From the welcoming of a new University president to the softball team’s inaugural season, the Class of 2021’s first year on campus was an eventful one.
Shortly after President Vincent Price took office in July as Duke's 10th president, he faced a controversial decision about the vandalism of the Robert E. Lee statue outside the Chapel.
Price ordered the statue's removal and launched a Commission on Memory and History in September to recommend a replacement. In November, he accepted the commission’s recommendation to leave the spot at the Chapel's entrance open for the time being.
Price was formally inaugurated as Duke's president at an October ceremony on Abele Quadrangle, followed by a reception in the Brodhead Center. The night before the inauguration, the PricePalooza took place on East Campus. The event featured a ferris wheel, inflatables and food.
In another important leadership change, Jack Bovender, Trinity '67 and Graduate School '69, became the new chair of the Board of Trustees. He took the helm from David Rubenstein, Trinity '70, who stepped away after serving as chair since 2013.
In early September, a Duke LifeFlight helicopter crashed in eastern North Carolina. A memorial service took place Sept. 20 in the Chapel for the four people who died in the crash.
Housing became a topic of serious discussion after Larry Moneta, then vice president for student affairs, announced in late September that 2018-19 would be the last year undergraduate students lived on Central Campus.
Steve Schewel, Trinity ‘73 and a professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy, became the mayor of Durham after winning the November election. He appointed Jillian Johnson, Trinity '03 and his former student, as his mayor pro tempore.
After President Donald Trump announced plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Duke students established a chapter of Define American, an organization that provided support for DACA students and their allies. Later in November, some of the students traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby members of Congress to fight for protections for those at risk of deportation.
In late November, the men's basketball team kicked off their season with a come-from-behind victory against Florida to win the PK80 Invitational’s Motion Bracket in Portland, Ore. They eked out the victory by three points, beating the Gators 87-84. Duke would make it to the Elite Eight of March Madness before losing to Kansas in overtime.
Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski reached his 1,000th win at Duke in a November triumph over Utah Valley. The team split the regular season rivalry with the Tar Heels before falling to them in the ACC tournament semifinals. Grayson Allen closed out his career in Cameron with a win over the rivals on senior night, but the walk-up line for the game got a bit out of hand.
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Over winter break, Duke's football team beat Northern Illinois in the Quick Lane Bowl to take its second bowl win in three years. Duke, which finished the season 7-6, closed the season on a three-game winning streak—the first time since 1962.
In October, Price threw the first Duke softball pitch in the University’s history as softball officially became the University's 27th varsity sport. The Blue Devils finished the regular season ranked seventh in the ACC and gained their first All-ACC honoree as sophomore pitcher Raine Wilson was named to the conference's first team. First-years Rachel Abboud and Peyton St. George were also named to the conference's All-Freshman team.
The Rubenstein Arts Center, a new arts facility on campus, began operations in February with an opening party that drew a crowd of over 3,000 visitors. Rubenstein funded the creation of the new arts center with a $25 million gift.
Throughout the year, several high profile public figures visited campus.
Reince Priebus, former White House chief of staff to Trump, discussed the 2016 election and his service in Trump's White House when he spoke on campus in December. Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Convention, talked about the evolution of the party when he visited in April, and Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rev. William Barber II packed the Chapel for their rescheduled April talk on a moral economy.
Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, visited campus in April to talk about Russian relations and the U.S. embassy in Israel. Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, stopped by in May to discuss political risk.
During alumni weekend in April, approximately 25 students took the stage as President Vincent Price stood at the podium. The students, affiliated under the People's State of the University, presented a dozen demands for the University. The Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards sent notices to these students about possible disciplinary action but eventually chose to informally resolve the cases.
The end of the year was marked by racial incidents. A student was called out on the Duke Memes for Gothicc Teens Facebook page for using a racial slur in a Snapchat. A student resident of the 300 Swift apartment complex had a racial epithet written across her door, and a pair of anti-Semitic posters were found along the East Campus wall and sidewalk.
In May, it was reported that two baristas at Joe Van Gogh were fired due to the explicit lyrics in a rap song that was playing when Moneta entered the store to buy a muffin.