Duke administrators and alumni gathered in Page Auditorium on Thursday evening to formally announce the Duke Climate Commitment, an initiative addressing climate change supported by $36 million in initial gifts.
Thursday’s formal announcement featured Duke President Vincent Price and conversations with University alumni and climate leaders. Also featured were pre-recorded videos of prominent figures, including John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Fuqua ’88, Durham Deputy City Manager Bertha Johnson and Mike Krzyzewski, former head coach of Duke’s men's basketball.
The announcement for the Duke Climate Commitment focused on university-wide, national and international climate and sustainability challenges, emphasizing Duke’s commitment to addressing them.
“We're developing Duke as a living laboratory to study and solve climate and sustainability challenges,” Price said. “And perhaps, most importantly, we are supporting environmental sustainability in the community and advancing our understanding of the critical impacts of climate on social and racial equity.”
Duke aims to unite its education, research, operations and public service missions while addressing four focus areas: energy transformation, climate and community resilience, environmental and climate justice and data-driven climate solutions.
Duke’s 2011 Sustainability Strategic Plan and 2009 Climate Action Plan previously laid out the University’s approach to climate change. The new commitment, according to the event’s speakers, aligns with previous plans.
Giving at Duke, the University’s alumni donation organization, broke down Duke Climate Commitment’s $36 million donated initial funds. $5 million come from the Duke Endowment, $25 million from the Nicholas family and over $6 million combined from five donor families.
The event also featured three live alumni discussions, which touched on a variety of topics including bipartisan climate policy, the clean energy transitions, environmental justice and leveraging entrepreneurship and venture capital to solve the climate crisis.
Krzyzewski, during his remarks, spoke about Duke’s “offensive” and “defensive” roles in addressing climate change and called for unification across “the whole Duke team.”
“Together we have the opportunity today to chart a different course at Duke,” Price said during his closing remarks. “We have the talented students and staff. We have the global network of extraordinary alumni. And we have an obligation as an employer and history has prepared us for this moment. And that is why we must succeed and that is why we will succeed. Duke is in it together for life.”
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