On behalf of the faculty and staff of Duke University, I am pleased to welcome you to the Duke family. We are thrilled that your students will be joining our campus community, and we share your anticipation in imagining all the ways they will grow and develop over the next four years.
Here at Duke, we take seriously our responsibility to foster an environment that is optimally engineered to support that growth. Duke offers an ever-expanding wonderland of opportunities; we’re also working to renovate some of our historic buildings to provide modern, inviting spaces for students to interact and connect. But your student has a responsibility, too: a responsibility to engage with these opportunities. It will no longer be enough to do the reading, complete the problem set, and show up to class. That would be a poor shadow of a college education; that would be sleepwalking through Duke. We ask our students to do more. That means not just doing the reading before class, but doing the thinking before class. It means arriving prepared to ask questions and tie new ideas to the broader aims of the course. It means seeking out professors in office hours, or extending an invitation to lunch (we give each student a fund to do so). It means taking intellectual risks by enrolling in courses that are new or unfamiliar. It means auditioning for the fall musical, or taking up rowing for the first time, or volunteering to build a website for the residence hall council.
I’m describing ways for your students to stretch themselves. We know that stretching is not always a comfortable experience, and it’s not always easy for a student who has excelled in one environment to make a transition to another. The skills that enabled your student to sail through high school may seem suddenly inadequate. But please help your student to remember, at moments of challenge that may feel frustrating or dispiriting, that Duke does not admit students solely based on what they achieved in high school. We invite students to join our community also because of their potential—what we know they can achieve. And if your students need help unlocking that potential, Duke has support of all kinds to help them stretch to surmount the challenge, increase their confidence, and grow to meet the next hurdle.
Thank you for your role in our partnership to help your student grow in many dimensions. I look forward to the privilege of getting to know Duke’s newest class and watching their growth in the coming years.
Richard H. Brodhead