Trustees Hold Quarterly Meeting

Trustees voted to rename the 50-bell carillon in honor of Sam Hammond

His beloved carillon will be named after Sam Hammond.
His beloved carillon will be named after Sam Hammond.

The Duke University Board of Trustees convened its quarterly meeting Nov. 30-Dec. 1 and discussed with university officials a wide range of academic, operational and financial issues in both plenary sessions, through standing committees and in the new strategic task forces that were created as part of board’s restructuring earlier this year.

The task forces include Activating the Global Network, Advancing Duke Science & Technology, Next Generation Living & Learning Experience and The Future of Central Campus.

In other business, the board:

-- Voted to change the name of the Carr Building on the university’s East Campus to the Classroom Building until such time as a new name is selected. 

--Dedicated the 50-bell carillon in Duke Chapel in honor of J. Samuel Hammond, who has played the bells at 5 p.m. each workday for more than five decades and is retiring at the end of December. Hammond, a 1968 graduate of Duke, was named university carillonneur emeritus.

In their resolution naming the carillon after Hammond, the trustees noted that “Sam has brought intelligence, excellence, humility, charm, and grace to his work every day, and has brought joy and meaning to the Duke community through his deep knowledge of his craft and his superb musicianship, creating the unmistakable sound of the pealing of the bells across West Campus.”

The chapel’s 50-bell carillon is an exclusively mechanical instrument. To play it, Hammond must strike a series of wooden keys, arranged similarly to a piano’s keys, with his fists and press pedals with his feet. The key or pedal pulls a cable that causes a hammer to strike the inside of the corresponding bell. The largest bell weighs more than five tons and the smallest about 10 pounds.

It is estimated that Hammond has played a 15-minute interlude at the end of the workday more than 15,000 times during his Duke career.  

In addition to his work at the chapel, which includes performing at the chapel’s Sunday morning worship services, Hammond has worked for 41 years as a music librarian in Duke’s Rare Book Room and other departments, and earned two master’s degrees.

He also has given concert-length recitals at Duke, as well as at churches, universities and bell towers across the country, and serves as the longtime volunteer accompanist for the Duke University String School, playing the piano for rehearsals and concerts by the youth orchestras.