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BOT elects Rubenstein as chair

The Board of Trustees elected David Rubenstein, Trinity ’70, as Board chair in its meeting this weekend.

Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of private equity firm The Carlyle Group, is well known for his philanthropic support of the University, having donated over $50 million to the University. His most recent contribution to Duke was a $10 million donation to the Sanford School of Public Policy, announced Apr. 30. He has been on the board for eight years, and has spent the last two years serving as co-vice chair with Jack Bovender, Trinity ’67 and Graduate School ’69.

Rubenstein’s term as chair is effective July 1. He will succeed Richard Wagoner, Trinity ’75, who has served as board chair since 2011. Wagoner’s term on the Board concludes at the end of the fiscal year.

“I’ve been very impressed by his commitment to the University,” Wagoner said. “He’s a very open guy. I look forward to a great period for the Board of Trustees under his leadership.”

Bovender and Susan Stalnecker, Trinity ’73, will serve as vice chairs of the board. Stalnecker is the first female to fill the role of vice chair, Rubenstein said.

Neither Bovender nor Stalnecker could be reached for comment in time for publication.

In addition to the election, the Board received updates on several University initiatives, including online education, Duke Kunshan University and DukeOpen.

Under new leadership

Rubenstein, who also serves as co-chair of the Duke Forward campaign, noted that his continuous dedication to serving the University both philanthropically and as a member of the Board stems from a desire to give back.

Growing up in a household with parents that did not graduate from high school or college, Rubenstein needed considerable financial compensation to attend college. He noted that of all the universities he applied to, Duke was the most financially generous, giving him a full-ride through financial aid, loans and work study.

“I’ve always been indebted to Duke,” he said. “It’s my general view that if you get fortunate in life with material resources you should give back…. Since Duke was very good for me, it’s one of the places I like to help out when I can.”

A person can serve on the Board for a total of 12 years in any capacity. Rubenstein has served on the Board for eight years, giving him a total of four years to serve as chair.

He noted that the Board has diversified since he first joined.

“The Board used to consist of all white males,” he said. “Today, it’s pretty much split evenly by gender and it has a fair amount of diversity in other ways as well. It’s good for the University to get many different types of input from different backgrounds.”

In his time as chairman, Rubenstein hopes to continue seeing the Trustees work together “in unison.” He added that since he’s been on the Board, he has never seen the members vote— decisions are always made by consensus.

“The Board is not divided as some university boards that have big splits,” he said. “This Board works very collegially. It’s a pleasure to sit through the board meetings.”

Rubenstein added that he also hopes to see the men’s and women’s basketball teams win NCAA tournaments during his time as Board chair.

University updates

Provost Peter Lange discussed online education with the Board in the aftermath of the Arts and Sciences Council voting down for-credit online courses. 

The Arts and Sciences Council vote broke a pre-existing contract with internet education company 2U, which entered the University as a partner in the company’s Semester Online consortium of schools. Prior to the vote, neither the decision to pursue online courses for credit nor the decision to sign with 2U was voted on by any faculty body or committee.

Lange said the discussion with the Board was brief. They discussed why the issue was voted down and how administrators will follow-up on the matter in the Fall. He said the outcome of the faculty vote was in large part a result of timing.

“The intense opposition came up very late and we had to get a vote by the end of the semester if we were going to start in the Fall, so things got kind of squeezed,” Lange said. “As a result we weren’t really able to talk through all the issues with people who were so intensely opposed and the vote went against us. It was really low key.”

He added that administrators still plan on moving forward with Semester Online, but did not specify in what capacity.

Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, said the Board also had a “wide-ranging” conversation with Mary Bullock, executive vice chancellor of Duke Kunshan University, about the status of DKU.

The application for establishment approval, which is the second part of the two-step process, has been submitted to the Ministry of Education,” Schoenfeld wrote in an email Sunday. “We expect the approval will be forthcoming in time to meet the planned opening of the University in 2014.”

DKU’s opening has been delayed five times, and now is set to open in Fall 2014. The Board is confident that the campus will open at that time, Wagoner said.

He added that the Board also discussed DukeOpen, a new student coalition advocating for greater endowment transparency.

DukeOpen created a proposal in early April asking the Board to make periodic reports to the Duke community about how the University’s money is being directed. The coalition intended for the proposal to be presented at this weekend’s Board meeting, but it was directed to the President’s Special Committee on Investment Responsibility

President Richard Brodhead discussed DukeOpen with the Board, Wagoner said, adding that the Board should hear back from the Committee during its next meeting in September.

“People are aware of the topic and are awaiting input from this committee,” Wagoner said.

Brodhead could not be reached for comment in time for publication.

In other business

The Trustees also approved the capital budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which anticipates a 4.6 percent increase in undergraduate financial aid to $132 million. This follows the Board’s announcement in February that the cost of undergraduate tuition will increase 3.9 percent.

“Frankly, because of the economic downturn, we’ve had more financial aid costs,” Wagoner said.

Schoenfeld noted that financial aid is always increasing at a higher rate than tuition because the number of students applying and qualifying for financial aid has increased.

Executive Vice President and Treasurer Tallman Trask noted that the rate of financial aid increase is less than it was a few years ago. He does not foresee it leveling off any time soon, he said.

The Trustees also approved the University’s operating budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, totaling $2.1 billion—the same as last year. 


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