Out with the old: The new faces leading Duke's next chapter

From presidents to deans, a number of Duke administration members have left—or will be leaving—the University as they advance to the next stage of their lives. The Chronicle recapped who these key leaders are, and what's next for the positions left vacant by their departure.

Richard Brodhead

Perhaps most notably, former president Richard Brodhead stepped down from his position on June 30, 2017, turning the helm over to Duke’s 10th president Vincent Price. Becoming president in July 2004, Brodhead was quickly faced with a controversial situation in the Duke lacrosse case in 2006. His tenure also saw the creation of Duke Kunshan University and the beginning of the Duke Forward campaign, which ended July 30, 2017, having raised $3.85 billion.

David Rubenstein

David Rubenstein, former chair of the Board of Trustees and Trinity '70, left his role in July 2017 to become a member of the Harvard Corporation—a group consisting of 12 voting members that functions as one of the two boards governing Harvard. He made many donations to Duke over the years, including a $10 million gift to the Sanford School of Public Policy in 2013 and a more recent $25 million contribution to build the Rubenstein Arts Center. He was succeeded by Jack Bovender, former vice chair of the Board of Trustees.

Nancy Andrews

Last June, Nancy Andrews, former dean of the School of Medicine and vice chancellor for academic affairs, stepped down from her leadership position. Her tenure featured steps forward in diversity and fundraising, as well as an update to the school's strategic plan in 2016. Her role was taken over by Mary Klotman, who served as chair of the department of medicine prior to her new appointment.

Kevin Sowers

This past December, Duke University Hospital President Kevin Sowers, M.S.N. ’89, departed Duke for Johns Hopkins, where he will serve as president of the Johns Hopkins Health System. Sowers worked his way up through Duke Hospital, joining the hospital as a staff nurse in 1985 before rising to chief operating officer in 2003 and president in 2009. 

Thomas Owens, formerly the vice president for medical affairs and chief medical officer for Duke University Health System, took over as president Jan. 1.

Steve Nowicki

Steve Nowicki, the inaugural dean and vice provost for undergraduate education, recently announced that he will be stepping down from his role June 30. Having served in the position since 2007, Nowicki plans to return to his former role at the University as a professor and researcher in the biology department. The search for his successor is still ongoing.

David Levi

At the Law School, Dean David Levi will also be leaving his position, which he has held since 2007. As part of the Duke Forward campaign, he raised nearly $125 million for the Law School and also established the Center for Judicial Studies. A committee is actively searching for the next dean, who will hold the title of James B. Duke and Benjamin N. Duke Dean of the School of Law after the chair recently received a $5 million endowment.

Rick Johnson

Following the Spring 2017 semester, Rick Johnson—associate vice president of student affairs for HDRL—retired from the role. Johnson’s responsibilities were not transferred to a successor but rather to two current Duke administrators, Joe Gonzalez—interim assistant vice president of student affairs and dean for residential life—and Robert Coffey, director of dining services.

Kelly Brownell

Kelly Brownell, dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy, will leave his position after this academic year but will be staying at Duke to lead the Sanford School’s World Food Policy Center. Judith Kelley, ITT/Terry Sanford professor of public policy studies, will become dean July 1.


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