President Brodie living in his office
Centennial Spotlights

Keith Brodie

Following in the footsteps of legendary statesman and academic leader Terry Sanford as Duke president is a daunting thought. But Dr. H. Keith H. Brodie exceeded the challenge as Duke’s seventh president, from 1985-1993.

“Keith Brodie’s term as president of Duke … saw the beginning of Duke’s rise to national recognition and reputation,” then-President Richard Brodhead said in a message sent to the Duke community when Brodie died on Dec. 2, 2016, at age 77.

“The initiatives Keith championed became signature qualities of Duke and remain part of our university’s values today, including an emphasis on interdisciplinary scholarship, investments in medical research, and a commitment to a diverse and inclusive faculty and student body.”

Brodie, a professor emeritus of psychiatry, saw applications to Duke’s undergraduate and graduate schools increase greatly during his tenure, with the percentage of undergraduate students receiving financial aid doubling, from 20 to 40 percent.

This period was also marked by new programs to recruit and retain minority faculty, plus new academic initiatives such as the School of the Environment and the launch of the President’s Advisory Council on Resources.

President Brodie sits and talks with students on the quad
President Brodie speaks with a crowd of students outside

His focus on interdisciplinary studies led to the Levine Science Research Center, which brought together faculty from varied disciplines.

Brodie’s scholarship included path-breaking psychiatric work on the neurobiology of eating and other disorders.

The Sanford Institute of Public Policy (now a school); the campuswide computer network, DukeNet; and increasing the number of African Americans in academia, with a Black Faculty Initiative and a Program for Preparing Minorities for Academic Careers were other hallmarks of Brodie’s leadership at Duke.

“We assume Duke has always been great,” Brodhead said while delivering the eulogy for Brodie, “but it had to be made. The role that Keith played is making Duke as we know it something we can celebrate today.”