Duke Mag-DAA:Changing of the Guard-Jul/Aug 2002

Beyond Tourism • DAA:Changing of the Guard • Honoring Engineering Alumni

DAA:Changing of the Guard

President Gary Melchionni '73, J.D. '81 turned over the gavel to Wilt Alston B.S.E. '81 at the end of the weekend meeting of the Duke Alumni Association's board of directors in May. Melchionni called his year as DAA leader "another installment of my payback to Duke for what it has done for me and my family."

His two goals, he said, were met: to implement the DAA's strategic plan and to make its president more visible. "Duke is in a golden age," he said. "The level the university is taking itself to is the same as that of the Duke Alumni Association."

The weekend began with a hard-hat tour of the new West-Edens Link (WEL) residence-hall complex, followed by a luncheon on Friday. The guest speaker was Jane Gaines, literature professor and director of the Duke Film and Video Program (who, appropriately, presented a video describing the program); she was accompanied by her research associate, Josh Gibson '95.

Sterly Wilder '83, director of the Annual Fund, gave an update on the progress of the Campaign for Duke--90 percent toward its goal of $2 billion--and the Annual Fund, thanking the board for its nearly 100 percent participation in the latter. David Jarmul, the director of Duke News Service, then discussed "e-Duke," a project that will encompass a redesign and restructuring of the university's homepage, a new communications- and collaboration-oriented model for the news service, and a chance for alumni (and others) to select specific types of news that would be sent to them electronically on a regular basis.

Reports followed. Ruth Wade Ross '68, immediate past president of the DAA, reported on trustee actions. There are plans for the university to spend $600 million on various projects: adding to the admissions office building, renovating Kilgo Quad housing, creating a student wellness center, expanding the Washington Duke Inn, and overhauling Central Campus, among other construction. Some of the trustees' concerns include the football program and the overall athletics experience, women's health related to alcohol use, campus safety, and the residential-life experience. Ross becomes a voting member of the board of trustees, having served ex officio as DAA past president this year.

Melchionni, in his president's report, listed some of the alumni events he attended, in line with his goal of making the DAA president more visible: Reunion Weekend, alumni club gatherings, new-student "accept" parties, events with Duke President Nannerl O. Keohane, and a meeting with Duke's trustees, before whom he reviewed the alumni association's activities.

In his director's report, Laney Funderburk '60 discussed some budget items and upcoming credit-card contract negotiations, the Final Four party celebrating Duke women's basketball, record-breaking attendance at DAA sponsored commencement parties, and the refurbishing of the carriage house behind Alumni House to relocate the reunions program and Duke Magazine's offices.

Standing committees met during the afternoon, followed by cocktails and dinner at the Doris Duke Center at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Gardens director Richard A. White was guest speaker.

At Saturday morning's breakfast, David Ferriero, university librarian and vice provost, presented the plans for Perkins Library's expansion, a key part of the Campaign for Duke's envisioned campus enhancements.

The standing committees then gave reports:

Alumni Admissions' chair Sally Burks Schmalz '87 announced the two incoming freshmen selected to receive Alumni Endowed Undergraduate Scholarships and the status of children of alumni who applied to the Class of 2006. Twenty-five more students than last year were admitted; 673 applied. The committee proposed a joint project with alumni clubs, a send-off party in July for incoming freshmen in that town or region. For accepted students not yet committed, current students from their hometowns could phone or e-mail them in April to help them decide to come to Duke.

In the absence of Alumni Education & Travel's chair Tom Clark '69, committee member Dina Meyers '94 summarized some of the year's trips abroad and discussed some of the local educational events, such as the Baseball in America event that attracted 420 alumni and friends to the American Museum of Natural History in New York; Dick Groat '53 was one of the guest speakers. Duke Directions and Art Sparks, held during Reunion Weekend, drew record numbers to classroom lecture sessions and performances by Duke artists; the 20th Century Lives series, co-sponsored with the history department, also had a large draw.

Clubs' chair William P. Miller '77 addressed programming for young alumni, as well as how to define "young alumni." The committee is also assessing topic-driven speakers for club events. Clubs will be canvassed for their wants and speakers will be tailored to those suggestions. Some of the more popular events have been those for young alumni, visits by President Keohane, and receptions connected to concerts and stage performances.

Duke Magazine and Communications' chair Wilt Alston B.S.E. '81 reported that the magazine had met sixteen of its twenty Strategic Plan goals. He also recapped the committee conversation with Duke News Service director David Jarmul about the role of the magazine as a resource within the e-Duke project, and its deliberations on the DAA website's electronic privacy policy, which was drafted initially by committee member Sarah Harrington Adams '70, J.D. '73.

In the absence of Member Benefits & Services' chair Cedric D. Jones '82, Alumni Affairs director Funderburk reported on a presentation to the committee by a company about introducing more group insurance offerings, beyond health coverage. Another topic was alumni career services from Duke; a search for a new Career Center director is concluded.

Reunions' chair Michele Miller Sales '78, J.D. '81 reported some Reunion Weekend statistics, including total attendance of 3,102, up 18 percent from a decade ago; and online registration at 40 percent, from every class, even the Class of 1937. Next year, fifty-fifth and sixtieth reunion classes will have separate reunions in addition to the Half Century Club reunion.

After recognizing board members who completed their terms, the meeting ended with the gavel passing from Melchionni to Alston. Board members and staff took part in a community-service project, sponsored by Duke University Retirees Organization (DURO), at Lakewood Elementary School.

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