Blue Devil initiate: speaking at employee reception. Photo:Les Todd
Blue Devil initiate: speaking at employee reception. Photo:Les Todd

A Connecticut Yankee in Duke's Court

A man of restless intellect applies his administrative acumen to a young university's "outrageous ambitions."
November 30, 2004

When you enter Yale's Sterling Memorial Library, you come across constant reminders of ancient wisdom and treasured tradition: a painting of Alma Mater surrounded by allegorical figures that represent the areas of learning, stone carvings with images of students and scholars, decorative window panes inspired by great literary works, and rows and rows of card catalogues that long ago should have been supplanted by searches in cyberspace.

Shift to Duke's Perkins Library. There, things are being broken apart and made anew. Late this summer, a faculty member was heard to complain that he found it impossible to work on the lower levels. He was confronting the atmospheric upheaval of jack hammering--a particularly noisy part of the process of constructing a Perkins addition.

This is, in a sense, the journey of Richard H. Brodhead, who became Duke's president in July after forty years at Yale as a student, faculty member, and administrator. Brodhead seems intrigued by a certain youthful exuberance that's basic to Duke's makeup. It's not an idea that he invented, he's quick to say. It's how he has perceived Duke talking about itself. "It took me a little while to understand what that meant. The whole point is, it doesn't have anything to do with the chronological age of the university. It has to do, instead, with the way Duke does business and the way Duke faces challenges. You could use many, many positive adjectives to describe Yale. But the word 'young' would not appear on the list."

From his first exposure to Duke, he found the campus "so beautiful in a traditional way," he told a press conference last December, when he was named to the presidency. "But what I really loved was the coexistence of tradition and heady forward progress: all those cranes towering over the Gothic buildings, saying that the building phase at Duke is something of the present and future, not just the past."

So when Brodhead, a restless intellect, meets Duke, he finds a campus possessed of a restless energy--an energy that fuels a constant process of rethinking, retooling, reinventing. Brodhead, the product of a university that has already marked its tercentennial, may have found a perfect match in Duke.

In the months immediately following the December announcement, he visited Duke almost weekly to sharpen his sense of the place and its people. Since taking office, he has been a relentless campus force. In his first days on the job, he joined a gathering of student boosters of Mike Krzyzewski as the men's basketball coach was being wooed by the Los Angeles Lakers. Weeks later, he stood up for the university's tradition of open debate as plans were announced for a controversial Palestinian-rights conference on campus. At a welcoming reception for the new Nasher Museum director, Kimerly Rorschach, he talked about how the museum will be re-imagined and not just relocated. As the semester was starting, he told freshmen, in a convocation address, that a community of mutual respect shouldn't imply "a world of self-neutralized convictions and watered-down consensus." He welcomed graduate students with a message to balance the quest for specialized expertise with an interest in the larger field of "humanly interesting things."

Awaiting procession: Brodhead greets faculty members

 Awaiting procession: Brodhead greets faculty members. Photo:Les Todd

 

The chair of the faculty's Academic Council, Nancy Allen, a professor of medicine and rheumatology and immunology, refers to Brodhead's eloquence, warmth, and "infectious enthusiasm." Allen, who was a member of the presidential search committee, adds, "He displays excitement, genuine intellectual curiosity, a wry sense of humor, and a friendly and open style. He is well on his way to endearing himself to students, alumni, staff, faculty, and parents."

At Yale, Brodhead received his bachelor's degree summa cum laude and with exceptional distinction in English in 1968. Two years later, he earned a master's and, then, in 1972, a Ph.D. in English. As a graduate student, he decided to become an Americanist, with a particular interest in Hawthorne and Whitman. At the time, he recalls, "English literature, and especially poetry, was in the ascendant, so the choice of American and fiction was, as one might say, a minor personal rebellion."

That choice reflected a longstanding literary passion. "There was just a sense that there was something endlessly fascinating and profound in those works," he says. And while he's worked vigorously in textual analysis, he continues to regard literature as "a repository of experiential wisdom, as well as invention and creativity."

Right after earning his Ph.D., Brodhead joined Yale's faculty as an assistant professor of English. He was appointed professor in 1985 and chaired the English department for five years before his selection, in 1993, as dean of Yale College. As dean, he had oversight of undergraduate education and the faculty appointments process, with policy responsibilities in admissions, financial aid, student services, and student life. He was also, beginning in 1995, the A. Bartlett Giamatti Professor of English; the endowed chair honors the former Yale president and commissioner of Major League Baseball.

"I like this place," Brodhead says of Yale, "because it's a place where teaching is taken very seriously. I am first and foremost a teacher. I've become other things later on, too, but that's the bedrock of me." Even as an administrator, he has been a teacher. Administration, he once wrote, is "a temporary crossing over from the realm of education proper into the enabling realm of arrangement." He arranged to teach and advise students through most of his years in the Yale deanship; in all of those roles, he was widely seen as an energetic advocate for students.

As dean, Brodhead oversaw areas that on most campuses, Duke included, are distributed among several administrators. And he seems to have been everywhere, from author readings to sports events.

Sports, of course, operate in a different context in Yale. The current shaper of that tradition occupies an office decorated with trophies, aerial views of Yale's playing fields, and a Frederic Remington painting of a Yale-Princeton football match (Remington was Yale Class of 1898 and a football player). In that setting athletics director Tom Beckett talks about Yale stars drafted into the professional ranks, a recent set of Yale Olympians, and four consecutive years of sold-out hockey games. The Brodheads lived so close to the Yale hockey rink that they could hear the rousing cheers every time Yale scored a goal, Beckett points out. "He's an amazing fan. He will be the number-one fan of Duke athletics. That's because he just loves to be there to support the activities that students are passionate about."

In the community: With Watts nursing students at Duke's Durham Regional Hospital

 In the community: With Watts nursing students at Duke's Durham Regional Hospital. Photo:Les Todd

 

Brodhead was appointed to the deanship by Howard Lamar, who was acting president of Yale from 1992 to 1993. Lamar, a well-known historian of the American West and also a former dean of Yale College, had, early on, identified Brodhead as an up-and-comer. "He was, and is, an incredibly successful teacher, and so his classes were always large and popular. He's one of the most eloquent lecturers and public speakers that Yale has known in several generations."

Even so, Yale had the reputation for not awarding tenure to its own graduates. Early in his career, Brodhead received offers of tenured positions at other universities. Lamar recalls that "he had received a splendid offer from elsewhere, and he came to see me, and we had a very frank talk. And I said that he must ride this one out. In fact, I believe I said, 'One day you will be chairman of the English department,' which expressed my own faith that he was going to get tenure and promotion. Well, he listened to that, I guess, because he stayed. And just within two years or so after that, he was on his way."

He was on his way to a chairmanship and then a deanship that put him in constant contact with other academic administrators. Susan Hockfield, a neuroscientist who is Yale's provost, says Brodhead embodies two essential Yale qualities--intellectual curiosity and intellectual generosity. "It is incredibly rare to run into someone on this campus who isn't interested in learning about the thing that you're thinking about deeply." The Yale culture, she says, values "an appreciation on each person's part that we are all simultaneously teachers and students. It leads to a kind of pedagogy in normal conversation." (Hockfield, like Brodhead, will be learning about a new campus: In August, she was named president of M.I.T. Her predecessor as Yale's provost is now vice chancellor of the University of Cambridge. Yale is clearly continuing its historical role of nurturing future educational leaders.)

One outgrowth of that Yale culture was the "Report on Yale College Education," issued in the spring of 2003. It was the culmination of a year-and-a-half self-study, the most extensive review of Yale's undergraduate academic program in at least three decades. Brodhead chaired the self-study committee and wrote the final report, which included a new look at science for nonscientists, an effort to broaden international experience and integrate it better with the curriculum, a call to increase opportunities for the study of the arts, and proposed reforms to undergraduate advising. Hockfield calls the report a demonstration of Brodhead's knack for consensus building, not just consensus gathering. "He's just remarkable at being able to persuade people to go in a direction they might not have seen," she says. Such persuasive qualities, in her view, come from a combination of impressive interpersonal skills and an obvious "striving for academic excellence."

Now Brodhead's old deanship is in the hands of another longtime Yale presence, Peter Salovey, who had been dean of the graduate school. Says Salovey of his colleague, "Dick is someone who is able to articulate the mission of the college, and in many ways the mission of the university, as clearly as anyone can on this campus. Both the clarity of his thinking and his eloquence remind us on an ongoing basis why we do what we do."

A former chair of Yale's psychology department, Salovey is known for originating the concept of "emotional intelligence," which involves, among other things, the ability to use emotions to motivate oneself and others. "Dick is one of the most emotionally intelligent people I know," he says. "He has an amazingly synthetic and analytic mind. And it goes without saying that he's an inspiring orator. But it's also the case that he is a warm and genuine and empathetic human being who very much cares about what's on the minds of other people and the feelings of other people. He makes connections with people. And he does that, I think, by listening and by genuinely appreciating on an emotional level what it is that makes people tick."

Salovey talks about Brodhead's rallying the Yale community last year after several students were killed in a car accident. "He brought the undergraduates together in the gym, and he just looked at them and said, 'In all my years at Yale, this is the darkest day I can remember.' It was clear that he was feeling much of what they were feeling. And it was comforting to the students to see that this was a difficult situation for their dean, that he was trying to do the best he could, and that they should, too. He was reaching out to other people, and they should reach out, too."

Salovey says that Brodhead will relish succeeding a Duke leader whose term was widely considered a success. The Duke presidency of Nannerl O. Keohane coincided with Brodhead's Yale deanship. "Certainly, when things are awful, one is in a position to pick low-hanging fruit, fix a few things, and look quickly like a hero," says Salovey. "But that's a kind of superficial success. I think it's actually a gift to inherit a situation that is really good, so that you don't have to spend huge amounts of time repairing damage and overhauling something dysfunctional. It lets one take chances. It lets one imagine the future in an unfettered, unencumbered way. The reality is, good things transcend the particular leader; everyone agrees they're good things and is committed to keeping them. I think the challenge for Dick is saying, 'Okay, what else? What else can we do?' "

Such ambitions to improve are familiar to Yale's president, Richard Levin. An economist who also has done advanced study in politics and philosophy, Levin has led Yale in initiatives that have familiar resonance at Duke: major investments in the community, which have helped erase the old image of New Haven as a down-and-out city; an "internationalized" curriculum, including greater numbers of foreign-born students and relationships with institutions overseas; an emphasis on building up the sciences, in terms of facilities, new hires, and curricular focus alike. Through all of that, Yale has continued to place undergraduate education at the core of its mission.

Among their Yale colleagues, Levin and Brodhead were known to be close partners in leadership. Levin points out that the two of them have been on roughly the same track. They were born ten days apart, in 1947. They both went to graduate school at Yale, joined the faculty there in the early Seventies, and became department chairs about a decade later. "And so we've kind of grown up together on the faculty."

"Dick is an overwhelming public presence," Levin says. "He's one of the greatest speakers you'll ever hear. I'm less the public speaker, more the problem solver, a behind-the-scenes kind of person. But I think those strengths have tended to complement one another pretty effectively. And I think we have shared values. If you read our addresses to the freshmen side by side, you'll find that the styles are very different, but the content--the message--is very similar. We both believe that students should be pushed to explore, think for themselves, try new things, to not worry too much about competitive success, but to be open to change and new ideas."

Employee benefits: Jimmie Smith, from Duke's electrical shop, greets the president

Employee benefits: Jimmie Smith, from Duke's electrical shop, greets the president. Photo:Jim Wallace

 

At Yale, Brodhead was steeped in the sorts of activities--student services, residential life, admissions, alumni relations, fund raising--that underpin an institution, Levin says. As he was going through the Duke search process, Brodhead looked to Levin as an adviser. "I think it was a hard decision," Levin says, "not because he had much hesitancy about Duke being an attractive place. He was very much attracted to it. I think the hard part of the decision was letting go of Yale. I mean, it's been his life for his entire adulthood."

Duke appeals to Brodhead, Levin suggests, in part because the Yale curriculum review seemed an appropriate culminating point. More than that, Duke brings an intellectual challenge; for Brodhead, it's something new to master. "Duke is not another Ivy League school. And I think the idea that Duke was less familiar in some ways made it attractive to him," Levin says. "I think he's approaching this in the spirit that he demands of our freshmen every year. That is, he's thinking that he should be wide open to the newness of the experience, that he should try to absorb it and appreciate it."

As Brodhead absorbed Yale's culture, he helped set the appropriate tone for the campus, according to another colleague and a scholar of American religion, Jon Butler. Brodhead, he says, "has a sense of the whole," and particularly the importance of teaching and the intellectual growth of students. Formerly chair of the history department, the university's largest department, Butler is succeeding Peter Salovey as dean of the graduate school. "It isn't that Dick is a pacifier. It's that he has a capacity to speak to the larger purposes that a university serves. I think people have always found his judgment to be, first of all, trustworthy, and secondly, astute. In the end, what comes into play is that people trust him. Maybe they're not sure they really want to do something, but they'll do it because of the process that Dick has led."

"Everything he's done at Yale--as a professor, as a chair of a department, as dean of Yale College--has been directed toward intellectual growth, whether it's personal or in his department or in the college as a whole," Butler adds. "He could have kept writing on Hawthorne and Melville, and to great effect, I'm sure. But he'd always suggest that people try new things, and he was always trying new things." In his scholarship, Brodhead has never been "plowing the same ground over and over again."

That's a scholarly assessment validated by the current chair of the English department, Ruth Yeazell, who is beginning her fourteenth year at Yale. "He's legendary as a lecturer," she says of Brodhead. "Anyone who hears him lecture would know, instantaneously, why. And when I first came to this department, he probably was the person with the single largest number of graduate students working with him. A little bit of that has to do with the field, with people being interested in nineteenth-century American literature. But a lot of it had to do with Dick's powers as a teacher and his responsiveness to students."

As department chair, Brodhead kept up Yale's "very strong collective sense of our devotion to literature at the core," Yeazell says. "That may seem banal and obvious--what else can an English department be?" But other departments, she says, have suffered from identity crises. (Brodhead led an external review of Duke's English department in the 1980s; among other things, the review led to a tightening of requirements for graduation.)

According to Yeazell, Brodhead has remained faithful to the tradition of close reading--the detailed analysis of texts--while "moving out to larger cultural and historical contexts." He has also "worked back and forth between unquestionably canonical writers and writers who have only more recently been discovered or rediscovered," she says.

Brodhead's 1986 book, The School of Hawthorne, is an ambitious effort to discover the historical and cultural context behind literary works. His aim is to "establish the centrality of Hawthorne to a line of writers virtually unbroken from his time into modernity," as he writes in the preface. "I understand the literary history of Hawthorne's tradition to be inseparable from the history of how literature itself has been organized as a cultural system in America." The book goes on to explore the creation of literary establishments, how those literary establishments interpret the literary past, and how they contribute to literary careers.

His interest in individual authors persists, but the range of authors included in his scholarly reach has grown considerably. He points to the cultural forces set in motion in the Sixties, especially the civil-rights and women's movements, as having transformed his field--and his own scholarship. He has sought out the once-absent voices of women, African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and others. One of his recent interests is Charles W. Chestnutt, the principal African-American author of the post-Civil War generation. Chesnutt grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina; the two collections of his writings that Brodhead edited were published by Duke University Press.

Brodhead's enthusiasm for welcoming new insights into literary study--moderated by his concern for preserving standards--is highlighted in an essay published in the Yale Alumni Magazine just over a decade ago. In the essay, he celebrated "a widening of the field of knowledge" that comes from the profession's embrace of traditions across cultures. But he warned that a curriculum driven solely by an interest in inclusion could degenerate into "high-minded tokenism" whereby literary values are diminished, could promote "a kind of romance of gender and ethnicity" that imposes absoluteness on group identities, and could eliminate from consideration works of quality that defy ready-made categories. The educational task, he concluded, is to embrace multiculturalism while subjecting it to "the fullest possible exercise of intelligence, imagination, curiosity, and self-criticism."

It was the elite Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, that first allowed Brodhead the full exercise of his intelligence, says Jock Reynolds, who was a year ahead of him there and now heads the Yale Art Gallery. (Brodhead was born in Dayton, Ohio. His parents moved to Fairfield, Connecticut, when he was six.) Brodhead graduated from Andover in 1964; in the fall of 1962, Time magazine put Andover's headmaster on the cover, with a story on "Excellence and Intensity in U.S. Prep Schools." As the story put it, "From his squeaky-voiced arrival to his bass-toned departure, the Andover boy (or 'man') gets an exemplary education." As an Andover student, Brodhead was "studious, outgoing, with a wonderful wit and sense of humor," Reynolds says. "And kind--as long as I've known Dick, he's been a kind and considerate person. He never was the sort of person who wielded his considerable intellect and academic accomplishments over other people."

Andover gave Brodhead an early, in-depth exposure to the visual arts, says Reynolds, who, before his Yale directorship, headed Andover's Addison Gallery. "Dick has had a great respect for what these collections at libraries and museums can do in the life of a student--in the lives of faculty members. So if you look, for example, at the curriculum report, it has very strong recommendations for expanding Yale's already phenomenal commitment to the arts. I don't think you could ask for a president more arts-friendly or more understanding of the role the arts can play in the university."

Yale in the Sixties was going through a period of rapid change under President Kingman Brewster. If Brewster isn't precisely a role model for Brodhead, he looms large as an exemplary educational leader. "He was a figure of courage and imagination," Brodhead recalls. "He was willing to set new priorities and to defend them. He was a person who had a great human touch, who was interested in students and faculty. He didn't seek out national debate, but he didn't shrink from it. And he carried it all off with an air of dignity and joy."

A close observer of the Yale scene, Geoffrey Kabaservice (Yale '88), sees similarities between Brewster and Brodhead. Kabaservice is the author of a massive study of Brewster and his circle, The Guardians. "Brewster had an unfeigned interest in the person he was talking to," he says. "He really did go into each conversation with every person believing that they were worth listening to and worth respecting. He was able to convey that kind of respect. And I do see that same characteristic in Dick Brodhead. I think that's part of what made him such a popular dean at Yale." Kabaservice wonders whether Brodhead will follow Brewster's example of seizing higher education's bully pulpit. Brewster "really was a spokesman for higher education in a way that doesn't exist right now," he says. "I mean, he was on the cover of Time and Newsweek in the same week."

Blue Devil initiate: speaking at employee reception

Blue Devil initiate: speaking at employee reception. Photo:Les Todd

 

Brewster's Yale was a breeding ground for future leaders, including Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton, George Pataki, John Kerry, and George W. Bush. Bush, speaking at Yale's 2001 commencement, made a self-deprecating reference to his Yale links with then-Dean Brodhead. "I remember him as a young scholar, a bright lad, a hard worker. We both put a lot of time in at the Sterling Library, in the reading room, where they have those big leather couches. We had a mutual understanding--Dick wouldn't read aloud, and I wouldn't snore."

That leaders-in-the-making roster reflects Brewster's own sense of public duty, says Kabaservice. "Brewster, throughout the Sixties, was telling undergraduates that it was right and proper for them to protest against authority if they thought it was unjust. But something else that he was telling them was that they needed to see themselves, even at that young age, as people with responsibilities. It was fine to protest against a system, but in some sense you had to try to keep the protest in the system."

Yale was increasing its enrollment of minority students, solidifying a policy of need-blind admissions (meaning that admissions decisions were made independent of applicants' ability to afford tuition), and finding for the first time that public-school graduates were outnumbering prep-school graduates in the entering classes. "The class I was in was already the product of a kind of revolution," Brodhead says. "And more revolutions were to come."

For his part, Kabaservice says that while the Sixties produced upheavals at Yale, as in the larger culture, there were plenty of positive points--a willingness to question assumptions built into the college curriculum, a desire to inspire the nation to live up to its ideals. "Most of the people who were at Yale at that time weren't wild-eyed radicals," he says. "But at the same time, they were hardly impervious to what was taking place at Yale and beyond. Maybe they were destined to end up in three-piece suits. But that doesn't mean that they left Yale the same kind of people they were when they entered."

Those tumultuous times shaped Brodhead's values, says Steve Weisman, one of Brodhead's fellow English majors at Yale, now chief diplomatic correspondent for The New York Times. "He has this sense of civilization and society and the importance of understanding people who are from different backgrounds and have strongly different views. He believes a university has to be a place where everyone talks to each other and feels comfortable listening to each other."

Weisman talks about literary study at the time as a sort of intense intellectual battle--almost a sporting event. "If you presented a paper or even a thought in class, you had to be prepared to defend it," he says. "This wasn't just sitting around and discussing poetry in some gauzy way. You were putting out your own work and defending it. And Dick was as good as there was among the people I knew."

Talking about his own Yale studies, Brodhead refers to "brilliant and inspiring teachers. My whole life has been different as a result of them." But he can't resist pondering opportunities not explored. "When I think of my college career, I got wonderful things out of it, but there are benefits I didn't get, from being a little too reserved, a little too shy. Not shy about speaking, but shy about seizing opportunities. Shy about stepping forward to do something that might have been fun to do."

And so it's become a kind of mantra for Brodhead that students should relish intellectual risk-taking. His addresses to Yale freshmen, some of which are collected in his latest book, The Good of This Place, frequently sound that theme. In one address, he talks about "an addiction to being good at things" as confining students to "the things you're already good at--a sure route to self-limitation." In another, he takes on an exaggerated attention to grades, saying, "I promise you that no one will say of you when you are forty, 'He is strangely ignorant, but I hear he got good grades at Yale.' " In a third, he identifies an "expectation creep" that has raised "the pressure for high performance" and spread it "deep into the former domain of play." He advises, "As you construct your new life here, it would be well for you to remember that the goal of your activity is wisdom, not mere busyness, and to take pains to see what your involvements are teaching you."

At the Rainbow CafÈ, a full-spectrum sandwich shop that is popular with Yale students, Matt Ferraro, Yale '04, employs a long string of adjectives to define the former dean: "erudite, eloquent, thoughtful, charming." As a senior last year, Ferraro wrote a profile of Brodhead for the Yale Herald, a student publication. He says he still thinks back to Brodhead's address in his freshman year--those familiar Brodhead cadences, that familiar call for intellectual risk-taking, which served to remind students "what we're here to do." Yale students, Ferraro says, saw him as their champion. Brodhead was so student-focused, as he puts it, that "he really did seem like he was one of us."

Two other students say that the classes they had with Brodhead were among their best at Yale. Luke Bronin, a 2001 Yale graduate and later a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, is now a student at the Yale law school. David Noyola is a 2004 Yale graduate.

Bronin took a seminar on the American Prophetic tradition, taught in the Brodhead home. The course represented an intellectual stretch for the students and professor alike, he says; it was built on readings from figures such as Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church, Hawthorne, and Martin Luther King Jr. It drew on literature, history, philosophy, and religion. Noyola studied Faulkner with Brodhead in a tailored, "directed reading" program. He was in awe of his professor's "rhetorical effortlessness," he says. "I remember him discussing Faulkner's 'Bourbon-soaked nihilism.' It was just the perfect description of Faulkner's writing style."

"Yale's only dining room" is the perfect description for the Yale Commons. Four friends, all freshmen, are enjoying a late lunch. They joke that, after hearing of Brodhead's elevation to the Duke presidency, they avidly e-mailed their Duke friends with a common message: "Damn you, you're stealing our dean!" One of them expresses her disappointment that he won't be speaking at their graduation. All of them mention a fabled episode: Brodhead and the Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) machine.

The impetus for that episode came from David Edelman, now a Yale sophomore. At a residential-college dinner last year, Brodhead had asked Edelman what he did in his spare time. Edelman mentioned the DDR game, which requires players to follow dance moves shown on a screen by stepping on corresponding arrow pads. Players then move through a number of levels that increase in speed and difficulty. Brodhead evidently was intrigued; in his freshman-class address, he referred to "the formidable expertise developing in Bingham Hall in Dance Dance Revolution, not yet an accredited academic program." Edelman proceeded to invite Brodhead to a DDR demonstration, and then to invite his friends to what he dubbed "the first annual DDR Faculty Invitational."

Brodhead and his wife, Cynthia, showed up for the demonstration, though, as Edelman puts it, "Dean Brodhead doesn't play DDR, he just supervises the playing." That started a mentoring relationship, in which Brodhead helped guide Edelman on matters ranging from his interest in becoming a campus tour guide to his push to carve out study space for undergraduates.

"He always had a willingness to invest himself in things that maybe weren't in his job description but that could improve the quality of life and the quality of education for undergraduates," says Edelman. "He was relentlessly dedicated to making our lives better." It might seem unusual for a student to celebrate a curriculum review, but Edelman sees it as Brodhead's capstone achievement at Yale.

"He worked absolutely tirelessly to make the Yale education everything people believed it should be," he says. "His expectations for this place were always higher than anyone's. He had faith in things that he was a part of, and that faith was contagious."

It was a crowd of older Yale students, graduating seniors, who listened in late May to Brodhead's baccalaureate address, his final speech as dean of Yale College. The speech was meant to comfort them in their choices and to provoke them into becoming citizens of the world. "When you came ashore at your last terra incognita, you may have felt at a loss, but then something kicked in--some mix of courage, spirit, curiosity, and desire--that helped you go forward to meet this unknown place, engage its challenges, and make it your own," he told them. Stepping out beyond familiar confines will bring anxiety, he said. Yet that is the only way to grow, the only way to make a difference and thereby to make a life.

It was a powerful baccalaureate charge. And, in a sense, it was the departing Yale dean's charge to the new president of Duke University.