Duke Trustees Conduct Quarterly Meeting, Elect Sperling as Next Chair

Laurene Sperling, a Duke alumna who has served on the Board of Trustees since 2010, will be the next board chair.
Laurene Sperling, a Duke alumna who has served on the Board of Trustees since 2010, will be the next board chair.

Laurene Sperling, an investment executive, philanthropist, and nonprofit board leader, will be the next chair of the Duke University Board of Trustees, succeeding Jack O. Bovender on July 1, 2021. Sperling was elected to the two-year term at the Board’s quarterly meeting that concluded Saturday. 

A Raleigh native and 1978 Duke graduate who later earned an MBA from Harvard, Sperling was first elected to the Board of Trustees in 2010. She has served as vice-chair since 2017, and has also led the Institutional Advancement Committee, the Undergraduate Education Committee, the Committee on Trusteeship and the ad-hoc task force on governance. 

“I am deeply honored by the opportunity to chair the Duke Board of Trustees at a time when universities play a crucial role in shaping modern society,” Sperling said. “This board is an extraordinarily talented group of people whose commitment to Duke is inspiring. I look forward to working with my fellow trustees, President Price and his team to continue to advance this university’s remarkable trajectory.”  

Sperling was the first woman in her family to attend college. After graduating from Duke with a degree in management science and accounting, she worked as a CPA and then moved into investment banking and venture capital, first at Paine Webber and then at Cowen and Company. She currently oversees the investment management of a family office enterprise, which, in addition to growing financial capital also includes Barah Collective LLC, an impact investing entity and the Sperling Family Charitable Foundation.  

Sperling’s focus for more than two decades has been foundation and nonprofit leadership in education, early childhood development, workforce development, health care and poverty alleviation. She served as chair of the board of BELLXcel, a national leader in after-school and summer programs for children at risk, where the Sperling Center for Research and Innovation was established in honor of her leadership.   

She is currently on the board of Social Finance US, Combined Jewish Philanthropies and the Corporation of Mass General Brigham Health, and is a member of the Harvard Business School Dean’s Board of Advisors, Harvard Business School Social Enterprise Initiative Advisory Board, Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean’s Board of Advisors, and the Brigham Health Steering Committees for Women’s Medicine and Community Care. Sperling is also a member of the Association of Governing Board’s (AGB) Council of Board Chairs, which includes college and university trustees from across the country, and the AGB Principles Project national task force. 

Sperling and her husband Scott live in Wayland, Massachusetts. They have four children including two Duke graduates, Zachary Adam Sperling T`13 and Melanie Elizabeth Sperling T`14.  

In other business, the Duke Trustees: 

  • Reviewed Duke’s ongoing education, research and health care activities related to COVID-19, the experience of the fall 2020 semester and plans for the spring 2021 semester  
  • Participated in a strategic education session on university finances. 
  • Heard updates on the School of Nursing and Athletics. 
  • Conducted regular meetings of the following standing committees: Audit and Compliance, Governance, External Engagement, Graduate and Professional Education and Research, Resources, Undergraduate Education and Honorary Degrees. 
  • Conducted regular meetings of the strategic task forces on Climate Change and Sustainability, Duke’s Centennial Celebration and Duke and Durham Today and Tomorrow. 
  • Welcomed Daniel Ennis, the university’s new executive vice president, who most recently served as senior vice president for finance and administration at The Johns Hopkins University. 
  • Passed a Resolution of Tribute to Tallman Trask III, who retired on November 30 after 25 years at Duke, and named him executive vice president, emeritus. 
  • Welcomed Kara Lawson, the new head women’s basketball coach. 

The next Board of Trustees meeting will be February 26-27, 2021.