As school inches closer and closer, take a look back at this summer's biggest news.

Duke team sets world record

In July, the Duke Electric Vehicles team piloted their hydrogen fuel cell car to achieve the astonishing equivalent of 14,573 miles per gallon. The record-breaking run shattered the world record for the most efficient vehicle, besting a mark set by a much larger team of Swedish engineers and earning the official nod from Guinness World Records.

“I remember thinking that beating this record was the mountain no one thought they could climb,” said Patrick Grady, Pratt ‘18 and president of the club. 

The world-record run happened July 21 at Galot Motorsports Park in Benson, N.C. The victory came after the team poured in thousands of hours of work on the car, and it was not their first win. In April, the team won the Shell Eco-marathon in two divisions—hydrogen fuel-cell prototype and electric battery.

Dining bans disposable plastic across campus

Amidst a nationwide debate about the propriety of plastic straws, Duke Dining announced a campus-wide ban on disposable plastic bags, utensils and straws in July. The sweeping ban applies to all 34 of the department’s campus venues.

“My thinking was, ‘Why stop at just straws, why not go a step further?’” said Marcus Carson, assistant director of Duke Dining for sustainability and quality control, in the news release.

Plastic carryout bags will be replaced by paper alternatives, and utensils and straws will be made of a biodegradable, plant-based alternative. Previously, Dining had eliminated the use of styrofoam and bleached paper products. Last year, it was awarded a gold distinction by the National Association of College and University Food Services for its procurement practices.

Emmett Till case reopened in apparent response to Duke researcher’s book

When 14-year-old Emmett Till was found dead in Mississippi’s Tallahatchie River in 1955, two men were put on trial for his lynching and acquitted. More than 60 years later, federal authorities reopened the case in July in an apparent response to new information revealed by a Duke historian’s book.

Tim Tyson, senior research scholar at the Center for Documentary Studies, published his lauded book “The Blood of Emmett Till” in 2017. The work included an interview with Carolyn Bryant Donham, the woman who alleged Till had flirted with her and whose husband and his half-brother were put on trial for the murder. In the interview, she recounted the part of her testimony that alleged Till had made physical advances at her and used obscenities.

Tyson said that he was subpoenaed by the Justice Department, and the FBI contacted him for his research. But, he does not think any information he has is actionable and thinks that the re-launching of the investigation is politically motivated.

“I find it deep irony and appalling hypocrisy that Jeff Beauregard Sessions and Donald Trump would pretend to care about African-American children, about a black boy murdered in 1955,” Tyson said.

Larry Moneta, Elaine Heath announce departures

The University announced the departures of two administrators in August. 

The morning of August 2, Elaine Heath, dean of the Divinity School, was announced to be leaving the position effective that day. No specific reason for her departure was given by the University, but she will remain at Duke as a faculty member following a sabbatical this semester. 

Heath had served as dean for two years and grappled with controversies about the school’s treatment of African-American and LGBTQ+ students. In the wake of her departure, Greg Jones, who previously held the position for more than a decade, is taking the reins of the school as the University conducts a nationwide search for Heath’s successor.

Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, announced a less-sudden departure later in the month. He will step down from the position he has held for 17 years at the end of the 2018-2019 school year. Moneta told The Chronicle that he chose the date for his retirement two years ago.

His career in student affairs spans decades, first at the University of Pennsylvania before he came to Duke in 2001. At the end of the Spring 2018 semester, he made waves for his role in the firing of two Joe Van Gogh baristas for playing an explicit rap song by Young Dolph.

In his capacity at Duke, he oversaw a variety of university life functions ranging from dining and housing to student wellness.

"After 45 years of working on a college campus, though, my list of unfinished projects remains as long today as when I started," Moneta said in the news release.

Partnerships with Apple, Microsoft let students use Apple products like Duke Cards and paves way for research collaboration

When Apple CEO Tim Cook, Fuqua ‘88, spoke at the class of 2018’s commencement ceremony, students did not know that they would soon be able to use his company’s products like their all-powerful Duke Cards.

As one of a handful of schools piloting the program that adds student ID cards to the Apple Wallet, Duke students will be able to use iPhones and Apple Watches to enter dorms and purchase food. 

“With contactless student ID cards in Wallet, you can use your iPhone or Apple Watch anywhere student ID cards are used on and off campus,” states Apple’s description of the update. “Simply hold your device near the reader to access places like your dorm, the library, and campus events. Or pay for laundry, snacks, and dinners around campus.”

Duke is also launching a new partnership with Microsoft to benefit research efforts. The University announced in July that researchers will now have access to accelerated cloud computing through Microsoft Azure and the tech company will build an “Innovation Hub” in Duke’s new downtown location in the Chesterfield building.

“The computational power that this will bring to our research endeavor is immense,” said Lawrence Carin, Duke’s vice provost for research. 

Recently retired VP Phail Wynn dies

Phail Wynn, 70, served as Duke’s first vice president for Durham and regional affairs for a decade before he retired at the end of June. Within weeks of his departure, the University announced he had died of natural causes. 

Before coming to Duke, Wynn spent decades shaping the landscape of higher education in Durham as the president of Durham Technical Community College. He retired from that role, and was recruited by then-President Richard Brodhead to Duke in 2008.

At Duke, he worked to define the University’s relationship with the city. He chose to establish his office downtown, which successfully lured other Duke groups to set up shop outside of the campus bubble. His office sponsored the Durham Spelling Bee and facilitated Duke’s investment in the Bull City Connector. 

“This man lived to serve—to serve his nation, his family, his city, his community, his university,” Brodhead said. “And he was never less than 100 percent invested in any service he undertook.”

Standardized testing policy tweaked

Following suit of its peers, Duke announced a change to its testing policy for undergraduate admissions this summer. In a departure from its previous policy of requiring the entirety of either the SAT or ACT tests, the University will no longer require the writing score from the ACT or SAT essay section scores from applicants.

The change seeks to reduce barriers for low-income families and under-resourced schools, according to Duke’s statement. The University will still recommend that applicants send those scores.

"We will still pay careful attention to essay scores and what they represent for those students who submit them," said Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Christoph Guttentag in a news release.

The move aligns Duke with the admissions requirements of most of its peer group. No Ivy League school requires the essay and writing section scores, and Stanford also dropped the requirement this summer.

Duke baseball advances to first super regional since 1961 

Duke baseball had arguably the best season in program history in 2018, earning a program-record 45 wins, while rising as high as ninth in the national rankings. 

After a disappointing ACC Tournament, it seemed as though the stellar season would go to waste when the Blue Devils were shut out in the first game of the Athens regional to Troy. Duke would need four consecutive victories in order to advance. 

Trailing 8-1 against Campbell the next day, the Blue Devils pulled off the unthinkable, scoring 15 unanswered runs in the final three innings to stay alive. Behind a breakout performance from freshman Chris Crabtree, Duke would go on to win the next three games and advance to their first super regional since 1961. 

"I’m kind of at a loss for words," Blue Devil head coach Chris Pollard said after advancing. "To say I’m proud of our team is the biggest understatement that I’ve ever said. Unbelievable resiliency and character and fight, and they’ve got a lot invested in one another."