Sterly Wilder ’83, associate vice president for alumni affairs, talks with NBA star (and former Duke basketball standout) Grant Hill ’94, who now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers.
SW: I was your pre-major adviser, and we met the first day you were on campus. Do you remember whether I gave you a hard time?
GH: I probably gave you the harder time. But if there was any nervousness on my part as a new student, you made me feel comfortable. I don’t know whether I ever officially thanked you for the time we went shopping to furnish my apartment. Getting my first off-campus apartment was a big deal.
SW: As a student, how much did you know about the alumni association?
GH: I didn’t realize how organized the alumni association was—how much coordinating activity went into planning events and activities around the world. But I certainly saw intersections between student life and alumni happenings on campus, particularly around Homecoming.
SW: What’s the greatest lesson you took from your undergraduate experience?
GH: Duke expects the best from you in a lot of ways, certainly in the classroom. And for me as a student-athlete, of course, there was a commitment to excellence with life outside the classroom, as well. There were a lot of obstacles and challenges along the way. But life lessons come from those moments when you’re challenged.
SW: How closely do you follow what’s happening on campus today?
GH: Having a mother who’s on the board of trustees is a huge thing in keeping up with a place that gets even better, even more exciting in its academic opportunities, even more inclusive, than it was when I was there. Neither of my parents went to Duke. But they have fallen in love with Duke.
SW: You’ve done everything from opening the Homecoming Dance with President Brodhead to helping produce the film that’s a tribute to Coach Al Buehler. What do you most like doing as a volunteer?
GH: Pretty much everything. I’ve heard our trustee David Rubenstein [’70] say the word “philanthropy” is rooted in the Greek word for love of humanity. Duke alumni share a tight bond; it’s really love of Duke.
SW: What do you look forward to after you retire?
GH: The basic thing I look forward to is visiting campus more frequently. Maybe one day, if they do well enough in school, my two girls will want to apply to Duke. My wife is a recording artist, and both girls are musically inclined. They can hold a note, unlike their father. And watch out—they also both enjoy competing as athletes.