The Graduate and Professional Student Council discussed the role and impact of the Young Trustee among other agenda items at its meeting Tuesday.

GPSC met to discuss the overlap of goals between subcommittees of the council and receive guidance from Graduate Young Trustee Katherine Duch, Sanford '13. She now works for the Analyst Institute in Washington D.C. The GPSC will vote for a new graduate Young Trustee next Tuesday.

This is Duch’s first year serving on Duke’s Board of Trustees, but she served on Cornell’s board as an undergraduate student. She said she gained experience in reviewing documents such as financial plans, confidence to speak with distinguished alumni and knowledge of the challenges that institutions of higher education face.

As a recent graduate, Duch said managing the balance between launching her career and remaining an active trustee is the biggest challenge.

“You think 'It’s four meetings a year—how onerous can it be?' But… it really does require quite a bit of time to stay up-to-date,” Duch said.

Responsibilities of the Young Trustee include more than meetings, Duch said. She is also responsible for keeping up with emails, reading advanced materials sent to the trustees, following up with administrators and arranging what she calls “pre-meetings.”

These pre-meetings involve Duch and her fellow Young Trustee Dr. Malik Burnett, Trinity '07, School of Medicine '12 and Fuqua '12, as well as 10 to 12 representatives from GPSC. She said this helps them stay in tune with campus life.

“I sometimes feel like graduate student concerns take a backseat to undergraduate student concerns,” Duch said.

She noted that Board meetings typically include luncheons with students, all of whom are undergraduates. In one instance, focus groups were invited to speak to small groups of Trustees, and again, no graduate students were invited.

A few GPSC representatives raised questions to Duch about the possibility that a change in voting structure or an increase in term length could change graduate student prominence on the Board.

Duch said she sees benefits and drawbacks to a term of three years instead of two. She said that while the third year of a graduate Young Trustee’s service could be his most productive, GPSC would have to elect fewer trustees or ask the Board for more representation.

“It would be extraordinarily hard to convince the Board that they need to allocate an extra seat to a graduate or professional student,” Duch said.

Duch was also asked if a current graduate student would be able to fulfill the Young Trustee position better, given that such a student would be closer to student life. Duch saw the value in such a scenario, but noted that due to differing lengths of graduate school time, unfair advantages would be given to students whose studies took longer.

For their third meeting of the academic year, the Board will take a February retreat to Stanford University, Duch noted, meeting with their administrators and trustees to learn about how the university deals with similar challenges.

In other business:

The Housing Committee is in the process of deciding which web provider to use for their housing website, which would include a roommate finder as well as listings for available housing options. The Chronicle, through its NearDuke website, is among the candidates being considered.

GPSC Attorney General Brad Hover, a fifth-year doctoral candidate in biochemistry, formally announced the Young Trustee candidates: Bill Hunt, a sixth-year doctoral candidate in English, Shannon O’Connor, a fifth-year dual medical and doctoral candidate in biomedical engineering; and Amol Yadav, a fourth-year doctoral candidate in biomedical engineering.

The Executive Committee plans to host an informative recruiting event for prospective committee members to ask questions about the responsibilities of the executive position.