An aerial view of fireworks bursting over West Campus with Duke Chapel and Duke Hospital in the background

Blue Devils Return for Fall 2023

Duke community welcomes students back to campus

Campus is bustling as another year begins. The annual return of students is accompanied this year by new faces in Duke’s leadership, faculty and staff across campus. From move-in and orientation for first-years to graduate and professional student welcomes and festivities marking the return of students to campus, the past week was a celebration of all things Duke.

“We want to bring the excitement”

- Julia Happel, Junior

A rush of sound—music, clapping and cheering—hit first-year students as they stepped out of vehicles and into their Duke experience. Enthusiastic crowds of student volunteers and university leaders welcomed them to campus and grabbed boxes, bags, mini-fridges and more from trunks to haul into the residence halls on East Campus.

Orientation leaders smiling and hanging over a railing, ready to get started moving student into the dorm
Gary Bennet, Frank Tramble, President Price and a crowd of orientation leaders grab items from the open trunk of an SUV
Mary Pat McMahon and Duke staff clap and cheer as families pull up in their cars to get unloaded

Video scenes from move-in. A wall painted with, “Welcome Class of ‘27.” Someone gets out of a car and flashes the Durham bull horns sign. John Blackshear dances with orientation leaders. Orientation leaders drag bags into dorms. President price carries a set of drawers.

The students are just high energy. There's a lot of spirit, a lot of singing, a lot of dancing, a little bit of moving in. A few tears. It's just a classic college moving experience. And I couldn't be more excited to be here.

Gary Bennett, Dean of Trinity College of Arts and Sciences

“Just give it up for your parents and families one more time...”

- Jon Scheyer, Duke Men’s Basketball Head Coach

Later that day, students and families completed their first course in Duke spirit in Cameron Indoor Stadium. After words of welcome and wisdom from Duke leaders, there were hugs and a few tears outside as families departed. The first-years had officially arrived at Duke.

Students in blue Duke jerseys fill the stands in Cameron Indoor Stadium and practice some important cheers

Men's basketball coach Jon Scheyer standing on the court addressing students and families

Two people hug and take a photo outside near Wallace Wade Stadium as families say farewell

“A great time to connect with one another and explore together”

- Kaleb Jeffries, Class of 2027

This year's orientation week featured 21 experiential orientation programs that provided novel opportunities for first-year students to get acquainted with their surroundings through a variety of educational and recreational activities that foster a sense of belonging around shared interests.

“To finally be a part of the class of 2027, it’s just surreal”

An exhilarating week of activities with their orientation groups ends as the Class of 2027 comes together one more time to create this moment—the last time they’ll all be in the same spot until commencement.

The official class photo aerial shot of students lined up spelling out '2027' on East Campus

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A saxophone player playing on a stage in a large ballroom filled with gradaute and professional students

“Moving forward, you are all, now, an important part of Duke history”

- Keanu Valibia, President, Graduate and Professional Student Government

Incoming graduate and professional students connected with each other at a reception with Duke administrators and faculty leaders.

Graduate and professional students talking in a caricle with president price in a crowded room

Students posing with the Blue Devil in front of a light-up Duke sign

Provost Alec Gallimore talks with three students.

Welcome2West Celebration

The students are back and ready to start off with a bang. Fireworks completed a night of fun and games on Abele Quad.

Video of fireworks over west campus with Duke Chapel in the background with clips of students’ reactions.

Students lit up by a blue light get snocones from a food truck

A group plays lawn chess on the quad

A student celebrates knocking another student off a perch with a foam block at a carnival game

“Yes, this is the start of a new era for each of you; but it’s also the start of a new era for Duke”

- President Vincent E. Price

Convocation is one of the university’s most treasured academic traditions. It introduces the newest members of the Duke Community and starts the new academic year—one that will be marked, in January, by the beginning of Duke’s centennial celebration.

President Price in academic robes talking with students outside of Duke Chapel
Christoph Gutentag speaking at the podium in Duke CHapel
Students fill the rows in Duke Chapel singing the alma mater

Class of 2027 By the Numbers


Total First-Year Enrollment


From North Carolina


Students of Color


Countries Represented

First Day of Class

Time to go to work. Campus was abuzz as classes got under way and incoming students got their first full serving of the Duke academic experience In classrooms, labs and performance spaces all over campus, the machinery of learning sparked back into life for the year ahead.

Five students standing on a west campus path with Duke architecture in the background holding a sign that says, “First day of class Fall 2023”

Video clips from the first day of classes. A timelapse of Bryan Center Plaza. Students walking through arches on campus. A group of students talking and laughing. A busy shot of people waiting for the bus.

A busy campus with a number of students waiting at the bus stop.
Two friends holding stuff embrace on the quad
A student at the piano with the instructor looking on

“It’s fun to come in and see the old students and meet the new students and get a sense for what the class is going to be like, all the different levels they have.”

Professor Susan Greenberg on the first day of Class Piano
Students sitting at desks in an English class

Students sitting around a table with laptops chatting

A class sitting around a table having a discussion

“I get to delve into those questions I want to learn the answers to.”

Senior Sanci Smith on the first day of Apartheid South Africa and Struggles for Democracy