Senior stops to thank those who often go unrecognized

More often than not, "Chocolate liZgeois" has critically examined the actions and policies of different administrators, student groups, and other organizations within the Duke community. Given limited space and opportunity to make my point, I have found it more effective to criticize than to acclaim. For some time now, I have regretted that highlighting problems generates more attention than offering praise. In this, my last column, I will change that pattern and focus on underappreciated aspects of the University that have made my Duke experience wonderful.

Usually, when columnists or reporters use the word "administrators," they are referring to a few highly placed persons such as President Keohane, Dean White, Vice-President Dickerson or other similarly placed officials. In fact, the administration consists of many other less visible deans who provide both exemplary service to the University and advice to students; I only know a few of them, but they have made my time here much more pleasant.

Deans Mary Nijhout and Ellen Wittig, in addition to their academic responsibilities, help students prepare for national and international scholarships. Both probably put in as many hours preparing students for the competitions as students spend on their own applications. In my four years, I have yet to see them publicly thanked for their devotion and energy to seeing students excel.

Deputy University Registrar Harry Demik and Senior Dean Gerald Wilson, too, spend enormous amounts of time helping students. Demik has provided much of the impetus toward developing and improving ACES Online, as well as continually making it easier for students to manipulate their schedules. Though bureaucratic snafus and difficulties often make Duke's administrative structure seem impersonal, faceless and uncaring, those who take the time to work for a solution will find that Demik and his office are an invaluable and friendly resource.

Any pre-law student knows Dean Wilson. Others may not know that he meets with, and writes a personal recommendation for, every student applying to law school. He significantly contributes to the intellectual life of the university through his seminar on American dreams and American realities. Despite his non-stop schedule, he works with students on independent projects and enjoys talking with them about their intellectual and extracurricular pursuits. His commitment both to students' post-Duke law careers as well as their at-Duke intellectual growth is appreciated.

While Dean Richard White gains considerable attention in The Chronicle, it has yet to focus on what I consider his best attribute: his willingness to listen. Though he is responsible for the entirety of Trinity College, he still has time for smaller projects and concerns. I have only worked with Dean White on a few occasions, but each time he gave me his attention and responded to my questions or requests quickly. Even though he is the Dean of Trinity College, he made me feel as though my concerns were important. I know from friends that many other administrators act in a similar manner. I thank Dean White here as a proxy for all of those administrators who try to make students feel that they have some control over their own fates at school.

Many others work to make the Duke experience as positive as it can be. How many people can imagine life here without email or public computing clusters? The Office of Information Technology staff has the incredible task of keeping everything up and running. The Duke community owes thanks to those who let us communicate easily with one another.

Duke's physical plant, too, needs upkeep. The housekeeping staff deserves every thank you it receives. Often unnoticed, though, are the blue-shirted maintenance staff. I unfortunately do not know his last name, but Doug of West Housing II has, over the years, helped me and my neighbors with any and all problems from broken locks to broken air-conditioning. I thank him and those working with him who I do not know for making Duke as comfortable a place as possible to live.

Finally, I think that one of the most underappreciated groups on campus is academic advisors. Dr. Craufurd Goodwin of the economics department gave me more than time as my academic adviser; he became my mentor and friend. He and all faculty like him who genuinely believe that undergraduates have more intellectual potential than they see in themselves and demand that they demonstrate it, truly give Duke the reputation it deserves. From a personal perspective, I know that without Dr. Goodwin, my college experience would have been significantly less then it was. This then is a thank you to all faculty advisers who care.

In 750 words, I cannot thank everyone who deserves praise. The list above is simply a short collection of those who have, in one way or another, taught me to love Duke. Not handling goodbyes well, I close with four words: Thank you and farewell.

Alex Rogers is a Trinity senior. And now, after three years, the definition! Chocolate liZgeois is a French sundae composed of chocolate ice cream, chocolate sauce, sweetened chantilly and a sweet liquor. In Alex's opinion, the best liZgeois are found in the south of France.


Share and discuss “Senior stops to thank those who often go unrecognized” on social media.