Although most students are not on campus during the summer months, life at the University still continues. This summer, some of the most interesting and controversial events took place while the students were away. The Chronicle takes a look at some of the most noteworthy summer headlines as the 2017-18 academic year quickly approaches.
Robert E. Lee statue is removed
In mid-August, President Vincent Price ordered the removal of the controversial Robert E. Lee statue. The Confederate general's figure stood at the Chapel's entrance, but who exactly ordered Lee’s statue to be placed in the Chapel is somewhat of a mystery.
Earlier in the week, Durham protesters toppled a confederate statue near East Campus. Then, the Lee statue was vandalized overnight, which Price and Luke Powery, dean of the Chapel. Several hundred alumni signed a petition advocating for the removal of the statue and pledging to withhold their donations until it is removed. Finally, over the weekend, the statue was removed.
“After hearing from and consulting with a number of students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and with the strong support of the Board of Trustees, I authorized the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee from the entrance of Duke Chapel early this morning,” Price said. “I took this course of action to protect Duke Chapel, to ensure the vital safety of students and community members who worship there, and above all to express the deep and abiding values of our university.”
The University also announced that it had been selected to host one of ten centers focused on racial healing and transformation nationwide.
Duke Forward ends, raises $3.85 billion
The Duke Forward campaign, which ended July 30, raised $3.85 billion from more than 315,000 donors over the past seven years.
The Duke Forward campaign reached its goal of $3.25 billion last July, ahead of schedule. Duke Forward set aside different fundraising goals for each of Duke’s 10 schools, athletics, the libraries and “University-wide priorities.”
“This is an incredible accomplishment to inherit, and I am grateful to my predecessors, to our development staff, and most importantly to our donors, whose tremendous investment makes it possible for Duke students and faculty to innovate, engage and improve our world,” new President Vince Price told Duke Today.
Some accomplishments for the campaign’s funds included raising an approximately $473 million for financial aid, creating 85 endowed faculty chairs and professorships, building West Union and establishing Bass Connections.
Graduate student sues University for allegedly mishandling rape allegations
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Over the summer, a graduate student filed a lawsuit against Duke for allegedly mishandling a rape allegation she reported against the live-in partner of a Women’s Center employee.
The Women’s Center employee and the live-in partner are also defendants in the suit, which was originally filed in May. The complaint charges that the alleged rapist accessed the student’s information through the employee’s access privileges. The suit also alleges that the employee and the accused rapist conspired to “threaten, harass, intimidate and disparage” the graduate student in retaliation for filing the complaint and to prevent any further criminal investigation.
In August, Duke University, the Women's Center employee and her partner filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit.
The new motions argue that the graduate student’s original complaint fails to state any “credible claim” against the defendants, and that the complaint lacks specific details about how the defendants allegedly entered into an agreement to interfere with the sexual assault investigation.
Adjunct faculty reach agreement with University
In August, Duke Faculty Union members ratified a collective bargaining agreement with the University.
Last March, non-regular rank faculty voted to form a union. After months of meetings with administration, the union reached a tentative agreement for a three-year contract in June. According to an email from the union, the now-ratified agreement includes pay increases, longer contracts and access to teaching and institutional resources.
“Our long-term project remains focused on achieving equity with Duke's tenure-track faculty,” the email stated. “Our newly ratified collective bargaining agreement is significant progress towards this goal of equity, and we look forward with pride and excitement as our commitments and stake in teaching and research as faculty at Duke University is, at long last, being acknowledged for the value it creates for students and in support of Duke's mission.”
Seven candidates file to run for Durham mayor
Following incumbent mayor Bill Bell’s retirement announcement earlier this year, several new faces have filed for candidacy in Durham's mayoral race.
Of the seven contenders for the mayorship, one candidate in particular has strong ties with Duke. Candidate Steve Schewel received both his B.A. in 1973 and Ph.D. in 1982 from Duke, and is currently a visiting professor at the University. He’s served on Durham City Council since 2011.
Another candidate, Farad Ali, is also emphasizing the diversity of the community. Also similar to Schewel, Ali has ties to Duke, as he currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Duke University Health System.
Although both Schewel and Ali have held elected offices before, several political newcomers are vying for their first elected office. Perhaps the most buzz has been created by the candidacy of Pierce Freelon. The son of architect Philip Freelon and jazz artist Nnenna Freelon, Pierce is a musician himself.
Another candidate, Tracy Drinker is a retired police officer and current board member of the National Alliance for Mental Illness in North Carolina's Durham chapter.
Shea Ramirez, a candidate who is concerned about crime in Durham, is a tax preparer and runs a model and talent agency.
Michael Johnson, currently retired from his cab business, told the Herald Sun that he is running because of corruption within the Police Department and the state of public parks.
Retired financial analyst Sylvester Williams—a former candidate for mayor—is running again this cycle.
Marvin Bagley III reclassifies and commits to Duke men’s basketball
Thought of as a generational talent by most recruiting analysts, Marvin Bagley III shook up the college basketball landscape by reclassifying from the Class of 2018 to 2017 and announcing his commitment to Duke August 14, just two weeks before the start of class.
Bagley immediately became the top recruit in the 2017 class and gave the Blue Devils the No. 1 recruiting class, and Duke became early national title favorites after his decision. The 6-foot-11 power forward averaged more than 20 points and 10 rebounds as a junior at Sierra Canyon School in Los Angeles and has range out to the 3-point line.
"Marvin is a special basketball talent and a tremendous young man,” Krzyzewski said in a press release announcing the signing. “He is completely dedicated to his improvement as both a player and student and, given his family’s deep history in this area, he is fully aware of what it means to be part of Duke University.”
Bagley will take the unprecedented step of wearing Danny Ferry’s retired No. 35 for the Blue Devils