Magical moments and meaningful interactions with more than 2,300 students over 28 years. That is one way to describe Professor Emeritus Tony Brown’s momentous career at the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy.
The magic and meaning in his career has also included working with his wife, Teddie, for almost 10 years at Sanford. They have been married for 56 years.
Tony retired in December 2021, and his legacy continues with two major gifts recently made in honor of Teddie and him. Friends of Sanford have established a new professorship and also an innovation fund in both of their names.
“Stunned. Affirmed. Grateful. Stunned in that it was a total surprise. Affirmed in that it enhanced the meaning of my 28 years at Sanford. Grateful in my feelings of deep appreciation for the privilege of being a Sanford professor, to the Dean for supporting me, and to the donors for the extraordinary gifts,” Brown said.
One gift is from an anonymous donor, who created the Tony and Teddie Brown Associate or Assistant Professorship Fund, a $2 million endowment to support a new faculty position in public policy.
“As a professor of the practice, I have always been focused on my teaching, which was my purpose in coming to Duke. In addition to feeling stunned, affirmed, and grateful, recognition of Teddie and me together for our work at Duke has touched my heart,” Tony said.
Amanda Dorsey Kimberg (’08) and Dan Kimberg (’07) commented on Teddie’s role, “Teddie was the heartbeat of Tony’s work – the consistent force which gave life to big ideas and then steadied and sustained those ideas as they turned into actions. We met in Tony’s class, five years later Teddie and Tony spoke at our wedding, and still today they are a sustaining force of love for our family.”
In addition, alumni Lori Cashman (’94) and Gillis Cashman (’97) made a lead gift of $500,000 towards the Tony & Teddie Brown Dean’s Innovation Fund, an expendable fund.
“Lori has been a wonderful friend and supporter of my work for many years. I will forever be grateful to Lori and Gillis for making this gift because it will contribute to Sanford’s progress. Sanford’s realization of its ambitious goals, requires innovation. Innovation requires enterprising behavior and agility. And enterprising behavior and agility require resources that can be readily applied to opportunities. Therefore, the new innovation fund is extraordinarily important to Sanford's future,” Brown said.
Tony arrived at Duke in 1993 after 25 years in the corporate sector, serving as chairman and CEO of an insurance company and two years as a vice president at a major public university. Teddie joined the Sanford staff in 1994.
Following his corporate career, Tony believes that stars aligned to create his Duke opportunity. One was a chance encounter when he met Sanford faculty member Bruce Payne, who opened the door for Tony at Sanford. Another was when Bruce Kuniholm, Sanford’s dean, invited Tony to create and teach a course in the spring 1993 as a visiting lecturer.
“My first class 28 years ago was unforgettable. It was magical and the tipping point,” Tony said.
His Sanford career inspired many and received accolades. Tony received a 2019 Duke Presidential Award, the highest honor given by Duke to staff and faculty members.
Over the 28 years, Tony’s leadership insights continue to be relevant to his former students. Case in point is a recent email Brown received from alumnus Sam McDermott (’21), who wrote, “I also wanted to pass along a story that highlights how your teaching legacy lives on well past graduating Duke. This summer, I was working as a trip leader for an outdoor travel company called Backroads. On one of the trips I led in Oregon, I had a guest who was a Duke alum by the name of Ned Villers ('98). As we got talking about Duke, I asked him if he had any favorite classes at Duke, and he replied, ‘The best class I ever took was Enterprising Leadership with Tony Brown. I still use the skills I gained from that class 20+ years later.’ He was thrilled to hear that I was also able to experience the magic of your class.”
Tony often comments that he has retired from teaching courses at Duke, but not from his vocation of contributing to the values-based leadership development of his former students and Durham community members.
“Almost everyone is thinking about a next step in life, and clear values are important to effective decisions. My active engagement with my alumni is important to their personal development (and also mine).” he said.
Tony is grateful for his Sanford experiences and believes that the future is bright for the school.
“Sanford is acting on Terry Sanford's challenge to have outrageous aspirations. Given its history, its mission, its strengths, and its momentum, Sanford has an enormous opportunity to contribute to the world through its teaching, knowledge creation and convening activities. What a privilege to be part of this journey!”