DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke University President Richard Broadhead announced today that researchers from the University's geography department had just discovered that the Duke campus was physically located in the state of North Carolina. University officials, at first, were at a loss to explain why this hadn't been observed sooner.
"As part of the Ivy League everyone had assumed that Duke was in the Northeast," said Duke geographer Maurice D'Sorentos.
President Broadhead readily admitted that this revelation had come as quite a shock to the Duke community, including himself. "Do you really think I would have left Yale if I had known Duke was in North Carolina?" asked Broadhead with an obviously rhetorical intonation.
The news hit the student body hard. As the word spread around campus numerous drinking binges and bonfires were abandoned as students stopped to consider what this would mean to them and their inheritances.
Sophomore Nancye Botogliosi was startled at the revelation.
"I'm from New Jersey, of course. The whole reason I came to Duke was so I could stay close to home. I'm thinking about transferring to Rutgers. They are The State University of New Jersey, or at least that's what they say. I'm going to have someone check it out this time," Botogliosi.
Dean of Students Berting Dinglehump said that he was going to institute a series of seminars, lectures and colloquia to help Duke adjust to the changed “context in which Duke now finds itself.” As part of the campus-wide program, said Dinglehump, "We hope to bring some 'locals' on to the campus so that our students and faculty can see what they are like." Dinglehump said the current visiting scholars program could be readily adapted to this "meet and greet" program. Translation services, said Dinglehump, would be provided by faculty on loan from the English Department at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
Seminar topics currently planned include, “Brunswick Stew: What Is It? How Do You Eat It?,” “Southern Linguistics: Why Speaking Loudly To Southerners Won't Make Them Talk Any Faster,” “NASCAR: Why The Shiniest Car Doesn't Always Finish First” and “Southern Sensibilities: Why Southerners Don't Like Loud, Rude And Obnoxious People.”
The seminars will not just be amusing looks at an alien culture but would give practical tips for everyday living, according to Professor of the Anthropology of Primitive Peoples Lance Grabber. "For example, in North Carolina, we have found, it is not useful to honk at drivers who stop at stop signs and stop lights," said Dr. Grabber. "Stopping is a local custom here. As annoying as it is, we should try to tolerate it."
Duke is now considering broadening its diversity policy to include a Southerner, said Director of Admissions West Eloté. "Others don't agree, but I think that it could be an enriching experience for our student body to get to know someone from the South. It will make them appreciate their own culture and heritage. But if we do admit a Southerner, we will be very deliberate in our selection, and we will certainly maintain our campus-wide ban on cars with a bluebook value less than our annual tuition and, of course, all pickup trucks."
Campus changes necessitated by the discovery could be quite expensive, according to Duke's Director of Buildings and Grounds, Dennis Dunn. Hundreds of campus signs reading "Duke: THE University of New Jersey at Durham" will have to be removed or replaced. Many of the signs campus entrances will need to be changed. According to Dunn, the "big arrow at the main campus entrance pointing north, labeled 'New York City,' certainly will stay."
Duke Director of Public Relations Albert Ohlmann vehemently denied rumors that Duke had only revealed this now in an attempt to steal some reflected glory from the University of North Carolina's recent national championship in men's basketball. According to Ohlmann, the Duke community has not even been paying much attention to basketball lately as it is trying to emphasize "more authentic North Carolina traditions, such as those that natives call hollerin' and banjo pickin'."
In other news: A study released today by the University of Wisconsin-Stout's Department of Sports Psychology shows that the "cheesehead" hats, worn most notably by Green Bay Packers and University of Wisconsin-Madison fans, are "not primarily, as previously thought, an ensign of team loyalty but rather an affordable form of head insulation."
Gary D. Gaddy, who has a brother who intentionally earned a degree from Duke University and a wife, who is actually from North Carolina, who got a law degree there, apparently inadvertently, attended Boston University himself, which is, of course, in Brookline.
A version of this column first appeared in the Chapel Hill Herald, Thursday March 15, 2007. Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy