Andrew Kragie honored for reporting on canceled Muslim call to prayer at Duke chapel


The 2015 grad’s article for a student magazine dissected the university’s decision-making in an episode that sparked protests and headlines.


By Jillian Apel


Recent Duke graduate Andrew Kragie has been awarded the 2015 Melcher Family Award for Excellence in Journalism for his behind-the-scenes reporting on the university’s decision early last year to cancel a weekly Muslim call to prayer at the school’s iconic chapel.

The Melcher Award is funded by 1974 graduate Richard Melcher, a strategic marketing and communications adviser and former journalist. It recognizes the best journalistic piece in the past year by an undergraduate Duke student.

Kragie is being honored for his January 2015 article (“A Second Best Decision”) in Towerview, a magazine published by Duke’s student newspaper.

“That reporting experience confirmed my inkling of a desire to pursue a journalism career, so this comes as a great affirmation and encouragement,” Kragie said.

Kragie’s first-person investigation reviewed the arguments and thinking behind a decision that provoked protests on campus and outrage across the country.

Rumors among students that Duke administrators canceled the call to prayer to appease religious donors sparked Kragie’s interest. He also said he has a long-standing interest in interfaith matters. In the article, Kragie wrote that he aimed “to share what I have learned fairly and thoroughly, but not without bias.”

“I do not pretend to cover this objectively, as I am involved in the Chapel’s Christian and interfaith ministries.” he explained, adding: “I hope this article answers some of the questions that have nagged at Duke’s mind and conscience” since the January 2015 decision.

Kragie interviewed two dozen people for the nearly 4,000-word article, in which he detailed plans for the call to prayer, or adhan, from its conception to cancellation. He also examined how the controversy — including evangelist Franklin Graham’s call for alumni and donors to boycott the university — also reflected the many meanings of the chapel itself.

Kragie double majored in political science and public policy with a certificate in Latin American Studies. He was the student commencement speaker at last year’s graduation and now works as a reporter for the Houston Chronicle.

As part of the Melcher award, he will receive $1,000 at an April 18 dinner hosted by the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy, which also will be presenting the 2016 Futrell Award honoring a Duke alumna working in journalism or media.

Mumbi Kanyogo T’19 will also be recognized at the dinner for her honorable mention article Coming to America, published in The Standard, November 5th, 2015.

Melcher worked for Businessweek before co-founding Melcher+Tucker Consultants in Chicago. While at Duke, he too wrote for the student paper, The Chronicle.