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Trustees Hold Fall Meeting, Review Endowment Results

Allen Building in fall

The Duke University Board of Trustees began a year-long strategic education program on the critical issues facing higher education and academic medicine at its quarterly meetings Friday and Saturday.  The meetings were conducted by videoconference.

The strategic education program, which was devised by a committee of trustees, administrators and faculty, will guide the board in considering strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, with a particular focus on how Duke’s brand should be leveraged for continued excellence.  Friday’s meeting included discussion of public perceptions of higher education, Duke’s current reputation and position, and a recap of the university’s visioning process, Strategy Team 2030, which President Vincent E. Price created at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure continued focus on Duke’s long-term plans amidst the ongoing public health crisis.

Future meetings will look at evolving models in undergraduate and graduate education, research, employment and health care.

The Board also reviewed the annual report on Duke University’s endowment, which is managed by DUMAC. The university’s endowment registered a 55.9 percent annual return on its long-term pool, the primary investment vehicle for its assets, bringing the market value as of June 30, 2021, to a record $12.7 billion.

The university’s endowment, along with other assets managed by DUMAC like The Duke Endowment, a private foundation based in Charlotte, invests charitable contributions to provide a permanent source of support for programs designated by donors.  

Each year the university aims to spend between 4.5 percent and 5.5 percent of the average value of endowment funds over the three previous calendar years to finance critical academic initiatives like student financial assistance, faculty salaries, facilities and research.  For the 2020-21 fiscal year, endowment and other investment income provided $656 million, or 23 percent, of the university’s operating budget.

“This has been a tumultuous time in so many ways, but these extraordinary gains and the generosity of our donors will have a positive impact on Duke for several years to come by providing additional funding for our operating budgets,” said Price. “The Duke community has worked hard to address financial challenges that predated, but were amplified by, the pandemic.  This growth in the value of the endowment means we will now have the opportunity to engage more deeply in strategic priorities like student aid and research, and will provide much-needed support for our essential core services and activities.”

Over the past 10 years, DUMAC has been one of the highest-performing university investment managers, recording a three-, five- and ten-year return of 18.9 percent, 16.4 percent and 11.6 percent, respectively.

In other business, the Board:

  • Welcomed incoming trustees Doha Ali, Mike Bingle, Eddy Cue, Nancy-Ann DeParle, Grant Hill, Gerardo Párraga and Vikas Patel.
  • Welcomed Nina King, Vice President and Director of Athletics, Edgardo Colon-Emeric, Dean of the Divinity School; and Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, Dean of the School of Nursing, who were all appointed since the May trustees meeting.
  • Discussed the continuing implementation of the Next Generation Living and Learning Experience Initiative with Vice President and Vice Provost for Student Affairs Mary Pat McMahon and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Gary Bennett.
  • Reviewed the university’s annual financial report with Executive Vice President Daniel Ennis and Vice President for Finance Rachel Satterfield.
  • Received an update on Duke’s COVID-19 efforts from President Price and the senior leadership team.
  • Participated in the Class of 2020 commencement activities and recognized the awarding of University Medals to emeritus trustees Pete Nicholas and Rick Wagoner, and honorary degrees to Ken Jeong, Mary Schmidt Campbell, Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman.