Honoring Griffith

April 1, 2009
Their honors: Griffiths in eponymous board room.

Their honors: Griffiths in eponymous board room. Shena Sanchez

After a forty-year career at Duke, William Griffith '50 remains a fixture of campus life. The retired vice president for student affairs and his wife, Carol Topham Griffith R.N. '52, both remain active with the Duke and Durham communities.

In January, the couple attended a ceremony to honor the newly renovated Griffith Board Room, a student meeting space in the Bryan Center that was originally dedicated in 1982. The occasion highlighted the William J. and Carol T. Griffith Endowment and the student programs that the endowment has supported.

The list is impressive: The Center for Race Relations, the Graduate and Professional Student Council, Springternational, the Arts Theme House, the Duke Photo Group, and a host of other education- and service-based student groups have benefited from Griffith Endowment funding.

Griffith set the course for the Duke Artists Series and helped forge a national organization for college arts administrators, the National Association of College and University Concert Managers.

He sparked the creation of the Duke Student Union and helped shape it as a national model for cultivating student leadership. Griffith also had a hand in shaping the Duke Student Government, Project WILD, the Community Service Center, the Women's Center, the Black Student Alliance, the Career Development Center, Counseling and Psychological Services, the Publications Board, and many other successful student efforts. In 1992, an award was renamed the William J. Griffith University Service Award  in his honor; it recognizes a select number of graduating students whose contributions to the Duke and larger communities have had a significant impact on the university.

After retiring, Griffith founded and chaired Duke University Retiree Outreach, an organization that engages retirees with local service activities. True to his character, at the rededication ceremony, he said that "the whole university becomes a better place, becomes a greater university because of all of you—students, faculty, administrators—and I'm going to stay around for a long time. I've got to see what's going to happen next."