The Congregation at Duke University Chapel

Stepping Down from Duke Chapel Tower

For the ears, you can listen to an audio recording [high fidelity audio playable under all personal computer operating systems via VLC media player, Microsoft Windows Media Player with the codecs for FLAC et al, OS X QuickTime with the XiphQT plugin, etc., on many Android-based mobile devices, and on iOS-based mobile devices via apps such as FLAC Player or Golden Ear]

Stepping Down from Duke Chapel Tower

presentation at Adult Forum by
The Rev. Dr. Sam Miglarese
Director of Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership and assistant vice president for the Office of Durham Affairs
March 10, 2019

Some background material about how the university has engaged with adjoining neighborhoods was made available for class attendees, and is included below.

The Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership

Office of Durham Affairs


"Civic engagement involves true partnerships, often between the institution and the community in which it resides that serves mutual yet independent interests, thereby honoring the integrity of all parties."

(Center for Liberal Education and Engagement)

The long history of civic involvement between Duke and Durham was for decades diffuse, unfocused, and not very visible; since university-community collaborations can take many shapes, there was much debate on what kind of strategic partnership would work best here. With the arrival of President Keohane in 1994, Duke began a process to develop a series of partnerships with 12 neighborhoods near Duke's campus and the eight public schools that serve them. Meant to be mutually beneficial for both parties, the focus on these neighborhoods was deliberate, and this initiative became the centerpiece for Duke's civic engagement and was included in the last two strategic plans approved by Duke's Board of Trustees.

From 1996-1999, Duke University reorganized its Office of Community Affairs and formalized its primary commitment to civic engagement in the form of the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership under the leadership of John Burness, Senior VP for Government Relations and Public Affairs. In 2008, the core work of the partnership was included in the formation of the new Duke Office of Durham and Regional Affairs with Dr. Phail Wynn, Jr. serving as its first Vice President. With the retirement of Dr. Wynn in July 2018, Dr. Stelfanie Williams was appointed VP for Durham Affairs in July of 2018 by Vincent Price, President of Duke University.

"We heal human injuries and illnesses; we work to heal division within our own community; and we use our skills and knowledge to aid healing and reconciliation elsewhere. We serve our fellow students and colleagues, our local community, and the world beyond to improve life and well-being for others."

--Vincent Price

The key strategy for Duke's neighborhood partnershipa with Durham is that the community itself helps set priorities. The partnership benefits our schools by making Duke's institutional and extramural resources - consultation and technical expertise, faculty expertise, student involvement, financial support, and leverage of in-kind services and equipment - more readily available. By addressing quality-of-life issues - from affordable housing to access to affordable and high-quality health care - we have helped stabilize neighborhoods; by addressing concerns about crime and security and transportation, we have helped make Durham better for all of its citizens.

The partnership benefits Duke by building trust in the face of a history of perceived institutional arrogance and isolation, especially among our African-American neighbors in low-wealth communities. Further, President Price stated that "Duke wouldn't be Duke without Durham, and through partnerships with community organizations, local schools and businesses, we are working together to build an even brighter future for the city we are proud to call home." Through service learning courses, action learning, student projects, volunteer efforts in the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership, and DukeEngage Durham (formed in 2007), Duke Students engage the world and learn from practice while embracing the values of citizenship and the highest ideals of service to the community in which they live and learn.

Top Five Priorities

The Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership is now part of the Duke Office of Durham Affairs. The central priorities are:

  • Continue to strengthen Duke's partnership with the City of Durham to attract and retain downtown businesses, increase employment opportunities, and establish downtown Durham as a unique retail and social destination.
  • Further develop Duke's partnership with Self-Help and the City of Durham to expand affordable housing opportunities in Duke's partner neighborhoods and spur commercial redevelopment along West Chapel Hill Street, The Shoppes at Lakewood, and in East Durham.
  • Continue to encourage and support Duke student engagement in Durham.
  • Continue to develop new education initiatives with Durham Public Schools. The main focus is improving students' literacy skills as early as pre-kindergarten.
  • Focus on strengthening Durham's nonprofit sector by providing professional development opportunities for nonprofit leaders, supporting innovative project collaborations and organizational mergers, and mentoring organizations that already exist but need further guidance to stabilize or expand.

The Partnerships

Today, the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership serves 12 neighborhoods close to Duke's campus: Burch Avenue, Crest Street, Lakewood Park, Lyon Park, Morehead Hill, Old West Durham, Trinity Heights, Trinity Park, Tuscaloosa-Lakewood, Walltown, Watts Hospital-Hillandale, and West End. The work of the office has been extended to include downtown redevelopment, East Durham, Southside, and Braggtown.

The partnership also serves nine schools: E.K. Powe Elementary School, Lakewood Elementary School, George Watts Montessori Magnet School, Forest View Elementary School, Morehead Montessori Magnet School, Lakewood Montessori Middle School, Rogers-Herr Year-Round Magnet Middle School, Durham School of the Arts, and Y.E. Smith Elementary Museum School.


Due to the success of the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership and the expansion of the Duke Office of Durham Affairs to include the Duke Community Service Center, we face increased demands for partnership cultivation, funding and education programming grouped around these five priority areas. How to manage growing expectations is a major challenge.

Sam Miglarese: Asst. Vice President and Director of the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership

October 5, 2018

Another perspective on some of the history of civil rights in Durham which was noted (circa 23:30 through 25:15) during this presentation is described at:
including interviews conducted in 2011 by Tim Tyson with the former mayor (1963-1971) of Durham, North Carolina, R. Wensell Grabarek.