New President: An 'Eloquent Spokesman for Higher Education

January 31, 2004

 

Richard H. Brodhead, dean of Yale College and the A. Bartlett Giamatti Professor of English at Yale University, is Duke's ninth president. The announcement was made December 12 by trustee chair Peter M. Nicholas '64.

Brodhead: Duke's ninth president

Brodhead: Duke's ninth president. Chris Hildreth.

Brodhead is "a scholar with a deep commitment to undergraduate and graduate education, a proven and effective administrator and fund-raiser who understands how research universities work, and an eloquent spokesman about the central role of higher education in American life," Nicholas said. "As one of his faculty colleagues at Yale put it, 'His performance is brilliant. Students love him, the faculty trust him, the alumni are in awe of him.' Duke's trustees are confident that the qualities that have led Dick Brodhead to be so revered in New Haven will also serve him well as our next president."

"I am tremendously excited to join a university that has already established itself in the top rank of institutions, yet is still so up-and-coming," Brodhead said. "Duke is a school with a taste for excellence, the energy and optimism to aspire to it, the dynamism and lightness of foot to actually make required changes, and the ability to avoid complacency in the face of accomplishment.

"Duke's core values are quite close to my own, and I will represent them with real dedication. I also feel the institution would welcome change in the places where I see room for growth. If I can be part of making a very good university even better, it will be a great satisfaction."

Brodhead has been dean of Yale College since 1993, serving as the college's faculty chair and chief administrator. He shares oversight of the faculty appointments process with the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and plays a central role in all tenure appointments and decisions in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. As dean, he also has leadership responsibility for undergraduate education, housing and social life, student services, undergraduate admissions, and financial aid.

Brodhead was the committee's unanimous choice after an intensive review of some 200 candidates, said Robert K. Steel '73, vice chair of the board of trustees, who led the nineteen-member search committee of trustees, faculty and staff members, students, and alumni. "We heard from many people who know Dick--and saw first-hand during our conversations with him--that he is remarkably eloquent and well-versed in the key issues affecting higher education, a careful listener, a thoughtful strategist, an intellectual of great breadth, and a consensus builder of the first rank. And he has a wonderful sense of humor, which is a prerequisite for a university president."

"He has won the respect of the faculty, students, and staff at Yale, leading efforts to revitalize the curriculum, reach out to international students, enhance financial aid, strengthen the arts, and much more," said Sara Sun Beale, Charles L.B. Lowndes Professor of law and the search committee's vice chair. "He is a truly gifted academic leader who is known for developing and nurturing a vibrant intellectual and social community and supporting true excellence in every endeavor."

Brodhead was the first Yale graduate in more than two decades to be named to the deanship, which he has held longer than all but two others in Yale's 302-year history. He received his bachelor's degree summa cum laude and with exceptional distinction in English in 1968, followed two years later by a master's degree and, then, in 1972, by a Ph.D. in English. He joined Yale's faculty as an assistant professor of English the same year. He was appointed professor of English in 1985 and chaired the English department for five years before his selection as dean of Yale College.

Among Brodhead's numerous scholarly honors are Guggenheim, Woodrow Wilson, Danforth, and Morse fellowships. In 2002, he received a presidential appointment to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. He has served on the editorial boards of several publications in the humanities and is the author or editor of more than a dozen books on Hawthorne, Melville, Faulkner, and other American authors--including two books published by Duke University Press. He also chaired the external review committee of Duke's English department in 1991.

When he is not working, reading, spending time with family or friends, or watching intercollegiate athletics, Brodhead enjoys traveling and the outdoors. He characterizes himself as an "avid college sports fan, which I clearly will have an opportunity to experience at Duke."

Brodhead and his wife, Cynthia, an attorney, have been married thirty-three years. They have a son, Daniel, who is a 2001 graduate of Yale.