This year, Founders' Day is all about Nan.
President Nan Keohane, who is stepping down in June 2004, will give her de facto farewell address at 4 p.m. today in the Chapel as the University community uses this week's Founders' Day festivities to celebrate her 10 years of leadership.
Keohane said that in her speech, she will go back to her inaugural address and reflect on how the University has progressed toward the goals she outlined then. The speech will be a frank appraisal. "I'm going to talk about some of the things that we've accomplished, but being me, I'm more likely to say, 'Here are some things we didn't do as well as we might have,'" she said.
Her prepared remarks earned unequivocal raves from Senior Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations John Burness. "I think it's the best speech she's ever given," he said.
Founders' Day is an annual celebration of the University's founding that provides an opportunity to honor contributions by alumni, faculty, administrators, employees and students.
Keohane requested that any celebration of her leadership take place in the fall, not the spring, and said she thought Founders' Day would be an appropriately festive opportunity.
"Instead of having a big event in my honor to end the year, as I leave, if they want to celebrate my leadership, it would be nice to do it in the fall before my successor is appointed, when we can celebrate an anniversary which is a happy occasion--not a farewell, which is kind of bittersweet," she said.
Burness said Keohane stressed that she did not want a celebration of her, but rather a focus on the progress of the last 10 years.
Another reason for making her ceremonial send-off in the fall, Keohane said, was to not detract attention from her successor as president. "I don't want this person to wonder, you know, at commencement, 'Well, why is Nan getting all this attention, I'm president, almost, now!'"
Numerous awards will be given at tomorrow's convocation to other standout members of the University community.
The University's highest honor, the University Medal for Distinguished Meritorious Service, will be awarded to former Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Services Joe Pietrantoni and Trustee emeritus Morris Williams, Trinity '62.
Peter Nicholas, chair of the Board of Trustees, will present the University Medals as well as the Distinguished Alumni Award, awarded this year to 1944 graduate James Dalton.
The Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award will go to Carol Flath, associate professor of the practice of Slavic languages and literature, and the University Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award will go to George Tauchen, William Henry Glasson professor of economics.
The Humanitarian Award will be awarded to former Duke librarian Florence Blakely, who, as a volunteer in her retirement community, has worked to make the community's library more accessible to residents with physical difficulties and memory loss.
Four teaching excellence awards will be given out during the convocation, to associate professor of computer science Amin Vahdat, associate professor of English Laurie Shannon, professor of the practice of economics Lori Leachman and professor of anthropology Naomi Quinn.
In addition to faculty and alumni awards, those honored during the Founders' Day service include Angier B. Duke Scholars, Benjamin N. Duke Scholars, James B. Duke Graduate Fellows, Reginaldo Howard Scholars, University Scholars, Robertson Scholars, President's Research Fellows, Faculty Scholars and The Duke Endowment Fellows.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.