Duke University announced the retirement of vice president Tallman Trask III today, with officials heaping praise upon Mr. Trask The Third, who leaves behind a legacy that includes helping to kill Durham’s long-in-the-works light rail project and allegedly calling a black parking attendant a “dumb, dumb stupid [n-word]” after striking her with his Porsche.

“Tallman will rightfully be remembered at Duke for his steady transformation of our campus, as he delivered a modern, indeed spectacular physical plant that better promotes the health and well-being of all who work and live here,” said President Vincent E. Price.

Yep, that’s what he’ll be remembered for. Definitely. 

Trask started working for Duke in 1995. His first major accomplishment, according to a real-live-no-bullshit press release, was saving incoming freshmen from “a diet of dry cereal and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches” by overhauling the dining facilities on the East Campus. 

“It’s been a rewarding ride,” Trask said in a press statement. 

One of Mr. Trask The Third’s most notable rides ended with a black parking attendant on the hood of his Porsche.

In 2014, parking attendant Shelvia Underwood filed a lawsuit against Trask for battery, negligence, civil conspiracy, and obstruction of justice, claiming she stopped Trask on the night of a football game before being struck by his car. As he drove off, he allegedly called her “a dumb, dumb stupid [n-word].”

Trask disputed her version of events, but nevertheless issued an apology for his conduct during the incident, which ignited outrage on campus and calls for his termination. Duke being Duke, he kept his job. 

Trask was also instrumental is axing the light rail project earlier this year.

After first attempting to reroute part of the project through a historically black neighborhood instead of along Erwin Road in Durham—which GoTriangle said would have been impossible that late in the process—Trask and other Duke officials claimed the project would cause electromagnetic interference disruptive to Duke’s Global Health Research Center.

Because of the objections of Duke and other key stakeholders, the light rail project missed key deadlines and died. 

Our buddy Tallman isn’t the only Duke official to have stuck his head into a racially charged buzzsaw in recent years. Case in point: Last year, fellow Duke VP Larry Moneta got two campus Joe Van Gogh workers fired after he heard a rap song by Young Dolph in the shop. Later, he managed to offend Duke’s Asian American students while posting from China. He has since retired

Contact staff writer Leigh Tauss at ltauss@indyweek.com. 

Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle. 

One reply on “Tallman Trask III, Duke VP Who Helped Kill Light Rail and Allegedly Called Parking Attendant the N-Word, to Retire”

Comments are closed.