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Carnegie Corp. chooses Brodhead for Academic Leadership Award

President Richard Brodhead is one of four recipients of the Academic Leadership Award.
President Richard Brodhead is one of four recipients of the Academic Leadership Award.

The Carnegie Corporation of New York awarded President Richard Brodhead with the 2013 Academic Leadership Award.

Awarded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York to university presidents, Brodhead is among four individuals chosen for this year’s award. Brodhead served on the corporation’s board of trustees from 2004 to 2012. The other recipients are Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University; John Hennessy, president of Stanford University; and Beverly Tatum, president of Spelman College.

“I’m very pleased,” Brodhead said. “The award is certainly to Duke as much as to myself. It recognizes things that we have been doing here that are good paradigms for where Duke has been in the lead.”

Established in 2005, the award honors university presidents who are resourceful administrators and who also exhibit an avid interest in the liberal arts, according to a press release from the Carnegie Corporation. Other criteria that were prioritized include commitment to excellence and access, curricular innovation, reform of K-12 education, global engagement and the promotion of strong connections with local communities.

President of the Carnegie Corporation Vartan Gregorian, who has known Brodhead since he served as the dean at Yale University, said he has long appreciated Brodhead's initiative in bolstering the humanities, interdisciplinary work and teaching.

"Erik Erikson once noted that human beings are a teaching species. Dick Brodhead believes in that and has made Duke not only a research university, but also a teaching university par excellence—strong in the humanities as well as the sciences," Gregorian said. "His support of excellence and equity, curriculum, and ‘service to society’ is distinctive and reflects important attributes that go beyond the role of simply managing and administering a complex institution.”

As a part of the honor, the chosen individuals’ institutions receive a $500,000 grant to be spent at the honorees’ discretion to promote their academic priorities.

Brodhead said he is not yet sure how the money will be used at Duke.

“The Carnegie award is probably the most significant single award that goes specifically to college presidents,” said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations. “If you look at the list of people who have received it in the past, it’s people who have made a significant contributions not only at their own institutions, but within the field and society.”

The press release highlighted several initiatives that marked Brodhead as a candidate for the award, such as Duke’s commitment to providing knowledge in service to society and to strengthening interdisciplinarity, liberal arts and international engagement.

“None of [these things] is something that you do it and it’s done like putting in a new carpet,” Brodhead said. “They are long-term, transformative aspirations of the University.”

He noted that the recent expansion of degree programs is an example of the transitive nature of interdisciplinarity. Examples include master’s programs in bioethics and science policy and economics and computation.

“A year ago, interdisciplinarity at Duke did not mean these degrees and now it does—just one more manifestation of something that continues to grow,” Brodhead said.

Brodhead noted that the new master’s program in historical and cultural visualization is his favorite of the new degrees.

“Ten years ago, you wouldn’t have thought to put those four words together,” he said.

Specific examples of achievements noted in the Carnegie Corporation’s release included the creation of DukeEngage as well as the Office of Durham and Regional Affairs, which oversees the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership and the Duke Community Service Center, among other initiatives. Another cited achievement was the Financial Aid Initiative from 2005 to 2008 and the ongoing Duke Forward campaign.

“[The Financial Aid Initiative] was based on the premise that Duke has a great financial aid policy but we didn’t have the permanent means of support underneath it, so I made the case that the day may come when this policy is hard to maintain,” Brodhead said. “We raised the $300 million just before the economic downturn. If we had not done that, we would have had a very hard time.”

He added that the initiative also helped broadcast the University’s commitment to increasing access, which had not been emphasized previously and “trained” alumni to prioritize financial aid when donating.

Schoenfeld noted that some of the largest gifts to the University since the 2005 campaign have been specified for financial aid.

The Academic Leadership Award was created in 2005. Nominations are solicited from past winners and leaders of national higher education institutions.

The Carnegie Corporation of New York was created in 1911 by Andrew Carnegie to promote international peace, the advancement of education and higher knowledge and the strength of the United States’ democracy.

Updated: This article has been updated to include Vartan Gregorian's quotes.