Brodhead Service Award

Richard Brodhead and wife Cynthia
Richard Brodhead, ninth president of Duke
University, with his wife Cynthia

The Brodhead Service Award, named in honor of President Richard H. Brodhead, is given annually to a Trinity College of Arts & Sciences undergraduate, alumnus/a, or staff member who has demonstrated exemplary service to or in support of the school. A nominee could, for example, be an engaged volunteer or board member; a student who launched a program, led an initiative, or held a leadership position in a service-oriented organization; or a staff member who served the university in a professional or advisory capacity for many years.

The award was established in November 2016 by the Trinity College Board of Visitors to honor President Brodhead’s 13 years of service to and leadership of Duke University.

Over his two terms, Brodhead worked to enrich undergraduate education and to unify Duke’s academic opportunities with the residential experience. Brodhead led the expansion of Duke’s financial aid endowment to ensure that admitted students can afford to attend regardless of their financial circumstances. Under his leadership, Duke engaged in a renewal of iconic campus buildings—the West Union, Rubenstein Library, Duke Chapel, and Baldwin and Page Auditoriums—that has preserved historic exteriors while transforming interiors into welcoming spaces that foster true community. Duke also established the Duke Global Health Institute, an interdisciplinary center that works to translate research findings to address health care inequities and improve the health of people around the world, and launched the signature program DukeEngage, which gives Duke undergraduates the opportunity to apply their classroom knowledge in service to society, either in the U.S. or around the world.

Nomination Process

Nominations will be solicited throughout the academic year and members of the Trinity College Board of Visitors, in consultation with the Dean of Trinity College, will select one honoree from this pool. The award will be presented in the spring of each academic year.


Nominees should meet the following attributes:

  • Nominee is a current undergraduate in good standing enrolled in Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
    OR an alumnus/a of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
    OR a faculty/staff member employed by Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Nominee has made contribution(s) of service that make Duke University and/or Trinity College a better place through exemplary vision, dedication, and leadership—characteristics and values set forth by President Richard H. Brodhead during his tenure at Duke
  • Nominee is actively engaged with Duke or Trinity College as an alumnus/a, student, or staff member

Award Winners

2023: Sterly Wilder '83

Sterly Wilder

The first female head of the Duke Alumni office, Sterly Wilder has spent her life immersed in the Duke community, positively influencing the experience of thousands of students and alumni over the years. During her tenure, she developed new programs that connected alumni to students, such as playing a central role in building Duke’s global network and making lifelong learning available to the entire community.

She also developed programs that linked academic and residential life and strengthened outreach to international and underrepresented groups. She felt strongly that as Duke’s demographics changed, the alumni office needed to be visible for all alumni, and worked together with Janet Hill in strengthening outreach to Black alumni, in particular. Sterly has been an integral part of the Duke alumni experience—seeing the importance of one community and ensuring alumni play a prominent role in every part of the university’s mission while always broadening the web of people who feel connected to Duke.

2022: Valerie Sheares Ashby

Dean Valerie Ashby

Valerie Sheares Ashby assumed the deanship of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences in July 2015 and focused on three questions as guiding principles for her work: Why are we here? How do we behave? And what are we going to do? She repeatedly affirmed Trinity’s mission of delivering a world-class liberal arts education, to every Duke student, in a leading research environment. She adhered to a mantra of honesty and transparency and our commitment to the entirety of scholarship (teaching, research and service), and emphasized three overarching themes: Excellence, Diversity and Inclusion, and Leadership and Mentoring.

Ashby modeled CARE (Courage, Authenticity, Responsibility and Empathy) in her leadership and in changing the culture of the college to one where students, faculty and staff would feel seen, valued, and supported; are committed to delivering on the mission; work together to achieve consistent excellence; and where diversity equals excellence.

During her tenure, Ashby hired 200 faculty; launched a Chairs Discussion Group to support departmental leaders; developed the Dean’s Leadership and Diversity Awards to recognize faculty accomplishments in these areas; established the Trinity Distinguished Lecture to celebrate and elevate scholarship; recognized the value of the staff through an annual appreciation event and awards; served as the Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholarship Director; co-chaired the Vice President and Director of Athletics search; and participated in a presidential search committee. Her tenure as dean concluded in June 2022 as she departed Duke to become president of University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

2021: Al Crumbliss


Al Crumbliss, University Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, served Duke University and Trinity College with humility and grace. He set an example of excellence in leadership, research, and teaching. During his 50+ years with the university, he has received the University Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award, the David and Janet Vaughan Brooks Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award, the Dean’s Distinguished Service Award, and was named the Bishop-MacDermott Family Professor of Chemistry.

Although he taught classes up to as large as 200 students, Crumbliss kept a table at Faculty Commons each week and gave six students at a time an opportunity to sign up and join him for lunch so that he could get to know them better and share in their interests. He was also an excellent mentor to graduate students and was committed to helping teaching assistants become effective teachers in labs and recitation.

2020: Sue Wasiolek '76, MHA'78, LLM'93


Sue Wasiolek '76, MHA'78, LLM'93 -- fondly known to so many of us as “Dean Sue” -- is not only a fixture of the Duke experience, but also a three-time Duke alum. She’s spent 40 years of service to Duke as the Assistant to the Dean for Student Life, the Dean for Student Life, and the Dean of Students, and is currently Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Senior Advisor. She has served for over thirty-five years as an academic advisor to freshmen and sophomores and has taught courses in education, law and cultural anthropology.

In 2013, Dean Sue accepted an invitation to become a Faculty-in-Residence, and her time with students is not a job but a way of life. She has loved living with Duke’s smart, achievement-oriented, fun, energetic students. She’s known for her incredible dedication to students and their families, love of Blue Devil sports, and even for sitting atop a bench in the Quad to prevent students from burning it after a Duke win.

2019: Gerald Wilson

Dean Gerald Wilson

A pre-law advisor, history professor and academic dean in Trinity College, Gerald Wilson served Duke students for over half of a century. During this time, he has been an exemplary educator and mentor, with many of his students describing him as “insightful,” “inspirational,” and “utterly brilliant.”

He was named “Best Professor” by the Duke Chronicle in 2014 and his course “American Dreams/American Realities” continues to be one of the most popular classes in Trinity College. He is also widely recognized as the most preeminent pre-law advisor in the country. Wilson lives out the exemplary vision, dedication, and leadership set forth by President Brodhead during his tenure at Duke.

2018: Elizabeth York Schiff '81 JD'85 P'14 and James Schiff '81 P'14

Elizabeth York Schiff and James Schiff

Elizabeth York Schiff ’81 JD’85 P’14 and James Schiff ’81 P’14 were the 2018 recipients of the Brodhead Service Award. Proud Duke alumni and parents, the Schiffs are exemplary volunteers and supporters of Duke. Their philanthropy has transformed the university in truly incredible ways, from funding academic and thesis advising for a variety of programs to supporting undergraduate faculty-mentored research and a professorship in the English department. The Schiffs have also demonstrated extraordinary leadership at Duke, serving as members of the Trinity Board of Visitors from 2007-2013 with James Schiff serving as chairman from 2011-2013.

2017: Mary Jacobs, Inaugural Brodhead Service Award Recipient

Mary Jacobs

At the 2017 Spring Trinity Board of Visitors meeting, Dean Valerie Ashby introduced Mary Jacobs as the first Richard H. Brodhead Service Award recipient.

Jacobs is the administrative manager and assistant to the dean for Trinity College of Arts & Sciences. She coordinates all meetings — eight to 15 each day, often with up to 40 individuals — provides the dean with vital background and historical information, and handles meeting follow-up with amazing grace and ease.

At the time of this award, Jacobs had served 10 deans over her 29 years at Duke.