Richard H. Brodhead
Nannerl Overholser Keohane
Dr. Brodie, the James B. Duke Professor of Psychiatry, served as Duke’s Chancellor from 1982 to 1985 and was named to succeed Terry Sanford. During his tenure, applications to Duke’s graduate and undergraduate programs increased greatly as the school became a nationally-known research university.
Academic initiatives included the establishment of an Institute of Statistics and Decision Sciences and a new School of the Environment. Interdisciplinary planning was a hallmark of the period and a new science building, the Levine Science Research Center, brought together faculty from varied disciplines. Other capital projects added a dormitory, a building for policy sciences and public affairs, medical research buildings, and the campus wide network, DukeNet. Duke made efforts to increase the number of African-Americans in academia with a Black Faculty Initiative and a Program for Preparing Minorities for Academic Careers. Increased faculty participation in the governance of the University was made possible by the establishment of the President’s Advisory Council on Resources. During Dr. Brodie’s tenure, Duke became known as a school that welcomes people of different races, cultures, and ethnic groups.
In 1969 the Trustees took a bold step in electing as President someone from outside the academic community. However, Terry Sanford (1917-1998), known as the educational governor of North Carolina and one experienced in dealing with the then all too common politics of confrontation, proved to be a wise choice. Retiring in 1985, his tenure as president was exceeded only by the terms of Craven and Few, and by Kilgo by only a few months. Whether in additions to physical plant, in increased participatory governance with the addition of students to campus committees, or in fund raising with the Epoch Campaign and the Capital Campaign for the Arts and Sciences, Sanford’s years at Duke were impressive. His approachability, the openness of his administration, his emphasis on honor, and his assimilation and use of the history of the institution were most appreciated. But perhaps the most surprising fact is that 37,700 Duke degrees were awarded over his signature. In 1985, that represented 55% of the active alumni of the University! We frequently note how young Duke is but it is very much part of an older, distinguished institution. It is not uncommon to discover President Hart quoting Kilgo, Sanford quoting Few and Crowell, and Few acknowledging the influence of Craven.
Robert Lee Flowers
President, Trinity College, 1910-1924, Duke University, 1924-1940
President, Trinity College, 1887-1894
Principal, Union Institute, 1842-1851
President, Normal College, 1851-1859
President, Trinity College, 1859-1863, 1866-1882
Braxton Craven’s (1822-1882) connection with the school began at age 19 when in 1841 he was asked to enroll both as a student and assistant teacher. He succeeded York as principal and until his death in 1882 the history of the institution is largely the biography of Braxton Craven. Well versed in educational theory, in 1851 he had the school chartered by the state as Normal College to train teachers for the state’s common schools. An ordained minister, he later turned to the Methodist Church for support with the resulting change of name to Trinity College in 1859. Under his leadership the school became well known, drawing its student body mostly from central Carolina, but it also drew consistently from all Southern states including some students from as far away as Arkansas and Missouri.
The break in Craven’s presidency from 1863 to 1865 was caused by divisions in the Methodist Conference over his management of the school that led to his resignation. Professor William Trigg Gannaway was appointed president pro tempore. Unlike many Southern schools, Trinity managed to operate during the Civil War and Reconstruction. Classes were suspended for a few months in 1865 because of the disruption of college life when the campus was occupied by retreating troops, but there was little question that the college would reopen. Craven was persuaded to resume his office. A highly respected educator, though not an uncontroversial leader, Craven concurrently served as President, and Professor of Ancient Languages, Mental and Moral Science, Metaphysics, Rhetoric and Logic, National and Constitutional Law, and Biblical Literature.
Brantley York, 1855
Principal of Union Institute, 1838-1842
A largely self-taught educator, Methodist minister, and author of a series of English grammars, Brantley York (1805-1891) was asked by Methodist and Quaker farmers in rural Randolph County to help provide education for their sons and daughters. He organized Union Institute Academy in 1838 and met with instant success, having to build two new buildings within a year-and-a-half.
Though gratified at his accomplishment, he worked extremely hard raising money, and he began to go blind working late at night preparing recitations in subjects he had not adequately studied. In fact, he recorded in his diary a statement saying he considered his years at Union Institute to be “truly onerous.”
York, however, had found his life’s work at Union Institute and, though completely blind by age forty-eight, he lived to be eighty-six and founded half-a-dozen schools, lectured over 8,000 times, and taught more than 15,000 pupils.
Courtesy of Duke Libraries, http://www.library.duke.edu Please visit Duke Libraries for more information on the history of Duke presidents.