President Richard Brodhead assumed his post as the ninth president of Duke University with humor and foresight Saturday.

President Richard Brodhead assumed his post as the ninth president of Duke University with humor and foresight Saturday in an event that mingled the majesty of official ceremony with the modesty of Duke’s new populist leader.

The threat of rain from Hurricane Ivan forced inauguration to move indoors from the Chapel Quadrangle to the Chapel for the first time in Duke’s history, but about 2,000 people crowded into the Chapel and several overflow rooms to hear Brodhead issue his vision for the University’s future.

In a speech that drew upon a variety of literary characters and cited Duke’s history, Brodhead set forth goals primarily directed at increasing Duke’s ability to influence life beyond its Gothic walls.

He committed the University to increasing financial aid and applying research to global discussions and local issues. He also pledged to strengthen the community among graduate students, undergraduates, faculty and employees.

While acknowledging the foundational work that the recent boom of campus construction provides, he called for the development of faculty.

“We reach the time for building of another sort, a building of intellectual capital commensurate with a splendid physical plant,” he said. “Every great university is great by virtue of its faculty, and an aspiring university will always be adding to the company of great minds.”

As part of that mission, he said, Duke must seek out scholars whose love of their subjects compels them to teach. He also sought to include undergraduates in the research at the University.

Scholarship ought to be relevant to the world, he said, encouraging Duke to extend its interdisciplinary scholarship to include finding solutions for community and global problems.

“What we get in return, beside the satisfaction of citizenship, is the education that flows back to theory from practice: the learning that arises when theoretical intelligence is tested in the arena of real human need,” he said.

Brodhead added that the University is particularly well positioned to pioneer this approach in the field of global health.

The University’s impending construction projects, such as the rebuilding of Central Campus and student spaces on West Campus, ought to “support the richest forms of communal life,” he said.

A Duke education, which costs nearly $40,000 a year, also must remain attainable for all who are qualified, Brodhead said. As part of increasing access he encouraged greater advertisement of the University’s need-blind financial aid policy.

He suggested that Duke’s primary fundraising in the upcoming years will be directed at building financial aid’s endowment.

“Recruiting the support to assure that this school never closes its doors to a worthy applicant will be a project especially dear to my heart,” he said.

Brodhead’s palpable enthusiasm for the future carried over into the audience, and his remarks repeatedly drew smiles and whispers from attendees.

More than 150 delegates from other universities joined faculty, students and a slew of invited guests, including presidents emeriti Douglas Knight, Keith Brodie and Nan Keohane, as attendees.

Keohane, who returned to campus for the first time since she stepped down from the presidency, welcomed the audience, which included many watching the speech live over the Internet and on Cable 13.

Representatives from the students, alumni, faculty, church and community officially greeted Brodhead and challenged him to propel Duke beyond its current status—a dare all suggested he began when he took office July 1.

Reynolds Price, James B. Duke professor of English, read an original poem about Brodhead so laudatory that the new president sat blushing and shaking his head through much of it.

Brodhead smiled and joked as Peter Nicholas, chair of the Board of Trustees, and University Marshal Richard White draped the chain of office around his neck. A gold medallion bearing the Seal of Duke dangled from the four-foot long, sterling silver chain that serves as the symbol of the University’s president.

As Gregory Jones, dean of the Divinity School, offered the prayer of installation, Brodhead fiddled with the chain and exchanged glances with members of his family, who were seated in the front row.

There was no hint of nervousness, however, when Brodhead spoke, committing to Duke in an academic version of marriage vows.

“Do I, Richard, take you, Duke, to be my chosen life?” he asked.

“I do.”