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From Classroom Building to Coach K: Seven stories to keep your eye on this year

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Take a deep breath and listen closely. Notice anything missing? Construction has quieted down significantly, with the completion of the new Hollows Quad and renovations of Craven Quad. But just because West Campus has momentarily calmed down in terms of construction, that doesn’t mean that all the excitement is gone. Here are a few stories, people and questions to watch out for this year.

Is Duke going to announce more plans for Central Campus?

As the Hollows fills with students, Central Campus is coming down. Duke started demolishing apartments on Central a few weeks ago after those apartments had housed students for more than 40 years.

“We’ve known from the day I arrived that Central Campus was done, that those buildings are ready to be retired,” Larry Moneta, former vice president for student affairs, told The Chronicle in 2017. “The money we put into them was just to keep them going until we could build something new.”

Duke has not committed to a long-term plan for the approximately 60 acres of land at its disposal. The Board of Trustees’ Future of Central Campus task force specified only a small expansion for the Sarah P. Duke Gardens and some additional parking. 

It did not advocate for any other exact development, opting not to dilute the potential of Central with small projects and because Duke doesn’t quite have the money for a big undertaking on campus right now, as Executive Vice President Tallman Trask told The Chronicle last fall. 

So what will Central look like this year? How much more parking will be available, and who will get to use it? There probably won’t be many reasons to go near the demolition, unless you’re trying to go the International House. I-House will remain on Alexander Avenue within Central Campus this year—a decision that was unpopular with the president of the International Association.  

What does McMahon have planned for students and their living situations?

After 18 years leading Student Affairs, Larry Moneta retired in June and was replaced by Mary Pat McMahon from Tufts University. Since Student Affairs oversees dining, mental health services, housing and residence life, affinity groups, clubs and the career center, McMahon has a lot on her plate. 

Additionally, the undergraduate residential experience has been a major topic of campus conversation for the past several years. Groups like Duke Students for Housing Reform have advocated for an end to selective living, while other students tried to reimagine how social selective groups could work at Duke—and don’t forget about the countless columns in The Chronicle for and against housing reform. The Board of Trustees even commissioned a task force on the Next Generation Living and Learning Experience.

McMahon will be charged with implementing living recommendations from the task force and fostering a less stress-inducing housing process alongside Gary Bennett, vice provost for undergraduate education. 

Her position’s title went from vice president of student affairs to vice president/vice provost, which was meant to convey the closely tied nature of the living and academic aspects of student life, according to Provost Sally Kornbluth. Students will be watching to see what initiatives McMahon and Bennett take to improve student life.

How does Duke’s Divinity School respond to Methodist anti-LGBTQ vote?

In February, the United Methodist Church’s global representative body voted to enforce tighter bans on same-sex marriage and ordaining LGBTQ+ clergy. The vote is causing rifts within the denomination, as progressive and conservative congregations figure out their future within the church. 

The Duke Divinity School is one of 13 United Methodist seminaries, which could put it in an awkward position. Protesters interrupted the Divinity School State of the School address in March 2018 to advocate for better treatment of its LGBTQ+ students. In January 2019, the school signed on to a statement in support of an opposing plan to allow same-sex marriages and LGBTQ+ clergy.

It will be worth noting how the Divinity School responds to any turmoil within the Methodist Church. 

Coach K to celebrate 40 years at Duke

Almost 40 years ago, a relatively unknown men’s basketball coach from West Point arrived at Duke. His name was Mike Krzyzewski, and he would turn Duke men’s basketball into the juggernaut it is today. In March, Krzyzewski will celebrate the 40th anniversary of his hire and all that he has accomplished in that time, including five national championships, more than 1,000 wins and 15 ACC tournament titles.

Will the Classroom Building get a new name?

This time last year, the History Department filed a formal request to rename the Carr Building. The current home of the department, the building was named after Julian Carr, a white supremacist who donated the land that would become East Campus. Cries to take his name off the building grew louder as the Fall semester progressed, until the Board of Trustees voted to remove his name in December. 

Instead of choosing a new person for the building to honor, the Board renamed it the Classroom Building, which was its original name before 1930. What will end up filling the empty plaque that currently sits above the building’s entrance? 

The History Department also submitted a proposal to rename it after Raymond Gavins, the first black history professor at Duke. However, that proposal was not adopted by the Board, as Trustees and administrators are taking a longer-term approach to the name. President Vincent Price told The Chronicle in June 2019 that although naming the building after Gavins may make sense now, the department may not be in that building forever. 

“In light of the debates about removing names from buildings, we want to be very careful in selecting names for buildings going forward,” he said. 

Will another formal renaming request be submitted this year?

New science faculty

Duke has committed to improving in the hard sciences, engineering, mathematics and medicine. With a $50 million grant from the Duke Endowment that the University received in March, it can hire the faculty to do so. The grant could serve as a chance to diversify the science faculty, as Duke will get the chance to hire more than a dozen new professors. 

Election season

Yes, the 2020 election is over a year away and will be covered by Volume 116 of The Chronicle. Yet election season is already in full throttle, especially at the presidential level. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a Democratic presidential candidate, spoke Saturday in Durham to the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People. 

More presidential candidates will likely make their way to Durham or the Triangle area before North Carolina’s Democratic primary in March. Maybe—just maybe—one will come to Duke. 

North Carolina will undoubtedly see hotly contested elections for governor and senator. Both elections will feature incumbents fending off challengers for their positions—Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican Sen. Thom Tillis. 

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the storylines we’re monitoring this year. If you have a tip or suggestion as to what we should be covering, please email Editor-in-Chief Jake Satisky at jacob.satisky@duke.edu or use our Chronquiry question service

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