A Long-Range Look by DAA First Look


The board of directors of the Duke Alumni Association held its winter meeting February 9-11, a weekend that featured strategic planning, an address from Duke’s president, a look at advanced technologies at Duke Medical Center and Perkins Library, a jazz soloist in concert, Bullock’s barbecue, and Blue Devil basketball. On Friday, following a luncheon at the Washington Duke Inn, President Nannerl O. Keohane discussed “Building on Excellence,” the title of the university’s long-range strategic plan. She described it as “a plan with some teeth, a plan that has made choices, and one with financial underpinnings.” Keohane discussed the nine priorities upon which Duke’s strategic plan is based: 1) build an excellent faculty of teacher-scholars in every school; 2) significantly strengthen science and engineering; 3) be among the best at integrative teaching, learning, and research; 4) promote major multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary programs; 5) promote diversity in every aspect of university life; 6) intensify the use of information technology; 7) nurture the personal and intellectual growth of students by building community in every realm of their lives; 8) extend Duke’s global reach and influence; and 9) take a leadership role in reaching partnerships and collaborations.
Alumni Affairs director M. Laney Funderburk Jr. ’60 then presented an overview of the strategic plan developed for the alumni affairs office, working in concert with the DAA. This nearly final version was the substance from which the board’s standing committees were to draw suggestions for action items in meetings during the weekend. Board members then took part in an afternoon tour of the medical center, with an overview conducted by Russel E. Kaufman, dean for medical education at the medical school and professor of medical oncology in the department of medicine. That evening featured a cocktail buffet at the Durham Arts Center and a concert performance by jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon at the Carolina Theater.
On Saturday, after a morning of standing committee meetings, the board gathered in Perkins Library for an overview of digital content that might be made available to alumni, presented by vice provost and university librarian David Ferriero. Afterwards, there was a breakout session for standing committees, held in the Rare Book Room’s individual-collections libraries. The day concluded with a “pig picking” at the Devil’s Den, provided by Bullock’s, for student leaders and board members.
Sunday morning’s closing business meeting included a report from the travel program by its director, Deborah Weiss Fowlkes ’78, and from Duke Magazine, by editor Robert J. Bliwise A.M. ’88. Immediate past president Gwynne Young ’71, who serves as a trustee ex officio, updated the DAA board on trustee decisions that have begun a campus building boom in research facilities and residential housing. She also proposed that the DAA bylaws be amended to include two new at-large members. A motion to do so was made, seconded, and passed by unanimous voice vote. DAA president Ruth Wade Ross ’68, in her report, thanked the board and the alumni staff for their efforts in creating a worthy strategic-planning document to present to the board of trustees. Ross, who serves as a nonvoting member of the trustees during her year’s tenure as DAA president, has been appointed by the trustees to represent Duke on the North Carolina governor’s Alcohol and Substance Abuse Task Force. She stated that the DAA board supports the university’s alcohol policy and cautioned alumni not to provide alcohol to students or their affinity groups when visiting campus.
Funderburk, in his director’s report, announced that alumni clubs director Bert Fisher ’80 has been promoted to associate director of alumni affairs and George Dorfman ’85 has moved up from coordinator to director of the alumni clubs program. He also informed the board of the planned construction this spring at Alumni House to add more offices, and said that Bernard C. Harris Publishing Company will be developing Duke’s first online alumni directory. Funderburk proposed an increase in DAA dues from $35 to $40 for individuals, and from $50 to $60 for Duke couples; he noted that the last dues increase was in 1995. A motion was made to approve the increase, seconded, and unanimously approved by voice vote.
Standing-committee reports followed. Tom Clark ’69, representing Reunions and Classes Committee chair Michele Miller Sales ’78, J.D. ’81 in her absence, said his committee focused on the areas in the strategic plan that deal with affinity groups, enhancing volunteers’ experiences, student involvement, and enhancing class identity. Awards and Recognition Committee chair Wilt Alston B.S.E. ’81 reported that his group had selected the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award, to be announced later. The committee is still in the selection process for other awards, such as voluntary service, community service, and student scholarships.

Gary Melchionni ’73, J.D. ’81, co-chair of the Clubs and External Programming Committee, said that his group looked at three areas from its perspective: enhancing the volunteer experience, strengthening and planning regional programs and lifelong learning opportunities, and strengthening on-campus programs.

David Johnston ’62, representing the Member Benefits and Services Committee chair Cedric Jones ’82 in his absence, said his committee took a broad approach by looking at all areas of the strategic plan, since each reflects a service or benefit to alumni. Technology Committee chair Page Murray ’85 reported that his committee recognized some immediate actions to be taken: develop a plan for surveying alumni online to determine what they want, begin to draft a privacy policy for the DAA website and online alumni information, and monitor “hits” in specific areas of the website to determine concentrations of interests.

The meeting adjourned, followed by a luncheon and the afternoon’s Duke-N.C. State men’s basketball game.

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