Steve Schewel went from being president of Duke’s student government association to mayor of the city of Durham. 

Schewel first came to Durham as a Duke undergraduate, graduating magna cum laude from Trinity in 1973 and earning his Ph.D in education from the University in 1982. His involvement on campus did not stop there. He began teaching at Duke through the Hart Leadership program in 2000 and instructed courses on leadership and political participation in the Sanford School of Public Policy as a visiting assistant professor. 

In Durham, Schewel founded the Independent Weekly and published the paper for 30 years before he sold it in 2012. Following a stint on the Durham Public Schools’ Board of Education, he was elected to the Durham City Council in 2011. Six years later, he emerged from a field of candidates to fill the shoes of retiring mayor Bill Bell. He was inaugurated in December 2017, and nominated one of his former students—city council member Jillian Johnson—to be his mayor pro tempore. 

Now, the two-time Duke graduate and former professor is a couple months into his term as mayor, making his mark on the city and continuing to influence the Duke campus. 

Editor's Note: This profile is part of our new initiative called The Chronicle 18. We are highlighting 18 people and groups who are defining what it means to be at Duke this year. Read about the project and more of our selections.