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Founder's Day Convocation Sept. 30 in Duke Chapel

Founder's Day Convocation Sept. 30 in Duke Chapel

Former chair of the Board of Trustees Robert K. Steel will deliver the address; Jean Fox O'Barr and Harold "Spike" Yoh among honorees

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DURHAM, N.C. - Duke University will honor outstanding students, faculty, employees and alumni at its annual Founders' Day Convocation in Duke Chapel at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30.

Honorees at the service, which is open to the public, include Jean Fox O'Barr, professor emeritus of education; Harold L. "Spike" Yoh Jr., trustee emeritus and former chair of the Board of Trustees; English professor Thomas J. Ferraro and Duke Divinity School professor Ellen Davis.

The convocation address will be delivered by another honoree, trustee emeritus and former chair of the Board of Trustees Robert King Steel, who is currently New York City's deputy mayor for economic development. Steel and O'Barr will both receive the University Medal for Distinguished Meritorious Service, one of the university's highest awards. Yoh will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award.

President Richard H. Brodhead will preside over the Founders' Day service, which celebrates the founding of the university. The convocation will be held one day before the university's Board of Trustees opens its fall meeting.

Steel is the former president and CEO of Wachovia Corporation. He joined the board of directors of Wells Fargo & Co. upon the firm's merger with Wachovia. Prior to that, he served as undersecretary of the treasury for domestic finance, and vice chairman of Goldman Sachs & Company.

Steel has served as a senior fellow at the Center for Business and Government at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, as chairman of the Duke Management Company (DUMAC), and as a member of the Advisory Committee on International Affairs for the Provost. He earned a bachelor of arts in history and political science from Duke in 1973 and an MBA from the University of Chicago in 1984.

Elected to Duke's Board of Trustees in 1996, Steel served on a number of trustee committees, including serving as board chair from 2005-2009, and chaired the presidential search committee that selected Brodhead as university president.

O'Barr is the founding director of the Women's Studies Department at Duke, a role she held for 18 years while also teaching both the introductory course and graduate classes. She currently is Distinguished University Service Professor Emerita of the Practice of Education and a senior seminar instructor for the Baldwin Scholars program, a women's leadership program.

Trained in political science at Northwestern University, she began teaching at Duke in 1969. Her initial areas of scholarship were African politics and international affairs. In 1972, she was the first director of Duke's Continuing Education program. In addition, she was editor of the prestigious journal "SIGNS: Journal of Women in Culture and Society."

Working with returning female students inspired her work to begin teaching courses on women in politics. O'Barr retired from teaching full-time two years ago. Last year, the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture, of which O'Barr is a co-founder, held a symposium in her honor.

Yoh, with his wife Mary Milus Yoh, donated $5.5 million to the university which helped with the construction of The Yoh Football Center. Yoh is now retired as the CEO of Day & Zimmermann Inc., a billion-dollar sales diversified professional service firm that is one of the largest privately owned firms and a family business.

He began his professional career in 1960, joining a firm begun by his father that later merged with Day & Zimmermann. He held a variety of management positions with the firm, becoming CEO in 1976 and chairman of the board in 1980.

He graduated from Duke's School of Engineering in 1958 and earned a master's degree in business administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1962. At the School of Engineering, Yoh served as chairman of the dean's council. His wife graduated from Duke's Woman's College in 1959. The Yohs and their five children and a daughter-in-law have collectively earned nine degrees from Duke.

He was first elected to the university's Board of Trustees in 1991, and served as board chair from 2000-2003.

The Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award will go to Ferraro, an English professor and member of the admission and financial aid committee and the Duke Graduate School advisory committee. Presented each year by the Duke Alumni Association, the award is administered by a panel of undergraduate students who select the recipient based on letters of nomination submitted by members of the student body.

The University Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award, given by the Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church, will be presented to Ellen Davis, the Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology.

Other faculty awards are:

-- James Bonk, professor of chemistry: Dean's Distinguished Service Award;

-- David Brady, associate professor of sociology and director of Duke's Center for European Studies: Dean's Award for Excellence in Mentoring;

-- Krishnendu Chakrabarty, professor of electrical and computer engineering: Capers and Marion McDonald Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Advising;

-- Elizabeth A. Clark, professor of history and the John Carlisle Kilgo Professor of Religion: Dean's Award for Excellence in Mentoring;

-- Laura F. Edwards, professor of history: Howard Johnson Distinguished Teaching Award;

-- Margaret R. Greer, professor of Spanish and Latin American studies and theater studies: Richard K. Lublin Distinguished Award for Teaching Excellence;

-- Scott Huettel, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience and director of the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies: Dean's Award for Excellence in Mentoring;

-- David Katz, a professor of biomedical engineering: Capers and Marion McDonald Award for Excellence in Teaching and Research.

-- Kam Leong, James B. Duke professor of biomedical engineering: Stansell Family Distinguished Research Award;

-- Robert Malkin, professor of the practice, biomedical engineering and founder of Engineering World Health: Lois and John L. Imhoff Distinguished Teaching Award;

-- Joseph Nadeau, associate professor of the practice of civil and environmental engineering: Klein Family Distinguished Teaching Award at the Pratt School of Engineering;

-- Mark Anthony Neal, professor of African and African American studies: Robert B. Cox Trinity College Distinguished Teaching Award;

-- Mohamed Noor, professor and chair of the biology department: Dean's Award for Excellence in Mentoring; and

-- Carlo Tomasi, professor and chair of computer science: David and Janet Brooks Trinity College Distinguished Teaching Award;

Those to be honored during the Founders' Day service include Angier B. Duke Scholars, Benjamin N. Duke Scholars, James B. Duke Graduate Fellows, Reginaldo Howard Scholars, University Scholars, Robertson Scholars, Dean's Graduate Fellowships, Baldwin Scholars, and many other undergraduate and graduate scholars.

Founders' Day celebrates the founding of the university and provides an opportunity each year for the university to reflect on its history and heritage and to recognize major contributions by students, faculty, administrators, employees and alumni.

The occasion will mark the 109th anniversary of the first event honoring the Duke family at this institution. In 1901, when the school was Trinity College, the school held a Benefactors' Day to pay tribute to university namesake Washington Duke.

More Information

Contact: Keith Lawrence
Phone: (919) 681-8059

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More Information

Contact: Keith Lawrence
Phone: (919) 681-8059