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Trustees Address University Efforts on Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism

The Duke University Board of Trustees endorsed the university’s efforts to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism in a wide-ranging series of sessions and conversations at its quarterly meeting Friday and Saturday.  The meeting was conducted entirely online.

The trustees heard interim reports from President Vincent E. Price and the university leadership about efforts to address commitments made in June as American society confronted the legacy and ongoing challenge of systemic racism in the wake of violent actions against Black women and men that prompted continuing nationwide protests. An update will be provided to the university community by mid-October. 

The trustees also unanimously approved Price’s recommendation to name the Sociology-Psychology Building on Duke’s West Campus after the late Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke, who was one the first five Black undergraduates at Duke and went on to a distinguished career as a scholar, academic leader and trustee of both Duke University and The Duke Endowment.   (Read more about the naming of the Reuben-Cooke Building in Duke Today.)

The trustees heard reports and engaged with university leadership on a number of areas, including the current status of Duke’s response to COVID-19, updates from Strategy Teams 2021 and 2030, and first-year impressions from Vice President and Vice Provost for Student Affairs Mary Pat McMahon and Vice President for Institutional Equity Kimberly Hewitt.

In other business, the trustees:

  • Reviewed the annual report on Duke’s endowment, which is managed by DUMAC. The university’s endowment recorded a 0.7 percent annual return on its long-term pool, the primary investment vehicle for its assets, in an extraordinarily volatile year for investors. The market value of the university's endowment as of June 30, 2020, stood at a $8.5 billion, a slight decline from the last year’s total of $8.6 billion.  Duke’s endowment provides a permanent source of support for university programs and priorities as designated by donors. Income from the endowment and other university investments provided more than $600 million for student financial aid, faculty salaries, facilities, athletics and other critical academic and support services in the last fiscal year. 
  • Convened the first meetings of the three strategic task forces for FY-21: “Climate Change and Sustainability,” “Duke’s Centennial Celebration” and “Duke and Durham, Today and Tomorrow.”  The task forces include trustees, faculty, staff, students and administrators, and will be meeting throughout the year to deliver recommendations to university leadership in May.
  • Received updates on the implementation of recommendations from the 2018-19 strategic task forces on science and technology, next generation living and learning, activating the global network and Central Campus.
  • Convened regular meetings of the Audit and Compliance, Governance, Resources, External Engagement, Graduate and Professional Education, and Undergraduate Education committees.
  • Approved construction of a new thermal plant to provide steam to campus buildings, a new central generator plant to provide emergency power capacity, and a new chilled water storage tank.  The $43 million project is part of the ongoing replacement and upgrade of campus utilities.
  • Adopted a resolution of appreciation for Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield, who is retiring at the end of September after 42 years of government service, the last 12 as Durham’s chief administrator.