“Thank you…to our esteemed pioneers and trailblazers for paving the way and inspiring our university…”

When I came to Duke in May 1986 to attend the Summer Transitional Program (STP), I never imagined Duke would be my professional home for the next two decades of my life… It’s been 23 years, but I’ve stopped counting. Duke has always felt like home. I have held a profound sense of belonging in Durham and at Duke that began with family. Both my parents are Durham natives and proud graduates of Hillside High School, also Nat White, Jr. and Mary Mitchell Harris’ alma mater. At Duke I was enriched by caring faculty such as Gerald Wilson; coaches, including Bob Sanders, Tommy Bowden, Marvin “Midnight” Brown; and staff like Nancy Austin, Joby Branion, Dean Caroline Lattimore, Dean Sue, Caroline Nisbet, Linda Capers, Maureen Cullins, and a bright cloud of faithful witnesses who comprise the house, grounds, and food service staff. Several of my relatives were on staff, including my late, great uncle Thelma Downey, who retired after 30 years as a head chef, and my dear aunt/second mother Mary Ann (Pat) Ruffin, a retired Duke Hospital RN who passed in 2009. The litany continues.

Thank you Durham and Duke families who make Duke so beautiful, and to our esteemed pioneers and trailblazers for paving the way and inspiring our university to become greater. Thank you for making the challenging times seem but a light affliction compared to the glory revealed through God’s grace in your courageous ambitions and amazing accomplishments. It is a joy to celebrate with you during this momentous year. I pray we honor you as we contemplate and take action during the next half century.

Keith Daniel, T ’90, M. Div. ’05, Candidate for the Doctor of Ministry, Duke Divinity, 2016