Daniel Joseph Watt was everything to me. He was my partner, my best friend and the apex of my every day. He was so loved. I remember our exact conversation when he was offered the Residence Coordinator position at Duke University. He was so happy and beyond thrilled to join the Duke community. When he moved into Kilgo, he fell in love with his office and decorated it as soon as possible. He wanted his staff to be able to come in and feel welcomed. He wanted to cultivate a space where people felt like they belonged. Values he would bring with him when he moved to Edens.
He was so proud of his previous staff members in Kilgo, Hollows B and Edens. Whether you have graduated or moved to another area, he cared so much about you and your success. He loved working with his staff assistants in the main office, making it a point to stop by just to say hello. He talked so fondly of the facility and housekeeping staff in both Kilgo and Edens; he was thankful for you and all you do. He also had the opportunity to be an Academic Advisor at Duke and I remember just recently he told me they asked him to take another student and he was beyond excited. He really hoped he was making a difference at Duke, and from what I can tell, he was.
Daniel was passionate about life. He loved basketball, cheese pizza, anime and gaming. His friends and family meant so much to him. He was an advocate for others and consistently challenged people to do better, be better. He relentlessly pursued knowledge and personal growth. He was committed to furthering racial justice and infusing that and social justice into the work that he did and the life that he lived.
To those of you reading this who would have been on his incoming Edens staff or living in Edens this year, I simply cannot explain how excited he was to be your RC. As his partner, he consistently shared his desire of making Edens the place to be. A place where each and every one of you would feel included and connected to Edens and the overall Duke community. I invite you to continue to build that sense of community he felt so passionately about creating. And a final note to his staff, he selected each of you intentionally for the knowledge, talent, and gifts you would bring to the community. He believed in you and that you are going to continue to do great things.
To his Duke colleagues, trust me when I say you would have had a lot of lunches on your calendar this year. Feeling connected to you all and creating a sense of belonging was important to him. He felt empowered to create change and appreciated the encouragement and trust he received from HRL and Student Affairs leadership.
To his RC team, he cherished you. He believed in you. And he wanted nothing but the best for each of you. Thank you for the generosity and love you continue to show us. I look forward to staying connected with you and sharing stories about him.
And to the entire Duke community, keep his light and love in all you do in this world. He would have wanted that.
Rest in peace and in power, my love.
If you would like to submit a tribute to Daniel Joseph Watt, you can read about how to do so here.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.