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$32 million Alumni and Visitors Center to be space for tours, student-alumni networking

Gone are the days of alumni, prospective students and visitors stumbling onto West Campus, dropped off at Abele Quad and left to fend for themselves. 

Duke’s campus is gaining a new entry in the form of the Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center, a complex designed as a gathering place and starting point for everyone at Duke.

The 47,000 square-foot center is thanks to $32 million in donations from more than 50 donors, with the leading gift from Martha Karsh and Bruce Karsh, Trinity ’77.

“What I love about the Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center is that it is both a destination and a jumping-off point for your personalized Duke experience,” wrote Scott Greenwood, chief operating officer of Duke Alumni Association, in an email to The Chronicle. “You may come here for an event, or you might start your visit here. You get small ‘tastes’ of Duke in the modern interpretation of neo-Gothic architecture located throughout the center, in the West Campus-inspired quad and in all the center’s technology-driven opportunities.”


Duke is opening the Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center at the corner of Duke University Road and Chapel Drive this semester. Take a look inside before the grand opening, and check out the new "front door" to campus. Hosted by Maria Morrison, health and science news department head Video by Isabelle Bann, staff videographer Edited by Bre Bradham, video editor


The Karsh Center will be formally debuted to students at the grand opening Sept. 28 from 1:00-4:00 p.m., but it is already fully operational and has had student traffic. 

Instead of tours beginning at various spots on campus, all Duke tours will originate from the Karsh Center, which will be the new automatically-selected waypoint for “Duke University” in Google Maps and on rideshare services. 

This not only provides a central point for visitors but also allows for them to travel through the Nasher Museum of Art or the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, campus features that were previously cut off from most tours.

“Thousands of alumni visit campus each year, and we expect that a large number of them will be coming to the Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center for events, meetings, tours, to plan their day on campus or just to spend some time with friends. The center will also be the first stop for prospective students starting later this month when we start hosting admissions information sessions,” wrote Sterly Wilder, Trinity ‘83 and associate vice president for alumni affairs, in an email.

Wilder hopes that the center will be “a place for studying, holding meetings, getting away from the noise and networking with alumni.” 

The center includes a study space, market, reception area, boardroom, library, outdoor courtyard and a 159-square-foot “Virtual Duke” interactive screen—the largest of its kind in North Carolina. The administrative building will hold 40 staff members from the Duke Alumni Association and 10 from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. 

Supported by and designed for alumni, the Karsh Center will be a place for current students to connect with graduates. There are more than 170,000 active alumni.

“We want students to know early on in their Duke journeys that alumni are there for them—that they are willing to give them advice and help them with their next big steps,” Wilder wrote. “We like to say that the Duke experience isn’t just formed in the years that students are here. It’s forever.”

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