Gratitude for Our Sanford Alumni and Friends

 May 1, 2024

On May 10, I am looking forward to celebrating our newest Sanford alumni – more than 300 undergraduate, master’s and PhD graduates across six academic programs.

Graduation is always a special moment for Sanford, and this year is extra special for me. I want to take a moment to express my gratitude for your support and care of me and of our school. I truly appreciate your good wishes and messages of appreciation in response to my recent announcement that I will be stepping down as Sanford School dean at the end of June after six wonderful years as your dean. I am looking forward to my next steps, while staying connected to our entire community.

Our Sanford alumni inspire me! My time as dean visiting alumni and friends throughout the world and welcoming them back to Duke has changed me. Alumni: You have taught me about service through your work and actions. You have taught me about generosity with your gifts of volunteering and support. You have taught me about impact in how you are using your Sanford degrees in so many ways to make our world better.

Together as a school and with support from our alumni and friends, we have achieved remarkable milestones and laid a foundation for Sanford’s future success. We are on a continued trajectory of excellence, with top faculty, amazing students and our world network of engaged alumni. Over the past six years, we have transformed the school through new programs and innovations to bolster research, teaching and engagement while also navigating through the pandemic. Our alumni engagement has increased significantly in the past six years. Fundraising has more than doubled, with the number of endowed graduate financial aid endowments increasing from 17 to 30 and endowed professorships increasing from 14 to 22. These are some of the many accomplishments we have achieved as a school in the past few years.

I credit the significant support from our alumni and friends for our progress, and I sincerely thank our wonderful Board of Visitors for providing wise counsel and advocacy of our Strategic Priorities during my tenure.

In the words of Terry Sanford, you all “stand for something” every day. It has been an honor to lead such a talented community for the past six years and to connect with you.

Manoj Mohanan, senior associate dean for faculty and research, has been appointed interim Dean. We have already been able to share many aspects of the leadership of the school, and will continue to collaborate closely to prepare for the upcoming leadership transition on July 1. I am confident that, with continued support and dedication from our community, Sanford’s strengths will continue to build.

To all our alumni, my deepest appreciation and warmest wishes now and in the future. Thank you for your ongoing support of Sanford. I encourage you to always keep in touch with Sanford as you are important to us. I look forward to celebrating our new alumni on May 10.


Judith Kelley
Dean and Terry Sanford Professor of Public Policy and Political Science
Duke Sanford School of Public Policy


Dean's blog, Alumni