and groups. Duke will celebrate a special Centennial Commencement in May 2025 – the 100th anniversary of the commencement of the first Duke University graduating class.
First quarter of 2023 (January – March 31, 2023) is the Ideation Phase for Duke University’s Centennial Celebration Planning.
This is a critical time in our Centennial planning.
During this time, Centennial project implementation teams, as well as Duke schools, offices and units can submit proposed activities, events and programs to be included in the University’s Centennial master timeline.
We encourage groups and units to submit ideas through one of the Project Implementation teams, if possible, to ensure the ideas are not duplicative, are well-coordinated, and align with the goals of the Centennial: to deepen the understanding of Duke’s history, inspire pride, and launch Duke into its second century of excellence.
Proposed Centennial activities, events and programming must be submitted for review and approval by Duke’s Centennial Steering Committee. Approved activities will have the opportunity to use Duke’s Centennial icon/logo.
The deadline for submission of proposed activities and events is March 31, 2023.
Centennial Task Force Recommendations
- The Centennial is an enormous opportunity for Duke to articulate its remarkable trajectory—unparalleled in the history of higher education in America. A joyful celebration will deepen understanding of Duke’s history, inspire pride in Duke’s astonishing first century, and lift up Duke’s unique identity and characteristics.
- At the same time, the celebration should be balanced with a forthright acknowledgment of challenges in Duke’s history and periods of discrimination and exclusion. This is an opportunity for candid reflection and meaningful reckoning.
- The focus should be on the people who have built the Duke community—including the famous as well as previously overlooked or under-examined legacies.
- There should be an effort to communicate Duke’s impact, discoveries, and leadership across the university—in research, teaching, clinical care, the arts, athletics, innovation, service, global connections, and more.
- Events should project and reflect Duke’s academic excellence and institutional aspirations to serve society and address local and global challenges.
- The approach to the Centennial must be creative and incorporate multimedia technology.
- The Centennial should acknowledge Duke University’s deep historic connection to The Duke Endowment and its enduring and transformational support of the university’s strategic priorities.
- Duke and Durham: Duke’s history is intertwined with Durham’s. We should emphasize that the people of Durham built Duke, highlight Duke’s investments in downtown Durham and imagine how Duke will engage in the Durham of the future.
- The Centennial should extend a compelling avenue for alumni, parents, and friends to engage more deeply with Duke.
- To create momentum for Duke’s next campaign, Duke will use its centennial as a pivotal moment to celebrate the accomplishments in its first century and paint a bold and inspiring vision for Duke’s impact on the world in its second century.