Duke University | Baldwin Scholars Program

Elizabeth Dole


Elizabeth Dole

Elizabeth Dole (as Mary Elizabeth Hanford) graduated with distinction in political science from the Woman's College of Duke University in 1958. She has held numerous national public service posts, including Secretary of Transportation under President Reagan and Secretary of Labor under the first President Bush.

In January 1999, Dole sought the Republican presidential nomination. In her campaign for president, Dole became the first viable woman candidate from a major political party and attracted thousands of first-time voters to the democratic process.

She served as a U.S. senator from North Carolina from 2003-2009.

As an undergraduate student, Dole lived in Alspaugh and participated in many extracurricular activities, including Phi Beta Kappa, Chapel Choir, Chanticleer yearbook, the First-Year Advisory Counselor (FAC) program and Delta Delta Delta sorority.

She was elected president of the Women's Student Government Association her senior year; her work with this organization earned her the Duke University 1958 Leader of the Year award. Her leadership agenda included establishing an honor code, discussing campus drinking rules and developing a leadership training program.

"Women's Student Government Association itself was perhaps the pinnacle of campus organizations this year because of Miss Hanford's leadership," The Chronicle wrote in a 1958 article. "While demanding the hard work and efficiency from her subordinates that are necessary for such accomplishments, Miss Hanford maintained a sense of responsibility to those who elected her, a quality which forceful leaders often forget."

At her Duke commencement, Dole received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan award, a national prize given to those who exemplify the ideal of service to others. Years later, she volunteered her first year as president of the American Red Cross, receiving no salary. She did that to recognize the organization's more than one million volunteers.

In a 2000 commencement address at Duke, Dole said, "You take from this ceremony much more than a diploma. You take with you the responsibility for writing the next chapter of the American story. What we become as a nation will depend in large measure on what you become -- and what you believe."

"I hope you never forget those who have gone before, nor those who will come after . Be brave. Take risks. Above all, be yourselves, for therein lies the greatest gift you can return to those who have given so much that you might join the Duke family."

Dole also earned a master's degree in education and government and a law degree, both from Harvard University. She was a member of the Duke University Board of Trustees from 1974-85 and received the University's third Distinguished Alumni Award in 1985.