President Richard Brodhead announced Thursday that he will retire June 30, 2017, after serving 13 years as president.
Brodhead—who is also the William Preston Few professor of English—became the ninth president of the University in 2004, succeeding former president Nannerl Keohane. He spoke to the Board of Trustees and the Academic Council Thursday about his plans. After taking a year's sabbatical, he plans to return to teaching and writing. David Rubenstein, Trinity '70 and chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, said in a Duke Today release that the Board would appoint a search committee for Brodhead's successor at its May meeting.
“When I first came to Duke, I encountered a school that was clearly in the top rank of universities but that had a distinctive spirit within this group. Duke has an unusually strong sense of community, and what binds people together is a vision that Duke is still being created, still reaching for the further thing it could become," Brodhead said in a message to all Duke faculty, staff, students and alumni. "It is Duke’s nature to keep pressing to live up to its highest potential, and we have made striking progress in the past 12 years.”
Brodhead's full message to the Duke community can be viewed below.
At Duke, Brodhead was responsible for launching the University’s DukeEngage program—which gives undergraduates the opportunity to serve society both domestically and internationally—as well as the Duke Global Health Institute.
During his tenure, Brodhead oversaw the Duke Forward fundraising campaign, which is scheduled to finish at the end of 2017. The campaign has raised $2.88 billion toward its goal of $3.25 billion. The University has invested in Durham’s public education system and and the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership under his presidency.
Brodhead's presidency was also marked by the Duke lacrosse case in 2006. In a March 10 article in The Chronicle, he said, "I am at ease in my conscience with the role that I played." Looking back and examining his role in the case, Brodhead said there is little he could have done differently.
Duke has also expanded internationally under Brodhead. The University began a partnership with the National University of Singapore in 2005 to form the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School. Duke Kunshan University—a joint venture between Duke and Wuhan University in China—began operations in 2014.
“With many critical initiatives nearing completion,” Brodhead said in the release. “It seems the right time for Duke to recruit a new leader to guide the next chapter of its progress. Meanwhile, there will be plenty to do in the year ahead. Nothing in a university is the work of a single person, and in the year to come, I’ll look forward to chances to thank and celebrate with each of you who have helped build the Duke of today.”
In 2004, Brodhead was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was later named named the co-chair of the Commission of Humanities and Social Sciences, which works to improve teaching and research in the humanities and social sciences.
“Dick Brodhead is one of Duke’s transformative presidents,” Rubenstein said in the release. “The entire Duke community is therefore very much in his debt for the leadership he has provided over the past 12 years—and no doubt will continue to provide. That Duke will have another year of Dick’s commitment, vision and energy is our good fortune.”
Brodhead came to Duke after a 32-year career at Yale University. He graduated from Yale in 1968 and received his Ph.D. there in 1972. After joining the Yale faculty as the A. Bartlett Giamatti Professor of English and American Studies and serving as chair of Yale’s Department of English for six years, Brodhead was named dean of Yale College in 1993 and held that position for 11 years before coming to Duke.
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A scholar of nineteenth-century American literature, Brodhead has written or edited more than a dozen books, some of which analyze the works of authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville and William Faulkner.
Brodhead was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in May 2006 and received an Honorary Doctoral Degree from Tsinghua University in Beijing in June 2006. He also was the recipient of a Doctor of Humanities honorary degree from Fisk University in May 2007 and an honorary Associate of Science degree from Miami Dade College in 2014.
Brodhead and his wife Cynthia have been married for 44 years. Their son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter live in New York City.
Brodhead's full retirement message can be viewed below: