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UNC is recognizing retiring Duke University President Nan Keohane by naming a new visiting professorship in her honor.
The idea for the professorship came from UNC Chancellor James Moeser, who has worked with Keohane in forging enhanced collaboration between both campuses. Moeser surprised Keohane by announcing plans for the post Monday night at a dinner on the Chapel Hill campus celebrating the Duke president’s leadership and ties with UNC. About 200 Carolina and Duke supporters attended.
Half of the $3 million needed to create the Nannerl O. Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professorship at UNC and Duke University was pledged as a challenge by Carolina graduate Julian Robertson ’55 and his wife, Josie, of New York.
After Moeser made the announcement at the dinner, Richard M. Krasno, executive director of the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, confirmed that the trustees of the Kenan Trust had approved a grant to provide the remaining $1.5 million to make the professorship possible.
The Robertsons also funded the Robertson Scholars Program, which began in 2001 and allows scholarship recipients to study at both universities.
The UNC-Duke collaborations have grown from academic partnerships spanning more than a half century, beginning in the 1930s with coordinated book-buying for the two libraries to maximize the holdings of both and minimize duplication.
Keohane’s efforts have helped advance the Carolina-Duke relationship, which Moeser called one of the most vibrant and dynamic academic relationships in the world. “She has been a wonderful colleague in every regard – a tower of strength and wisdom, with bedrock integrity, principled and decisive,” he said.
Keohane said, “It is a powerful personal privilege to be honored in this way. I am truly touched and deeply grateful.”
Moeser said the distinguished visiting professorship will bring world-class visiting scholars to be in residence at both universities to interact with students. The visiting professor will spend about six months of a yearlong appointment on each campus. A highlight of the professorship will be a weeklong public seminar led by the visiting professor. Provosts at Carolina and Duke will work together to select the visiting scholar every year.
Keohane will retire after 11 years at Duke. New collaborations between Carolina and Duke during her tenure, in addition to the Robertson Scholars program, include the Rotary Center for International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution and the newly announced Institute for Renaissance Computing, which will be based at UNC with support from Duke and N.C. State University.
The gifts from the Robertsons and Kenan Trust establishing the Nannerl O. Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professorship fund at UNC and Duke University count toward the Carolina First campaign goal of $1.8 billion. Carolina First is a multi-year fund-raising campaign to support Carolina’s vision of becoming the nation’s leading public university.