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Dan Blue to Speak at Duke’s 2013 Founders' Day Ceremony

Blue, a former chair of trustees, and longtime dean Gerald Wilson will receive the University Medal. 

State Sen. Daniel T. Blue Jr., a former chair of the Duke Board of Trustees, will deliver the main address at the annual Duke Founders' Day ceremony Friday, Oct. 4, in Duke Chapel.

Blue, a graduate of Duke Law School, also will receive the University Medal, Duke's highest honor for distinguished service. 

A second University Medal will go to Gerald L. Wilson, senior associate dean of Trinity College who has been a long-time leader in undergraduate education at Duke. Wilson earned two graduate degrees from Duke: a master's of divinity in 1961 and a master's of arts in 1968.

The ceremony is at 5:30 p.m. and will include recognition of faculty, staff and students who have won other university awards. The public is invited to attend.

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

Founders' Day will be held in conjunction with the official end of the university's nine-month celebration of the integration of the Duke undergraduate student body 50 years ago, an event that decisively changed the university campus.

Blue has been a pioneer himself, both in state political circles and at Duke. Born in 1949 in Robeson County, he received a bachelor's degree from North Carolina Central University in 1970 and a law degree from Duke in 1973. Blue was first elected to the North Carolina State House of Representatives in 1980, and later became the first African-American speaker of the House. He was elected to the state Senate in 2008.

At Duke, Blue was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1995 and became the first African-American trustee chair in 2009. 

Wilson has served Duke as dean, administrator and faculty member for more than five decades. After all that time, the adjunct history professor has scarcely slowed down, still teaching classes in American history, serving as Trinity College senior associate dean and as the academic dean for political science, history and public policy majors, and advising pre-law students on their careers.

Wilson came to Duke in 1958 to study at the Divinity School and he stayed on in a variety of administrative duties. He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and joined the Duke history faculty in the 1980s.

The Distinguished Alumni Award will go to E. Blake Byrne '57, the founding chair of the Nasher Museum of Art's national board of advisers. Byrne is the founder and chairman of the board of the Skylark Foundation, a philanthropic family foundation, and the founder and president of Blake Byrne Fine Arts.

An influential champion of the Nasher Museum, Byrne has recruited board members, secured support to make the museum a reality, and supported the museum through donations of works from his own collection. In addition to his Nasher involvement, he has served on the Trinity College Board of Visitors, which he also chaired; has been a class president and class agent for reunions of his class; and established a professorship in Arts and Sciences and a scholarship for LGBT students from the Carolinas.  

Mohamed A.F. Noor, Earl D. McLean Professor of Biology, will receive the Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award. In 2012, Noor received the David and Janet Vaughan Brooks Trinity College Distinguished Teaching Award.

Other faculty awards cited at Founders' Day include:

-- Jun Yang, David and Janet Vaughan Brooks Trinity College Distinguished Teaching Award;

-- Christopher Roy, Robert B. Cox Trinity College Distinguished Teaching Award;

-- Ralph Litzinger, Howard Johnson Distinguished Teaching Award;

-- Purnima Shah, Richard K. Lublin Distinguished Award For Teaching Excellence;

-- Lindsey Smith, Award for Excellence in Teaching Writing;

-- Ronen Plesser, Teaching and Technology Award;

-- The ATLAS group of Ayana Arce, Doug Benjamin, Andrea Bocci, William Ebenstein, Jack Fowler, Alfred Goshaw, Ashutosh Kotwal, Mark Kruse, Seog Oh and Chiho Wang, Dean's Leadership Award;

-- Roger Barr, Klein Family Distinguished Teaching Award at the Pratt School of Engineering;

-- Lisa Huettel, Lois and John L. Imhoff Distinguished Teaching Award;

-- Stefano Curtarolo, Stansell Family Distinguished Research Award;

-- Charles Gersbach, Capers and Marion McDonald Award for Excellence in Teaching and Research;

-- LaTondra Murray, Capers and Marion McDonald Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Advising;

-- Rebecca Dupre, Dean's Award for Leadership in Program and Operational Excellence;

-- Cameron R. "Dale" Bass, Laura Edwards, Frank Sloan and Robyn Wiegman, Dean's Award for Excellence in Mentoring.

Faculty and staff also will be honored for university service awards, including:

-- Paul Jones, Jonathan Giles, Susan Bonifield, Julia Woodson and Cynthia Chavious, who received Presidential Awards; Meritorious Service Awards went to 16 employees;

-- Paula McClain and Kerrie Haynie, who received Diversity Awards for their leadership of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences (REGSS);

-- Teamwork Awards went to the 52-member Maestro Care Ambulatory Group that was responsible for Duke Health System's conversion to an electronic health care record system.

Others to be honored during the Founders' Day service include Angier B. Duke Scholars, Benjamin N. Duke Scholars, Karsh International Scholars, James B. Duke Graduate Fellows, Reginaldo Howard Scholars, University Scholars, Robertson Scholars, Faculty Scholars, the MasterCard Foundation Scholars, The Duke Endowment Fellows and many other undergraduate and graduate scholars.