Freshman year was characterized by the completion of major construction projects, student activism sparking campus-wide discussions and a bowl win for Duke football.
Devil’s Krafthouse—the first vendor of the newly-renovated West Union—opened after more than two and a half years of construction, and the entire West Union was expected to be fully operational in July. A renovated Marketplace, Rubenstein Library and Page Auditorium reopened at the beginning of the year.
The University also announced that construction of a new East Campus dorm, replacing Epworth, Jarvis and East House, would begin in August.
The Chapel was closed for renovations during the 2015-16 academic year, but reopened May 11 after a $19.2 million project to restore the Chapel’s stained glass windows, replace the roof and improve the electrical system.
A $25 million gift from David Rubenstein, Trinity ‘70 and chair of the Board of Trustees, helped fund the construction of a new $50-million, 71,000-square-foot Arts Center at Duke. Construction continues on the new Student Health and Wellness Center.
The main quadrangle was renamed Abele Quadrangle in recognition of Julian Abele, the black architect of Duke’s original campus. The renaming occurred after students presented administrators with demands in two community forums addressing racial issues on campus. The forums followed the defacement of a Black Lives Matter flyer and a death threat and homophobic slur made against a Duke student.
Student protesters staged a week-long sit-in of the Allen Building to protest alleged discriminatory conditions in the Parking and Transportation Services department. Additional protesters pitched tents outside the building in support for about a month. Students have also protested the Women’s Center’s impending move to East Campus from its current location near the West Campus bus stop.
In addition, non-regular rank, non-tenure track faculty filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board and unionized this year. The union plans to begin negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement with administrators in the Fall.
Several incoming first-years refused to read the summer reading book “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel, saying that some of the graphic images conflicted with their religious beliefs.
This year also marked one of the last of President Richard Brodhead’s tenure. Brodhead announced that he would retire at the end of the 2016-17 year after serving 13 years as president.
The University saw significant administrative change in other departments as well. Valerie Ashby—dean of the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences—and A. Eugene Washington—president and CEO of Duke University Health System—completed their first years in their positions.
This year was also characterized by continued academic engagement from the University and further efforts to enhance students’ potential.
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Paul Modrich—James B. Duke professor of biochemistry—was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, making him the second Duke professor to win a Nobel Prize. Robert Lefkowitz, James B. Duke professor of medicine, won in 2012.
Vice President Joe Biden met with Modrich and other Duke cancer researchers when he visited campus in February as part of his cancer moonshot initiative, which aims to accelerate the search towards a cure for cancer. Biden also held a roundtable discussion with scientists and physicians to discuss cancer research efforts.
The University launched the Washington Duke Scholars program to provide first-generation students with enhanced financial aid packages and other resources. The incoming Class of 2020 included the first Washington Duke Scholars.
In its second year, Duke Kunshan University began planning for long-term development—including the expansion of the undergraduate program—and saw the completion of five campus buildings, with work underway on a sixth.
The football team ended the season on a high note under leadership from the senior class, despite ups and downs during ACC play. On Halloween night after seemingly securing a come-from-behind victory against Miami, the Blue Devils could not stop the Hurricanes’ controversial eight-lateral punt return, resulting in a 30-27 loss. However, the team was able to overturn its three-year streak of bowl game losses and 54-year drought by defeating Indiana at the New Era Pinstripe Bowl with a 44-41 overtime win in Yankee Stadium.
The basketball team returned from a National Championship win with newly minted star Grayson Allen and a top-ranked recruiting class featuring Brandon Ingram. Despite high hopes, the Blue Devils lost captain Amile Jefferson for much of the season to a foot injury and fell out of the AP Top 25 poll for the first time since 2007. The team made a run in the NCAA tournament before being downed by Oregon in the Sweet 16.