Between the Lines: March-April 2004

March 31, 2004

Numbers can be boring, but they also can be telling. The total raised for the Campaign for Duke, more than $2.3 billion, signals a lot about Duke's reach.

Back when the campaign was announced in the fall of 1998, officials pointed out that the university would have to raise funds at a rate of about $2.78 million each week. That hard-to-fathom figure reflected the original, more modest, campaign goal--$1.5 billion. By the time the campaign closed on December 31, Duke had more than met a revised $2-billion goal and also had received the largest-ever gift in its history, $72 million, from Pete and Ginny Nicholas, both Class of '64.

The Nicholas gift will make a strong mark, appropriately enough, on the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences. A dozen years ago, this was the nation's first "school of the environment." Now, the vision calls for a new component, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. The school's dean, William H. Schlesinger, sees the institute fulfilling a national need for sound and unbiased science applied to the shaping of environmental policy. He says the school should be "the first stop for expertise on many important issues."

A campaign is about raising money--lots and lots of it. But it's also about figuring out a university's direction. Through the span of this campaign, and owing in no small part to the resources raised in the campaign, Duke has become more and more outward-looking.

The ambitions of the Nicholas School are just one indication of how this consuming and comprehensive effort has fueled Duke's desire, and ability, to make an impact. The cover story illustrates some of the ways in which those who form the Duke community are engaging with urgent issues. Other features drive home the same point: Whether documenting the history of labor or celebrating the tradition of jazz, Duke interacts with the world, and the world with Duke, more avidly than ever.