The independent news organization of Duke University

Disclosing family ties

I step into the role of Chronicle editor with some unique ties to the University that I will be covering for the next year.

My grandmother Sally Robinson, Woman’s College ’55, served on the Board of Trustees from 1999 to 2004 and she was co-chair of the Financial Aid Development Committee. My grandfather Russell Robinson is chair of the Charlotte-based Duke Endowment.

I want to make it clear to readers that I am aware of the potential for conflicts of interest that this situation presents. I have taken and will carry out appropriate steps to ensure that my relationship with my grandparents does not affect coverage.
In the past, The Chronicle editor has covered the Board of Trustees meetings. That will not remain the case this year—I plan to pass off coverage of these events to other reporters. I will also continue to recuse myself from stories that involve the Financial Aid Initiative and the Charlotte-based Duke Endowment.

The primary role of The Chronicle is to serve as a reliable source of information for students and the University community. But our journalism often causes us to assume the role of a watchdog acting as a check on the administration. I want to assure readers that I will not disregard that responsibility.

So Grandma and Grandad, don’t expect a free pass next year. After all, not everyone in my family loves Duke, and at this time perhaps I should offer one more disclosure that our readers may find even more alarming: my mother and brother are current and future alums of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Will Robinson will be the editor of the 105th volume of The Chronicle. If you have any questions, please e-mail him at


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