The Chronicle: What do you feel are the greatest qualities of a Young Trustee?
Katherine Duch: First and foremost, Young Trustees should be passionate about contributing to Duke. Young Trustees should also be engaged, thoughtful, articulate and confident. They should solicit students' perspectives. They should consider other stakeholders' views, and they should feel confident sharing their own opinions.
TC: What do you think is the primary role of a Young Trustee?
KD: All trustees have a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of the University as a whole, not in the best interests of any one group of stakeholders. Young Trustees also have a unique opportunity to contribute to Board discussions by sharing the perspectives of their peers. Thus the primary roles of Young Trustees are to combine these two responsibilities—to act in the best interests of the University while ensuring that recent graduates and current students have a voice at the table.
TC: What are the challenges and difficulties of being a Young Trustee?
KD: I joined the Board in July, defended my dissertation in August, started working full-time in September and attended my first Board meetings in October. Over the past six months of my Board tenure, the biggest challenge has been carving out time to serve as an effective Young Trustee while simultaneously launching my career.
TC: What do you like about being a Young Trustee?
KD: I have most enjoyed interacting with trustees, administrators, faculty and students. I have met with graduate and professional student leaders before each Board meeting and with undergraduate student leaders after each Board meeting. Because I have studied higher education extensively since my freshman year of college, I have also enjoyed using that knowledge to contribute to Board discussions.
TC: Do you have anything to say to this year's candidates?
KD: It is a tremendous honor to serve as a Young Trustee. Each candidate has been extensively involved in graduate and professional student life and would be able to use those experiences to contribute to the Board.
TC: What is your opinion of the way in which graduate Young Trustees are elected?
KD: Like any electoral process, there are benefits and drawbacks to the current system of indirect elections. While almost all undergraduates spend four years on campus, the amount of time that graduate students spend on campus varies widely. The graduate Young Trustee finalists in 2012 ranged from an outstanding candidate who had only been on campus for two years to another outstanding candidate who had been on campus for nine years. The current election system gave both of these candidates a fair chance.