“This new university is to be a teaching university in the fullest sense, in and out of its walls. It proposes to itinerate, to carry the university to the people if the people do not come to the university. It may be a joyous hope to hear that no age, sex, or condition will debar anyone from being aided by this institution in the pursuit of knowledge at their own firesides or in their own villages.” President John F. Crowell, 1891

“The college, through its Scientific Faculty, must ceaselessly study humanity, not books alone. It must be indefatigable in the collection of facts pertaining to the supreme concerns of men. It must impart light, out of the present facts and past history, to every problem that troubles the thoughts or touches the hearts of men . . . Every institution, or part of an institution of society, stands or falls according as it proves or fails to prove its indispensableness in doing the work of society, whatever that work.” Crowell, 1888

“The college of today in America must be a place where a courageous independence of thought is fostered side by side with an ardent love of truth and righteousness.” Crowell, 1888

“The college of today may often have to defy the public on new questions, but it must bravely yet sympathetically instruct the public.” Crowell, 1888

“ . . . I have selected Duke University as one of the principal objects of this trust because I recognize that education, when conducted along sane and practical, as opposed to dogmatic and theoretical lines, is, next to religion, the greatest civilizing influence. I request that this institution secure for its officers, trustees and faculty men of such outstanding character, ability and vision as will insure its attaining and maintaining a place of real leadership in the educational world, and that great care and discrimination be exercised in admitting as students only those whose previous record shows a character, determination and application evincing a wholesome and real ambition for life. And I advise that the courses at this institution be arranged, first, with special reference to the training of preachers, teachers, lawyers, and physicians, because these are most in the public eye, and by precept and example can do most to uplift mankind, and, second, to instruction in chemistry, economics, and history, especially the lives of the great of earth, because I believe that such subjects will most help to develop our resources, increase our wisdom and promote human happiness.” James B. Duke, 1924,  Article 7 of the Duke Endowment Indenture

“This University in all its departments will be concerned about excellence rather than size; it will aim at quality rather than numbers—quality of those who teach and quality of those who learn. It will be developed with a view to serving conditions as they actually exist. It will be for the use of all the people of the State and Section without regard to creed, class or party, and for those elsewhere who may seek to avail themselves of the opportunities it has to offer.” Minutes of the Board of Trustees, December 29, 1924 [This was the meeting that the name was changed to Duke University.]

“Our nation is in the throes of great trouble and we who care must work, must work much harder than we have in the past to solve the problems that face us. Duke University has its own responsibilities in this effort.” Samuel Dubois Cook, professor of political science and first African American faculty member, in an address to Vigil protesters, April 10, 1968

“We want to provide the kind of university experiences that recognize, nourish, and broaden these talents of leadership and creativity. We do not expect all our graduates to go out into our society and find solutions to society’s problems or opportunities, but we do expect to have the kind of university that is capable of turning out such graduates. That kind of a university will make a difference in the world, because its graduates will make a difference.” President Terry Sanford, 1970 inaugural address

“The assurance has been generated that where there are needs, Duke people will be represented on the teams answering those needs and that Duke people will be speaking out when they hear remarks of prejudice and injustice. To maintain this reputation of trust in our individual lives we must accept responsibility for our behavior in the face of evil.” Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans, 1983 commencement address

“…excellence is not a destination. It is a spirit; it is a determination; it is a set of personal and institutional values.” Terry Sanford address to the faculty (“Outrageous Ambitions”), October 25, 1984

“Clearly, a sensitivity to other perspectives must begin at home. This is why we have chosen to be explicit about our hope to nurture in you a tolerance for differences. We are asking directly for your help in softening the prejudices you bring to Duke. We are asking you to consciously examine the unconscious baggage that gets in the way of enjoying and learning from others. In the end I hope that the Duke community will kindle in you a belief that the differences among us are far less important than our common humanity.” President H. Keith H. Brodie, 1992 convocation address

“A Duke education should build character, as well as intellect. Character depends on subsuming narrow selfishness in a more enlightened, generous, inclusive vision of the world.” Nannerl O. Keohane, president of Duke University (1993-2004) in a Convocation Address, August 26, 1993

“As we make this [diversity] our way of life, the real and powerful contributions of diversity to the quality of education at our institutions will become more obvious and better understood. The benefits will travel forward through our graduates in their homes and communities, in their jobs and leadership, and in their children and our society.” Nannerl O. Keohane, Panel on Value of Diversity in Higher Education, President’s Commission on Race, College Park, Maryland, November 19, 1997