Centennial Reception Celebrates Duke’s Workforce

Staff, faculty and retirees gather to mark Duke’s first century

Duke Vice President for Human Resources and Chief Human Resources Officer Antwan Lofton speaks to the attendees at last week's reception. Photo by Les Todd.

As part of the 100th anniversary of the transformation of Trinity College into Duke University, the reception was an opportunity to highlight the many ways Duke staff and faculty have shaped the institution’s story.

In his opening remarks, Antwan Lofton , Vice President of Duke Human Resources and Chief Human Resources Officer, encouraged guests to take time to “recognize this moment in our history and the ways each of you have contributed to that history.”

“Within this room, between those that have retired and our current employees, there are multiple generations of people who have worked here,” Lofton said later, in between conversations with attendees. “It’s been very rewarding to hear their stories.”

Moving around the busy room, compelling stories weren’t hard to find.

At one table near the center of the room, members of the Venue and Production Management team enjoyed time together, taking advantage of the brief lull after the heavy lifts of commencement and the American Dance Festival.

Staff members enjoy a laugh during last week's reception. Photo by Les Todd.

“This is a nice opportunity to take a break and see people we don’t often get to see,” said Duke University Box Office Customer Service Representative Ilana Adlee, who is in her second year with Duke.

Among the group was Duke University Box Office Assistant Manager Madi Kartcheske, who has been at Duke for eight months, and Madi’s father, Duke Arts Production Manager Paul Kartcheske, who has 16 years of experience at Duke.

Seated at a table nearby, retirees Queen McRae, who spent 30 years as a nursing educator at Duke, and her husband Robert McRae, who managed labs for the Duke University School of Medicine for 43 years, were relishing the chance to be among members of the Duke community.

“I enjoyed my time here,” said Robert McRae, a board member of the Duke University Retirees Association. “It’s always nice to come back and see how things are going.”

Staff members from the John Hope Franklin Center spell out Duke with balloons during last week's reception. Photo by Les Todd.

For Jerry Kirchner, a Clinical Trials Project Leader with the Duke Clinical Research Institute, attending the reception is part of a rolling celebration of his 30th year at Duke.

To mark three decades since he moved from Iowa to start work at Duke, Kirchner, who works remotely from his Durham home, said he’s been intentional about collecting meaningful Duke experiences this spring such as climbing to the top of Duke University Chapel, attending baseball, softball and men’s lacrosse games, and attending Thursday’s reception.

“I’m trying to really embrace Duke culture,” Kirchner said. “There’s so much you can do here.”

Lining one wall of Penn Pavilion was a traveling exhibit from the Duke Office for Translation & Commercialization highlighting the many innovations that have come from the bright minds of Duke community members during the last century.

The Duke Human Vaccine Institute's Darren Morrow checks out a display highlighting 100 years of innovation at Duke. Photo by Les Todd.

As the reception wound down, Tracy Huber, the Building Support Services Coordinator for the Levine Science and Research Center, took a few minutes to study the exhibit’s panels.

“There’s probably some stuff on here that happened in our building,” said Huber, who has been at Duke since 2007. “We’ve had a lot of breakthroughs.”

With roughly a decade of experience working a Duke in different capacities, Academic Resource Center Senior Learning Consultant Bayley Garbutt said he appreciates the wide scope of work that gets done at Duke. But events like Thursday’s reception, which bring the different sides of Duke’s workforce together, illustrate how many people contribute to Duke’s continuing story.

“I know Duke is big, but being here gives you a view of how many people are invested in what Duke does,” Garbutt said.

Check out a video of scenes and interviews from last week's Centennial Reception.

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