Three finalists chosen for undergraduate Young Trustee
The Young Trustee Nominating Committee has named three students as finalists for the position—seniors Neil Kondamuri, Jacob Tobia and Katherine Zhang.
The committee was able to narrow the pool of 10 semi-finalists after six hours of deliberation, said YTNC Chair Katya Prosvirkina.
Prosvirkina, a senior, noted that the YTNC strongly considered the purpose and definition of the role in its discussions. She added that although many perceive the Young Trustee as an advocate for students, the Trustee in reality functions more as a representative.
“The role has sort of altered in meaning in that the Young Trustee doesn’t necessarily have to be an advocate of the students, but rather someone to represent to the Board what it meant for them to be a student in their own time at Duke,” Prosvirkina said.
The Young Trustee serves three years on the Board of Trustees—one year as a nonvoting member and two years as a voting member. Chris Brown, Trinity '13, was elected Young Trustee in last year's election.
All 10 of the applicants for the position were chosen as semi-finalists, and Prosvirkina noted the strength of each application, saying that the pool’s collective talent made the decision process “very difficult.”
Kondamuri, a native of Munster, Ind., is a public policy major and an economics minor. Currently a member of The Chronicle's independent editorial board, he served last year as Duke Student Government's vice president of social culture. He also is a member of a fraternity, works at the rock climbing wall in Wilson Recreation Center and has served as a crew leader for Project BUILD for three years.
Tobia is pursuing a Program II major in Human Rights Advocacy and Leadership and is originally from Raleigh, N.C. The vice president of equity and outreach for DSG, he has served in the past as president of Blue Devils United and is the founder and co-president of Duke Students for Gender Neutrality. Tobia is also a member of the executive team for DukeOpen, a student group advocating for endowment transparency and responsible investing.
Zhang served as chair of The Chronicle's editorial board last year and remains on the board as a member. From Charlotte, N.C., she is double majoring in English and economics. She is also a Robertson Scholar and a facilitator for Common Ground.
This year, the YTNC tweaked their process for declaring conflicts of interest between committee members and applicants—adding a ‘moderate’ category to the preexisting ‘major’ and ‘minor’ conflicts. Committee members with major conflicts of interest can neither speak nor vote on an applicant, whereas those with moderate conflicts can speak but cannot vote. Those with minor conflicts can do both.
The 14 members of the YTNC declared 26 minor conflicts of interest, 13 moderate conflicts of interest and 14 major conflicts of interest with the 10 semifinalists. The conflicts of interest were displayed throughout the deliberations and the guidelines were adhered to, Prosvirkina said.
Two people on the fourteen member committee resigned during the process, Prosvirkina said—one due to the time commitment of Panhellenic Association recruitment and the other due to a combination of Panhel recruitment and major conflicts of interest with a number of applicants.
This article was updated at 2:26 p.m. to reflect new information.