Duke’s icons are the people everyone knows—for their kindness, passion, talent or intellect. They are the people who you will see on the BC Plaza or plastered across the television in Krafthouse.
The icons on this year’s Chron15 list are athletes, staff and faculty who are beloved by the University community. They spread joy, knowledge and Blue Devil pride.
Coach K and Coach
The 2021-22 Duke men’s basketball season was many things, but most of all it was an ode to Coach K. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced prior to the season that it would be his last with the team after over four decades at the helm and five national championships, and at every step throughout, those in proximity to the team took the chance to honor what he has done for the sport of basketball. From personalized gifts at nearly every away game to endless articles and media—though Krzyzewski himself said he wanted the season to still be about the team—it was impossible not to see the season in a different light given his forthcoming retirement.
After a supremely successful season that saw the Blue Devils win an ACC regular-season championship and go to Krzyzewski’s 13th NCAA tournament Final Four—the most by a single coach in NCAA history—the Blue Devils lost in the Final Four to North Carolina. Krzyzewski’s head coaching career was over.
The team thought he could use a companion in his retirement years. Before the start of the 2021-22 season, Krzyzewski’s beloved Labrador Retriever, Blue, died. Though he took the season to focus on basketball, in March, Krzyzewski told the News and Observer, “I miss my dog.” Then, at the team banquet in April, team captain Wendell Moore Jr., presented Krzyzewski with a Labrador puppy named none other than Coach. Though nothing can truly repay Coach K’s contributions, at the very least he will get to spend his well-earned retirement surrounded by those he loves: his wife Mickie, his family and now, man’s best friend
- Sasha Richie, Vol. 118 sports managing editor
Have you visited the Duke Puppy Kindergarten? Maybe you attended one of their many events. Did the puppies visit your dorm? Perhaps you know a volunteer at the kindergarten or even happen to volunteer yourself. If so, then you can thank Vanessa Woods.
Woods is a New York Times best-selling author, an award-winning journalist and a research scientist in the department of evolutionary anthropology, but on Duke’s campus, she is best known for her role as director of the Duke Puppy Kindergarten. There, Woods organizes volunteering and outreach for the puppies, and she does an amazing job of it—she knows all the hundreds of past and present volunteers by name, interest, majors and more; she arranges DPK events for everyone from law students to pediatric nurses, and she ensures that the puppies are happy, healthy and bringing joy to everyone around them.
Woods’ job brings her into constant contact with the Duke community and beyond. It is a good thing then that science outreach is one of Woods’s greatest talents, as she a former winner of the Australian Science award for journalism. She seemingly pops up anywhere interested audiences may lie—60 Minutes, Washington Post articles, PBS, the Smithsonian Magazine—so clearly she’s an expert at getting the public interested in science. On campus, Woods serves as a role model for both high schoolers and college students interested in science and research, and she will readily encourage anyone to get involved in any way they can. Her impact as an icon and leader in the Duke community and even beyond can not be understated—ask anyone who’s visited or volunteered at the Duke Puppy Kindergarten, and they will readily agree.
- Jonathan Pertile, Vol. 118 recess editor
John Rose serves as associate director of the Civil Discourse Project and as an instructor in the Kenan Institute of Ethics, but his impact on the Duke community goes far beyond his formal job titles.
Through his courses, Civil Discourse Project programming and more, Rose creates spaces on campus in which students can regularly engage in conversations on controversial political topics with peers and experts who may hold vastly differing opinions.
A champion of intellectual diversity and freedom of thought on campus, he encourages students to engage in collective thought, discussion and disagreement, an especially pressing mission in today’s increasingly polarized political climate.
To foster such open forums, Rose makes sure his students know that they won’t face any social or professional penalties for the opinions they voice, and tells students to assume that all opinions are being offered in goodwill.
Beyond these contributions, Rose’s personal demeanor and approachability make him a beloved member of the Duke community. Exceptionally attentive to students, Rose cares about them beyond their academics. In a class of 80 people, he remembered personal details about me after a single conversation, for instance. By consistently making time for “coffee chats,” he welcomes conversations of all kinds, helping students who seek him out truly understand how welcoming the Duke community can be.
- Andrew Nguyen, Trinity ’22
DeWayne Carter wears the number 90, is a legend from Ohio and an icon at Duke and in Durham. When I walk from practice to class with Carter, he always stops and shares a smile and a laugh with everyone he passes. On top of his academic and athletic pursuits, Carter has continuously found ways to give back to the Durham community through volunteering with local schools.
Carter has worked exceptionally hard in school, twice earning a spot on the ACC Academic Honor Roll. He is an excellent defensive player, grasping an All-ACC selection player in his junior season. Carter was also a recipient of the Ace Parker Award, an annual award to an individual who demonstrates unwavering devotion to the team and perseveres in the face of adversity to contribute. As a captain of the Duke football team, his commanding voice inspires his teammates and classmates to believe in themselves. Carter is the face of a bright future for Duke Football.
As the Public Relations Chair for Duke United Black Athletes, Carter amplifies the platform of Black student athletes. Carter also represents Duke Football on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, connecting Duke’s athletic teams and creating a cohesive and supportive environment among the sports community at the University.
Carter dreams of becoming a middle or high school principal to inspire young students. He volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, tutored for KIPP Durham College Prep, and tutored for Ignite! Online Academy. In addition, he coached a little league baseball team in Durham, leading many young athletes to succeed in their eyes.
Carter has changed lives in the Duke and Durham community. From sharing a laugh with a classmate, supporting a teammate to encouraging a young scholar or athlete, he always inspires those around him and encourages people to achieve their dreams.
- Calib Perez, Trinity ’24 and offensive lineman for Duke Football
Thompson Writing Program Lecturing Fellows
For as long as can be, every undergraduate Duke student has had to take WRITING 101 in their first year. For many of them, the course has been a transformative experience.
Offered through the Thompson Writing Program and taught by its lecturing fellows, WRITING 101 classes are geared to teach students the skills needed for academic writing throughout one’s college education. But instead of teaching these skills as an end in itself, the TWP was founded in 2000 with the goal of teaching students how to write within the context of a discipline.
This thematic approach—revolutionary for its time—is what earned the TWP a number two ranking among “Writing in the Disciplines Programs” according to US News and World Report. The backbone of the TWP is its lecturing fellows. The fellows were hired to teach these discipline-based writing courses because of their doctoral training in a specific field, ranging from anthropology to ecology.
The fellows were originally recruited to Duke on a promise that their positions would be similar to postdoctoral fellowships that would set them up for a career elsewhere. However, they didn’t receive any of the training that a postdoctoral fellow would. And so they unionized in 2016 and negotiated with the University for renewable contracts as they felt that they were teaching faculty rather than trainees.
Though renewability was won for some fellows in 2017, the TWP is restructuring itself to focus on rhetoric and composition instead of disciplinary writing, and the new classes of fellows will need different qualifications consistent with this new goal. Current fellows claim this is simply to push out the remaining fellows fighting for renewability and to bust the TWP cluster of the Duke Faculty Union by changing the educational requirement of the new positions and ensuring they are non-unionized.
As this happens, the iconic program that Duke students—past and present—know and love, is changing. By how much, exactly, remains to be seen.
- Adway Wadekar, Vol. 118 university news editor
To see the rest of this year’s Chron15 selections, click here.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.