Keeping An Open Door

Passages in a University Presidency

Keeping An Open Door

Book Pages: 216 Illustrations: 16 b&w photographs, 3 tables Published: October 1996

General Interest > Biography, Letters, Memoirs, Duke University, Pedagogy and Higher Education

During the 1980s, many of America’s most respected colleges and universities suffered financial crises, athletic scandals, a troubling upsurge of racial conflict, and the divisiveness of political correctness “wars.” Yet Duke University not only avoided these dangers but changed dramatically from a very good regional university to one of the nation’s top research institutions. Its undergraduate campus was hailed as a “hot college”; its Blue Devils basketball team was pronounced a model for student athletes; its graduate and professional schools gained new national prominence; and its scholars were quoted frequently in the popular press on both sides of the political correctness debates.
In Keeping an Open Door, Duke chancellor (1982-1985) and president (1985-1993) Keith Brodie and coauthor Leslie Banner recount what it was like to lead Duke during an era of change for research universities across the country: how Brodie reached some of his most controversial decisions, including the “Black Faculty Initiative”; his strategy for precluding abuse in Division I athletics at Duke; how his training as a psychiatrist shaped his leadership style and influenced how he dealt with trustees, deans, faculty, and students; and the avenues of power still open to today’s university presidents. The history and feeling of life on the Duke campus during the Brodie era are vividly evoked in photographs and key speeches introduced by the former president’s personal recollections.
Keeping an Open Door provides an insider’s view of issues critical to modern research universities and will interest anyone concerned with the history and future of higher education.


Keeping An Open Door is a remarkable book reflecting a rich experience in university leadership. It shows clearly how leadership matters in achieving tolerant inclusive pluralism while maintaining high standards of excellence in research and education. The insights, candor, and integrity of this book provide much guidance for anyone seriously interested in the well being of our great research universities.” — David A. Hamburg, President, Carnegie Corporation

“Keith Brodie has used occasions such as greeting incoming classes or speaking to visiting headmasters to address issues of genuine importance, not only at Duke, not only in higher education, but also in the larger society.” — Paul Hardin, former Chancellor of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

“This is a finely written, easily accessible, and reassuring book about the dilemmas of higher education. Keith Brodie honorably served both the institution which prospered under his leadership and the office of the presidency.” — William M. Chace, President of Emory University

“This is a marvelous and evocative memoir which I recommend highly to all who wish to understand more about the university presidency and the evolving challenges facing American higher education.” — Harold T. Shapiro, President, Princeton University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Keith Brodie is President Emeritus and James B. Duke Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University.

Leslie Banner served as Special Assistant for University Affairs during the Brodie presidency.

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Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1862-0
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