Provost, political scientist, avid learner, team builder, music lover
Describe yourself in three words:
Humorous, direct, analytic
Describe Duke in three words:
Ambitious, entrepreneurial, self-critical
It's an institution in constant change and improvement. It's not at all the same place it was when I came here, but it's not even the same place it was five years ago. I always felt I could grow here. I've learned a tremendous amount on this job.
photo by Chris Hildreth
What one thing would you change about Duke?
I think we're still too often self-doubting as an institution. I don't mean we should be complacent, because we can't afford to be complacent in any way. But I think we sometimes doubt ourselves more than we should-in what we're able to accomplish, in what we have accomplished.
Who is your favorite person?
It depends on how you think about the question. If I was going in the music direction, because I love music, I might say, Bruce Springsteen or John Coltrane. If I was going in a more who's-a-person-who's-inspired-me direction, I would say the last two or three years of Bobby Kennedy's life. I have a lot of admiration for tough-minded people who effectively are trying to advance ideals, but who are also results-oriented.
What do you value?
I value energy. I value leadership in people. I value humor a great deal, a sense of irony, warmth.
In his words:
I love my job. I get up in the morning because I love to come to work. I love the challenge of interacting on a regular basis with really smart people about difficult problems. As a professor, your rewards come from knowing a relatively narrow range of topics extremely deeply and sophisticatedly. As a provost, you have to know about an enormous range of topics at least a little bit. And I love that this job is a constant learning process. When President Keohane gave me my final interview for the job as provost, she said, "Well, I want to offer you the job." And I said something like, "Well, that's great, Nan, this is going to be fun." She said, "Fun?" And I said, "Yeah, it's going to be fun." And it has been fun.