Three new members joined the Duke University Board of Trustees on July 1, the school announced Wednesday.
The new trustees are Mary T. Barra, chairman and chief executive officer of General Motors Company; Kelly C. Tang, a seventh-year Ph.D. candidate in Duke’s Department of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies; and Ibrahim Butt, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in political science.
As the university's governing body, the Board of Trustees is responsible for the school's educational mission and fiscal policies. There are 37 trustees plus four observers on the board.
Barra, who received an honorary doctor of science degree from Duke in 2018, will serve a six-year term. She and her husband, Tony, served as chairs of the Duke Parents Committee from 2018-2020. Barra also serves on the Duke Kunshan University Advisory Board. Barra was elected chair of the GM board of directors in 2016, two years after becoming CEO.
Under Barra’s leadership, GM envisions a world with zero crashes, to save lives; zero emissions, so future generations can inherit a healthier planet; and zero congestion, so customers get back a precious commodity – time.
Barra holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Kettering University (formerly General Motors Institute) and an MBA from Stanford University.
Prior to becoming CEO, Barra led GM in global product development, purchasing and supply chain, global human resources and global manufacturing engineering. She serves on the board of directors of the Walt Disney Company and the Detroit Economic Club. In addition, she is a member of The Business Council and an at-large board member of the Business Roundtable, where she also serves as the chair of the Education and Workforce Committee.
Tang was selected by the Graduate and Professional Student Council as a young trustee. She will serve a three-year term, as an observer during her first year on the board and as a voting member in her second and third years. Tang’s research in the department of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies focuses on modern and contemporary Chinese art, specifically the global history of ink painting.
She was the 2019-2020 Graduate School administrative intern in Graduate Student Affairs. Tang also served as a Central Campus graduate resident in Housing and Residential Life from 2015-2019. In addition, she is the president and founder of the Duke Graduate Women’s Wellness and Self-Care Club, a graduate student organization focused on social and mental well-being.
Prior to matriculating at Duke University, she completed her master’s degree with distinction in modern Chinese studies at the University of Oxford and her bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) in art history and Asian American Studies at UCLA. While studying at UCLA, she was the J. Paul Getty Multicultural Intern in the Photography, Prints, and Drawings department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
A San Diego, California native, Tang enjoys ballet, Latin dance, drawing and hand-lettering in her spare time.
Butt, selected by his fellow undergraduates as a young trustee, will serve a two-year term, as an observer during his first year and as a voting member in his second year. A native of Blackburn, England, Butt served as co-president of Duke’s Low Income/First Generation students club, as a board member of the university’s Center for Race Relations and as a student representative on the Undergraduate Education Committee of the Board of Trustees.
During his time on campus, Butt’s political research ranged from the legal intersection of freedom of speech and religion to independent research in Chile, Nepal and Jordan on the plight of stateless people in post-conflict areas.
Beyond Duke, he has volunteered as an advocate for the Community Empowerment Fund, a nonprofit that helps Durham residents gain access to housing, employment and government resources. He also served as a mentor to low-income middle school students through the Duke-Durham School Days program.
In Blackburn, Butt still works on issues of community segregation and race relations through a community development organization he founded prior to coming to Duke.