Nannerl Overholser Keohane, named for Mozart's musically talented sister and affectionately called “Nan,” recently completed 11 years as Duke's eighth (and first female) president. During her tenure, she led the $2.36 billion Campaign for Duke, started the Robertson Scholars program with UNC, built the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership and championed the Women's Initiative.
The Women's Initiative, which Keohane has called a “labor of love,” was a yearlong research project to more fully understand the needs of Duke women and develop strategies to address the challenges they face. The research, which involved students, faculty, employees and alumni, has already led to substantive changes - including the creation of the Baldwin Scholars program.
“One of the greatest feminist writers, Simone de Beauvoir, said in her powerful treatise “The Second Sex,” 'One is not born, one becomes a woman.' Education is about becoming, about guided transformation. It stands to reason, therefore, that we should give deliberate thought to how female students at Duke become women, and how we can help them become the strongest, most fulfilled women they can possibly be,” said Keohane, who spent 12 years as president of Wellesley College before coming to Duke.
“A university experience is only one portion of a long life for many women; but it is an especially powerful and formative experience, and we can hope to make a difference for women of the future by giving more careful attention to that experience.”
Keohane is a political theorist who enjoys reading about philosophy, history, current affairs, politics, culture and science. She will spend the 2004-2005 school year on sabbatical at Stanford University but plans to remain an active president emerita.