Have You Heard?

Parents & Families

Academic Advising Model for Trinity College

Dear Parents,

Duke students are empowered to learn and encouraged to lead. Ensuring student success through active support is our highest priority. A Duke education is based on the principle that students develop and grow intellectually and personally through successive, transformational, and diverse learning experiences.

At Duke, a community of mentors surrounds each student. A student has an academic dean, an academic advisor, an advisor in the major, a career counselor, a financial aid counselor, and many other advisors to guide them as they explore the innovative course of study in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences.

We believe that it is important for students to have continuity and direction throughout their years of intellectual growth, achievement, and success at Duke. Therefore, we are forging a stronger, more enduring relationship between students and their academic dean.  

Under the new model, students will have the same academic dean to oversee academic progress for the duration of their academic career at Duke. Each student will work with an academic dean in selecting classes, majors, and other educational opportunities. Trinity College academic deans help assess choices to ensure they are the best fit for a student’s long- and short-term success. Academic deans interpret and implement academic policies, and they are available when challenges arise to help achieve resolution. In addition, the academic deans respond to questions from academic advisors, act as a liaison with each student’s major department, and are experienced in answering a wide range of questions. Academic deans engage in the high-impact advising that students may need from time to time.

Academic deans also celebrate success by recognizing students who make the Dean’s List and connecting them with other opportunities like the Undergraduate Research Support Office and the Dean’s Summer Research Fellowship program. They also help students navigate graduate and professional school opportunities. Trinity College academic deans improve the process of exploration and discernment. We want each student to have one person they can consistently turn to for guidance over the course of their studies in order to ensure an amazing Duke experience.

I am happy to answer any questions you might have on March 31st at 11 a.m. EST in a webinar that you can access here (on this page, you'll be prompted to give your name and e-mail address, and in the event password field type "dukeparents"). I look forward to engaging with you in a deeper discussion on these important and exciting changes we are making at Duke.

Yours Sincerely,

Lee D. Baker


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Duke Parents Sound Off

Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta welcomed Duke Parents Advisory Council (DPAC) members’ thoughts on a recent Slate article involving the debate on college students as children or adults. The article sparked some insightful comments from a multitude of perspectives, as seen below.

Steven Crain, parent of a Class of 2016 student, offered his thoughts on freedom of speech on college campuses:

“In this case, while reasonable limits on “freedom of speech” need to be established in order to protect the rights of others (including freedom to focus on the planned lesson in a classroom, or to not be harassed by insensitive members of a community), we all need to aspire to create a deeper awareness of this inevitable dilemma between “my freedom” and how it impacts on others.”

Beth Gabay, parent of a Class of 2016 student, commented on diversity and student self-efficacy:

“Diversity, tolerance and community are such important keys to a successful university education.  We are all evolving with this ever-changing world that we live in.  We all need to be present and take responsibility for our actions.  It is also so important that we teach our students/children to own their actions and behaviors and not entitle them when they fall.  Consequences are important in the building blocks of life.”

Daphna Gans, parent of a Class of 2018 student, spoke on a generational change in the traditional young adult and how we can support them:

“There is almost no doubt that there has been a shift in the life course in the past few decades leading to a phenomenon professionally termed as the prolongation of adolescence. The lengthening of adolescence, also referred to as "the incompletely launched young adult syndrome", suggests that the period of childhood dependency is elongated. Because of various economic trends and the increasing importance of higher education, young adults may need to spend more time in the education system and delay the start of their career and family formation.”

"At the college level, the focus of the discussion, I think, should be, on how we can help this cohort and provide them with what they need to become successful and contributing adults in the society. Thinking about what we, as a collective group of parents, should have, or could have done differently, may help future cohorts.”

Steve Kaplan, parent of a Class of 2018 student, commented on student growth and encountering diverse populations:

“They are young adults because they are expected to exhibit the responsibility and discretion of an adult, yet show the impulsiveness and poor decision making of youth.  For me the challenge is how to help them bridge that gap.”

“On college campuses today, particularly those that have embraced diversity, I believe there is another set of challenges – depending upon one’s background (race, religion, nationality, gender identification) there may be very different views as to what is proper in the collegiate arena, and also in society.  No doubt administrators and faculty struggle with this, but it also poses challenges for students too as they meet students who are different from those they have known in their first 18 years of life, and also spend time in environs different from what they are familiar with.”

Continue the conversation! Share your thoughts in the comment section below.



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Important Message From Duke Financial Aid

Each year we ask that you submit current tax information, the CSS Profile form and the FAFSA to be considered for financial aid from Duke. We still need these items, but ask that you WAIT to complete the Profile and the FAFSA until after you’ve completed your 2014 tax returns (assuming you will file by the April 15th deadline, or earlier). 
Here’s why. The Profile process is changing and it will be easier and better if you wait.  You will be able to upload your taxes from a PDF and your information will auto-fill the Profile using your tax data. Then, Profile will ask you a number of basic questions (for example: are you still living in the same house?) and avoid asking you questions it doesn’t need an answer to. It should be faster and less frustrating and since your Profile is not due until May 1st, why not take advantage of this opportunity to save time?
For the FAFSA, if you have filed your return, you have the option of retrieving your tax information directly into your FAFSA from the IRS website. This is much easier and more accurate than typing it in. It also means that if you are selected for a time-consuming process called “verification,” we won’t need a tax transcript from the IRS to verify your income information.  So much simpler! 
On both the FAFSA and the Profile, you can use your 2013 income to estimate your 2014 income if you will not file by the April 15th deadline; however, you won’t be able to take advantage of these nifty new time (and headache) saving options. 
Please let us know if you have any questions about this new and improved process. The link to re-apply for aid will be active on the financial aid website after March 9th. Please give us a call at 919-684-6225 or email us at finaid@duke.edu with any questions you have about the new aid process for returning students.
Thank you and Go Duke!
Duke Financial Aid

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Fannie Mitchell Executive Director William Wright-Swadel on Career Security

Writing to parents about the career and professional development process is always a challenging thing to attempt—mostly because on almost every topic the conversation is very different depending on the student and his/her academic class year. In a newsletter like this one, 500 words go quickly!  There is however, one issue that students bring to us from parents, regardless of the academic progress of their daughter or son—career security. So let’s look at that issue today.

As the query comes to the career counselor from the student, it is usually about choosing a field that is stable, insulated to a large degree from the vagaries of the economy. It is a field where the companies are well known and prestigious; rarely lay off “good staff,” and where there is a strong commitment to the further education and upward mobility of those they hire.  It is a field that pays well, the employers respect work-life balance, and they have offices wherever in the world one wants to live, but never transfer staff except to where they ask to go.  Finally, the field should be filled with organizations with a set of values that we all can agree are in the best interest of today and tomorrow.

I have exaggerated a bit here, but only a bit.  I certainly understand the desire most parents have to ensure that their daughter or son will choose wisely and well and will be in a field and with organizations that can provide the stable environment many parents covet.  I am not sure this is a truly attainable goal for most students today—or that they share the goal with parents at this stage of their development.

The global market, into which our students launch, is dynamic, even volatile. Change is the constant and it happens with breathtaking speed. Organizations and industries shift to where opportunities exist or they create opportunities by defining new markets themselves. Innovation, entrepreneurship, impact, and the development or acquisition of new products, services, or domains of knowledge are the currency of stability for many organizations. Develop, acquire, define a brand, reflect upon its success or failure, and then adjust, adapt, and learn to deliver something new or something old in a different way. Some believe this is the mantra of the entrepreneur, but I have the same conversation with employers, regardless of size, longevity, domain, or even product.

I submit that stability for the individual student is much the same as described above for employers in the economy of today and tomorrow.  Stability will come from within, not from external partnerships with employers.  Those students who will thrive will be those who learn to learn in interdisciplinary ways, and across several very different domains of knowledge. They will have used the full range of academic, co-curricular, and experiential opportunities to articulate a brand, learn to compete, to adapt, and to reflect and assess outcomes (from successes and failures). They will learn to be effective in environments that are new, challenging, and filled with others quite different from themselves.  They will build a personal board of directors who will know and advise them. They will master the art of networking, initially using Duke alumni and parents. They will stay with an organization only as long as both are benefitting, not a moment longer.  So, they will learn to manage their professional development and their career as if it they were a corporation – as they likely will be!

For those of us, including many parents, who grew up hoping to find an employer who would hire, train, nurture, and develop us, this is a scary looking world. For most of the students with whom I speak it is a world that reflects their experiences and the way they anticipate they will grow most effectively.

It is not only the possession of a degree from a great university, like Duke University, that defines the future—though it is indeed a significant advantage. It is how the student went about getting the degree that most often tells the story of how effectively they will manage their professional life and how well they will create stability for themselves.


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Family Weekend - 2015 Update

Community, connection, and Duke spirit — that's what Family Weekend at Duke is all about. Every year we welcome over a thousand Duke families to campus to share in the Duke student experience, which includes everything from brunch in the Marketplace to a cappella concerts by award-winning student ensembles, as well as the popular Student for a Day talks and thrilling Duke athletic events. We pack as much of the Duke experience into one weekend as we can, so students and their families can share in the excitement together.

We had great success this past Family Weekend, and we, like you, are looking forward to next year! We have one addition to the schedule that will add even more excitement to the mix: a home Duke football game on Saturday. Imagine spending the day with your family, tailgating with delicious Southern barbecue in beautiful Durham Fall weather, and cheering on our (currently 8-1!) football team in a stadium full of Duke blue. We can't wait to share this with you.

This addition to the schedule means we will need the ACC schedule for Duke football games before we can select dates for Family Weekend. Typically, the Duke football schedule is announced in mid-March, and our timeline for announcing Family Weekend dates will be similar. We apologize for any inconvenience, and hope that the community and opportunities connected will more than make up for it. We will publicize the dates once selected via the Parent and Family website: http://studentaffairs.duke.edu/parents, Parents Newsletter, and Duke parent Facebook page.

We look forward to seeing you next year at Family Weekend 2015! Go Duke!


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Family Weekend 2014 Recap

It was wonderful to have so many families on campus for Family Weekend 2014! In all we had more than 2500 registered guests that made the trip to Durham to share in their student’s college experience. This year’s programming included a wide variety of events, presentations, and performances from throughout the Duke community.

Among the highlights:

  • An address from President Richard Brodhead
  • The Family Weekend kickoff address by the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Sue Wasiolek 
  • Special discussions from two of Duke’s acclaimed faculty members, Dr. Mohamed Noor and Dr. Denise Comer
  • Emmitt and Pat Smith hosted an incredible event with the Library, hosted by their daughter Jasmin (who really stole the show) 
  • Wonderful concerts from Duke a capella, jazz, chorale groups and more
  • Student performances including Duke Improv, Hoof n’ Horn

Duke Athletics also enjoyed a successful Family Weekend with wins by several Olympic sports teams. 

We hope all of our visitors enjoyed their time at Duke. It was wonderful meeting so many of you, and please know that we really do view you as partners in your student’s success.

Many have begun to ask about the dates for Family Weekend 2015, and when they will be confirmed for next year. Stay tuned to www.studentaffairs.duke.edu/parents for the latest updates and details.

Best regards,
Parent & Family Programs

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IFC Recruitment at Duke

Dear Parents,

These initial months at Duke are a very exciting and likely stressful time as son/daughter are adjusting to college life. Although it may have taken a few months, we hope that they have comfortably settled into life here at Duke and are truly experiencing the many opportunities that are afforded to them on campus.

The spring semester brings many new opportunities for involvement throughout campus, one being the possibility of joining one of our Greek-letter-organizations. With the support of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, there are 42 chapters represented across 4 councils. Greek organizations are composed of the most comprehensive and connected network of men and women on Duke’s campus. Greek students are proud to comprise approximately one third of all undergraduates. Joining this network has many benefits including group housing, peer and alumni advisement, and the ability to sponsor social and philanthropic programming.


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Letter from DSG President Lavanya Sunder

Dear Parents,

It’s a great time to be a student on campus right now. Fall Break, along with the temporary end of midterms, has given the student body a needed surge of energy, and the improved attitude on campus is definitely palpable. Durham is cooling down, and we’re finally beginning to feel autumn in the air. Our Homecoming game against Virginia is tomorrow (it will be over by the time you read this, GO DUKE!), and midterm elections are right around the corner. With all of this positive momentum, I truly feel that Duke Student Government (DSG) is well positioned to enact many great changes on campus.

One of DSG’s biggest priorities this year has been to make sure that students are able to register to vote for the midterm elections, and get to the polls on Election Day. Primarily, we want to make sure that North Carolina’s new registration and identification requirements do not deter students from registering to vote. Moreover, I am happy to say that we have successfully carried out a large voter registration drive, and are in the midst of planning a voter mobilization campaign.

We’ve also been working on mobilizing students in other ways. One way is through the new Zagster bike-share program. This program was conceived of last year, and after months of deliberation and fine-tuning, the program was finally launched in September. It allows students, faculty, and staff, to rent bikes from any Zagster rack location on campus, ride, and drop them off at any rack location, similar to bike-share programs many municipalities are implementing. We’re hoping that these bikes become a second form of transport between campuses, and provide students with increased mobility in Duke and Durham.

Finally, we’re working on a number of smaller projects throughout the year. Our most recent initiative is the creation of the Duke Student Government Research Unit (DSGRU). DSGRU is a group of students tasked with statistically analyzing large research questions, such as “How do students spend their food points?” or “In what ways do students interact with the Duke Curriculum?” We’ve also continued our work on expanding curricular offers in LGBT studies, strengthening the Duke House model, managing the impact of construction on campus, and much more.

If you’re interested in following any one of these initiatives, or the many more we’re pursuing this year, I encourage you to check out our new website. We have blogs for our Senators, Vice-Presidents, and Cabinet members, and general news updates as well.

It has been a great start for DSG and Duke students in general, and I am looking forward to many accomplishment to come.



Lavanya Sunder

DSG President 


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Parent & Families: Message from Dean of Undergraduate Education

Dear Parents,

It’s the start of a new academic year, a time when many parents ask me what they can do to participate in the educational experience of their Duke student.

I suggest you ask them why they are at Duke.

That sounds like an odd question to ask, perhaps because the answer may seem obvious. Students are here to get an education, right? They’re here to pursue their current interests and cultivate new ones, to prepare for a career and to continue on their path to success. These are all good answers, but I recently asked the incoming Class of 2018 to take a deeper dive as they consider how they would answer the question “Why are you here?”

We do everything we can at Duke to blur the lines between classroom learning and the significance of that learning for the world at large. Duke students will specialize in some discipline, but our liberal arts and sciences curriculum and the abundance of co-curricular experiences we support are designed so that a Duke education not only sharpens our students’ minds and builds their skills, but also provides a broad platform of experience and knowledge of what it means to be human. When we encourage our students to explore beyond what they think they’re interested in and to reach out to people who are different from themselves, to expand their talents in ways that may not seem immediately practical, we do this to help them find their own answer to the question ''Why are you here?'' in the broadest sense of what that question asks.

We expect a Duke education to propel our students to a productive and successful career. But more fundamentally, we also hope that a student’s time at Duke will help ensure that they lead a satisfying and rewarding life. Life is best when professional success and personal satisfaction go hand in hand, but we all know that this desirable juxtaposition can’t be taken for granted. By asking our students “Why are you at Duke?” we can begin to cultivate a habit that will help our students realize that combination long after they leave our Gothic walls.

I’m not suggesting you need to engage your daughter or son on the meaning of life the next time they call home. But I do encourage you to ask them to reflect on what it is they want to get out of their Duke education beyond the obvious. It’s all too easy for students to get caught up in studying for tests, writing papers, and the flurry of activities that occupy college life. The more we – you and I! – ask our students to think about the deeper value of their time at Duke, the more we ask in one way or the other “Why are you here?” and the more they will benefit from the opportunities they find at Duke in a way that will help them ask and answer that question for the rest of their lives.

With best wishes for the fall,

Steve Nowicki

Dean and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

Bass Fellow and Professor of Biology


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