Dear President Brodhead:
I am excited that you will be in Atlanta on February 15 with Senator and President Carter and I plan to attend the event at the Carter Center. It would be extremely helpful (if your schedule permits) if you took a few minutes to visit privately with a group of African American alumni who are alarmed at the recent anti-affirmative action study conducted by Duke faculty. I freely admit that I benefitted from affirmative action and received a superior education at Duke. I jokingly tell people that I may have gotten in on affirmative action, but there was only one way out. I do not consider my Public Policy and Economics majors to be any less demanding or worthwhile than the courses offered on Science Drive. And I certainly don’t think you want the public to believe that there are two tiers of study offered at Duke – the rigorous sciences and the less worthwhile humanities. In Atlanta, there are judges, physicians, elected officials, scientists, nurses among a host of black Duke alums who have worked hard to build this city and this nation. We want to be reassured that Duke is not pulling away from its commitment to affirmative action. With all the problems that plague urban communities, it is not surprising that African American graduates choose majors that will prepare them to address the lingering economic, social and political disparities that plague our nation. A physician who majors in social science as a undergraduate may actually be better prepared to practice medicine than one who focuses on science alone. My schoolmates and I regret that Duke’s name will appear among the opponents of affirmative action at the Supreme Court – a posture at odds with Duke’s history and our national interests.
Janice L. Mathis