Educating the new president

Although he must wait until July 1 to assume the reins of the University, President-elect Richard Brodhead has already commenced his six-month crash course on the ins and outs of Duke.

While the education of Brodhead will be a multi-faceted effort, his early course work has been largely defined by meetings with administrators, faculty members and students. In addition to the expected sit-downs with senior officials, he walked around campus last week with the Duke Student Government and Graduate and Professional Student Council presidents and had a luncheon with several medical students.

"He's not someone who learns as much from briefing papers as he does from walking around and talking to people," said Senior Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations John Burness.

Brodhead himself expressed positive impressions about his forays to campus. "I know I don't know the place very well yet," he wrote in an e-mail, "but I must say I feel quite at home there, and I appreciate everyone's willingness to share knowledge with the new neighbor."

Some of the most important time Brodhead has spent on campus so far has been with outgoing President Nan Keohane, who has been getting him up to speed on the Duke University Health System. Brodhead will play a prominent role in the selection of a new DUHS chancellor and CEO to replace the departing Dr. Ralph Snyderman, said Provost Peter Lange, who estimated that the search would be completed by late March.

Another goal of Brodhead's meetings with administrators is for all parties to get acquainted, begin building relationships and learn about each other. "I've got know who my boss is, what he's looking for in me," Lange said.

Brodhead must learn the complex set of stories that form the institutional memory of the University. For example, Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta said his main goal in his meetings with Brodhead will be to explain the transition of student life in recent years that began with a mandate that all freshmen live on East Campus and has since led to changes, such as the displacement of fraternities, in the social scene schoolwide.

Not all of Brodhead's course work takes place in meetings. He has received "homework" as well, in the form of voluminous briefs given to him from all quarters of the University.

Brodhead cannot be on campus as much as future Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences George McLendon because he is finishing out his tenure as dean of Yale College. McLendon, by contrast, is on leave this semester from Princeton University. However, Brodhead said he will visit Duke frequently, and, by mid-February, there will be long stretches when he is at Duke more than he is at Yale.

In keeping up the work of both a dean and a president-in-training, he faces a rigorous schedule. "President-[elect] Brodhead's really doing two very big jobs at the same time," Lange said, "so he may need a vacation July 1."

Though he must remain somewhat distant from campus, Brodhead has found uniquely northern ways to express his newfound Duke loyalty. "How could I fail to mention that I went to the Duke-Texas men's b'ball game in Madison Square Garden in December, where I met lots of alums and cheering fans," he wrote. "And [I] was at the women's amazing triumph over the Connecticut local heroes, the [University of Connecticut] Huskies, which gave me huge delight."


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