In the midst of enormous uncertainty brought about by the global pandemic, one thing is crystal clear — Duke is open and committed to undergraduate teaching and learning as our core mission and to providing educational excellence for all students, wherever they are. We are steadfast in our resolve to educating the whole person — mind, body and spirit — and we must do so in ways that keep our entire community healthy and safe.
To this end, we made the difficult decision to reduce on-campus housing to under 50% capacity this fall, develop robust, online versions for most undergraduate courses, and enact comprehensive, multi-layer safety measures. Spaces throughout campus — residence halls, classrooms, libraries, and research labs — were evaluated and reconfigured to reduce density and allow for distancing. Unprecedented ongoing COVID-19 testing and symptom monitoring protocols were implemented. Faculty, with help from campus experts in teaching and learning innovation, have been working since March to refine, retool and reset their teaching. Research has continued, with modifications to protect the safety of faculty and research staff, while maintaining progress to important path-breaking results, outcomes and discoveries.
At Trinity College, we are continuing to provide our students with a world-class liberal arts education—the value of which is more important now than it has ever been. Systemic issues like racism and disparities in health and income have long existed, but have been highlighted in new ways by COVID. These challenges are best addressed when individuals from diverse backgrounds and across disciplines come together, which lies at the heart of a liberal arts approach to education. Our efforts to reimagine teaching and learning allow Duke students to continue participating in critical discussions and ground-breaking research projects that address these issues from anywhere in the world.
With the rapidly evolving circumstances and significant changes we have made, I cannot overstate how critical Annual Fund support has been to make these shifts possible. The generosity of donors like you allows our schools to be nimble and respond to the immediate needs of our students, faculty and staff. When you donate to the Annual Fund, you also support one of Duke’s highest priorities: financial aid. Given the economic strains caused by the pandemic, to students and their families, we anticipate the need for financial aid to substantially increase in the coming year.
Now more than ever, we need alumni and parents to partner with us as we support the most indispensable members of the Duke community—our students. I invite you to join me in donating to the Duke Annual Fund. We know we can be successful and resilient in these times of extreme uncertainty, but only when we all come together as one Duke community.
Thank you for all you do.
Sally A. Kornbluth, Ph.D
Provost, Duke University
P.S. Students need a variety of support right now. If you would like to help in other ways, please visit: https://giving.duke.edu/support-students-during-covid-19.