Duke’s Centennial Celebration Kickoff

The Centennial celebration has begun.

Echoing the date of Duke University’s founding in 1924, Duke launched more than a year of events on January 9 – 1.9.24.

The celebration of this centennial brings about a historic opportunity to recognize Duke’s extraordinary past, highlight the impact of the present and look toward the potential of Duke’s future.

One event. 100 years in the making
President Price on stage with confetti in the air above him

“Our Centennial is a gift to us: our chance to pause and contemplate our past, to appreciate the present, and to plan for our future.”

– President Vincent E. Price

A Celebration Distinctly Duke

The stage came alive with more than 100 student performers from multicultural campus groups including On Tap, Nakisai, Dhamaka, Street Med, Duke Chinese Dance and Devils en Pointe. The focus shifted between each group’s individual performances before they all returned to the stage in a joyous union of singing, dancing and clapping.

“We’re happy to do this so that we can show our culture.”

– Naomi Patel, ’24

Cheerleaders warm up the crowd
A student does the worm to pump on the floor at Cameron Indoor Stadium up the crowd at the beginning of the show
On Tap starts the show tap dancing in front of the Duke100 logo on a large screen
Nakisai African Dance Ensemble performs on stage
Street Med hip-hop dance group dances on stage
Devils En Point performs
Member of the dance groups hold up one finger as the Duke 100 logo backlights the photo

One Hundred Years of History

One of Duke’s most famous alumni, actor Ken Jeong, joked that when he got the invitation, he thought it was the “Ken-tennial” celebration, but used his time on stage to connect the audience to Duke’s story.

“Duke is us, the people; those of us here now; everyone who will help take Duke into the future; and those who laid the foundation of who we are today.”

– Ken Jeong ’90

The Impact of Duke, Today

The story of Duke is one of its people. Duke alumna and trustee Lisa Borders shared five stories of students, faculty, staff and alumni who have done amazing things that are only possible at Duke.

“If you’re at Duke, … you will make an impact. You just
have to decide when, where and how.”

– Lisa Borders ’79, Duke University Trustee

Duke Student Government President Isaiah Hamilton and Graduate and Professional Student Government President Keanu Valibia described Duke as a place to grow, explore and make an impact on the world around them.

Scholars Felipe De Brigard and Anna Gassman-Pines were celebrated as examples of Duke faculty doing important, cutting-edge work that could only happen in an interdisciplinary environment like Duke.

Shree Bose, M.D./Ph.D ’23, represented Duke alumni and is now a resident at the University of Chicago and was included in Forbes “30 under 30”.

Duke celebrated staff like Barbara Stokes, who came to Duke as an undergraduate student and held a work-study job as a cook. She never left Duke and is now director of residential dining.

Duke pediatric cardiac surgeon Joseph Turek performed the first combination heart transplant-thymus procedure surgery using a method pioneered decades earlier at Duke by physician-scientist Mary Louise Markert.

Recipient Easton Sinnamon and his family joined the celebration, a thriving example of the immediate and local difference Duke’s people are making.

Lisa Borders waves from the stage next to the Sinnamon family

Alexandria Edwards dances with a chorus composed of members of Duke’s many student choral groups and led by Duke Assistant Professor of the Practice of Theater Studies Chauntee’ Schuler Irving.

The Duke of Tomorrow

The Centennial celebration then looked to the future as Duke President Vincent E. Price and Hall of Fame basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski spoke of where Duke is going.

President Price delivers his speech from the stage

“Today, more than ever before, Duke University is in position to lead in the 21st century. The question is ‘how will we lead? How will we seize the opportunity?‘ … That’s the responsibility we share.”

– President Vincent E. Price

Coach K on stage delivering his speech

“No one knew that we were gonna be as good as we are. The thing is, they have no clue about how much better we’re gonna be.”

– Coach K

Let’s Go Duke

Ken Jeong joined Coach K to bring the crowd to its feet chanting “Let’s Go Duke” and as has become tradition for celebrations in Cameron, dancing to “Every Time We Touch”. 

Every is on their feet in the stands as confetti rains down on the floor of Cameron Indoor Stadium
Ken Jeong does a cheer routine with the Duke cheerleaders among blue and white baloons
Performers from the Centennial Kickoff Celebration cheer and play with balloons
Student performers sing along with “Everytime we touch” as confetti falls
Confetti falls in front of the Duke100 logo on the big screen

Experience the Event

Watch the live stream. The full video of the Centennial Celebration Kickoff event is available below.

A Winter Chill

As the Centennial Celebration Kickoff program came to a close, the party moved next door to the Winter Chill, an event celebrating the return to campus following winter break with some special centennial flair.

An overview photo of the Winter Chill inside Wilson Recreation Center with a Duke 100 illuminated ball suspended in the middle
Six students toss fake snow in the air inside a giant snowglobe
A student sites on a Duke 100 ice sculpture throne

A Campus Transformation

The preparation for the Centennial started years earlier, but started coming into view during the quiet days of December 2023.

Duke Stories: Past, Present and Future

1.9.24 was only the kickoff to the Centennial. Be sure to check back on this site for more exciting events and compelling content as well as keep an eye on Duke Today for Centennial content from across the University.

Sherilynn Black headshot

Sherilynn Black

Sherilynn Black believes a scholar’s personal and professional growth requires a village and not a single mentor. And she’s in a position to make this a reality.

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