But have Price’s experiences his first three months truly been as unique as they may seem? To answer this question, The Chronicle searched through its archives to compare the first three months of prior Duke presidents.
We found that the initial few months of each presidency have varied greatly, especially as time has progressed from early in Duke’s history to present day. The capabilities of The Chronicle have also advanced in these years, making the study of later presidents much more in depth.
William Preston Few, the first Duke president, began his term as president of Trinity College in 1910 and oversaw the college’s transition into Duke University in 1924. From 1910, he dedicated his life to the University and served as president until his death in 1940. The Chronicle's records showed that the events during Few’s first three months in 1910 were mainly speeches.
His targeted “a much discussed present day problem,” the relationship between religion and education. The talk's emphasis on Christianity—specifically the United Methodist Church based on which Duke was founded—shows one clear difference between the priorities of the University more than 100 years after Few’s inauguration.
Two different Duke professors both made predictions of world politics in The Chronicle. Dean Calvin B. Hoover that a British victory in World War II was “improbable without U.S. entry into war” and Dr. Paul H. Clyde the Japanese foreign minister’s dread of a U.S. war with Japan, on April 8, 194—eight months before Pearl Harbor.
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Edens’ presidency began with the issue of whether to de-segregate the University. Dr. Benjamin Mays, a prominent “Negro educator” in Page Auditorium on Nov. 29, 1960, to voice how he “believes segregation interferes in education and that southern Universities have failed to achieve the status of those in the North because ‘our minds are circumscribed by the walls of segregation.’”
Douglas Maitland Knight Edens in 1963, tackling Greek life at Duke by that fraternities and sororities “are integral to the place, and if they are not, they can be.” He went on to “suggest three ways in which Greeks could ‘justify’ their existence now that the historic function of ‘civilizing’ students has disappeared.”
The biggest event of Knight’s first three months was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. Knight Saturday classes—which were a facet of a Duke education at the time—as well as all weekend social activity. Knight replaced these with religious services featuring a memorial service attended by 1,500 people.
Terry Sanford Knight in 1970 after finishing his term as the 65th Governor of North Carolina. His first three months were the most eventful thus far with the high frequency of anti-Vietnam war activities as well as other campus demonstrations.
In addition, he presented the opening address for the William R. Perkins Library on April 15, 1970. In the same edition of The Chronicle, the news that the University failed to graduate 42% in a four-year period was published.
On May 4, 1970, in response to the deadly shootings of four students at Kent State University by National Guard gunfire, Sanford that “he would consider bringing troops onto campus ‘only if the lives of students are in danger.’”
H. Keith H. Brodie Sanford in 1985. The Chronicle's article announcing Brodie’s succession described the transition period as “almost unnoticed,” adding that, “Keith Brodie’s first official act as University president was to take his family on a vacation to Maine.” The article continued, “but more than anything, Brodie’s taking leave the first month on his new job signals the smooth transition between him and his predecessor.”
During his first three months, Brodie also created a to study the feasibility of a new residential college on East Campus and to determine how Duke could best help dismantle apartheid in South Africa.
Nannerl O. Keohane succeeded Brodie in 1993, becoming the first female president of the University.
"Traditionally incoming presidents are accustomed to a honeymoon period, but for Keohane there are already a number of issues that demand her immediate action,” read the article announcing Keohane’s assumption of the presidency, on July 1, 1993.
One of Keohane’s first actions was to charge a new administrator to examine a proposed general harassment policy. Additionally during her first three months, the University brought in six new black professors, Hurricane Emily forced the evacuation of the Duke University Marine Lab, two law professors formed a non-profit corporation to fight gerrymandering, a curriculum review committee proposed a new undergraduate curriculum for Trinity College, two committees were formed to address criticisms lodged against student advising, a new center for improving teaching was introduced, a memo warned faculty about subtle sexism and a task force was created to examine Greek life.
Keohane also made the still-standing decision to house all freshmen on East Campus despite protests.
Brodhead's early months and looking ahead
Richard Brodhead Keohane in 2004. On almost the same day Brodhead started as president, the “’had serious discussions’ regarding their vacant head coaching position” with men’s basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski. However, the same edition of The Chronicle announcing Brodhead’s start also featured the , “Coach K: No Way, L.A.” on its front page.
Brodhead also oversaw the improvement of technology on campus in the form of video camera installations at dorm entrances for safety and the distribution of more than 1,600 iPods to freshmen. However, despite the new video cameras, two instances of armed robbery, one on Edens and one off East Campus, led to an increase in campus police officers.