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Brodhead introduced as new president


What has four letters, is among the nation's top research universities and claims Richard Brodhead as one of its top brass?

If you said Yale, right you are, but we also would have accepted Duke.

Brodhead, current Dean of Yale College, was introduced as Duke's ninth president at a press conference Friday that included local and national media, University officials, Trustees and members of the Presidential Search Committee.

Twice during his prepared marks, Brodhead said "Yale" when he meant to say "Duke"--understandable, perhaps, because of their four letters and his more than 38 years of service to the Ivy League school.

"That's okay, I did it too," chimed in President Nan Keohane, Brodhead's predecessor who flanked him to the right, after the second Freudian slip.

Brodhead said he was not looking for a job when Duke search committee members came calling, and said he may be "America's least disaffected employee" and said he has had "a wonderful life at a great institution." But his curiosity got the best of him, he said, and he began to learn about Duke and all that it offered.

"Duke is one of the handful of top universities in the world after all, and if I went anywhere, it would only be to somewhere like that," Brodhead said.

The longtime English professor said Duke is a university "with the feel and human scale of a small school but the intellectual resources of a big school" and that he was impressed by the interaction among its schools, departments and centers, not to mention its youth and quick rise through the ranks and fearlessness in questioning the status quo.

Ultimately, he said, it was the overwhelming friendliness of the people he met when he visited that was most impressive.

Brodhead said he deliberated for several weeks, "and then came the day when, as Huck Finn, said, I had too choose, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it: my wonderful life in a known world or the adventure. Well, you know my choice."

Expect complete coverage of the press conference and today's events later this evening.


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