Neil Kondamuri emphasizes breadth of experience in Young Trustee raceNeil Kondamuri is emphasizing the breadth of his Duke experience.
A native of Munster, Indiana, Kondamuri’s involvement at Duke spans a wide range of organizations. Kondamuri, a public policy major and economics minor, was Duke Student Government's first-ever vice president for social culture last year. He additionally works as a wall monitor at Wilson Recreation Center, is a member of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity and sits on The Chronicle's editorial board as well as the Senior Gift Committee. In the past, Kondamuri has staffed the pre-orientation program ProjectBuild and participated in an independent DukeEngage in India.
“[President Terry Sanford] said that the Young Trustee should be a representative of the entire student body, and I agree and think that it is particularly dangerous if you have a candidate who understands one part of the school too well,” Kondamuri said. “I have a wide swath of experiences.”
During his time on DSG, Kondamuri lobbied for student tailgating prior to football games and what he describes on his website as improvements to campus alcohol policies. Kondamuri also served for over a year on the Undergraduate Education committee of the Board of Trustees.
If elected to the role of Young Trustee, Kondamuri said he would focus on issues surrounding financial aid.
“Ensuring domestic need-blind admissions is critical to Duke’s success in the future,” he said. “Campus has all of these ideas flowing around, and these ideas come from having people with a wealth of experiences and a diversity of backgrounds.”
Kondamuri also noted that Duke should not be afraid to move forward in the global space and should be at the “forefront of academic and co-curricular endeavors.”
He said he is running for Young Trustee because his favorite times at Duke have been when serving the school and its students.
“I love having students come up to me and tell me how much something I’ve done has improved their experience,” Kondamuri said.
Senior Nikki Sood, a friend of Kondamuri’s since freshman year, said she wants Kondamuri to be Young Trustee because he genuinely cares about the student body.
“He has been meeting with his peers non-stop trying to figure out how he can best represent the student body,” Sood said. “That is what I like best about him—he is not going to pretend that he has it all figured out, instead he will work towards coming up with the best, most practical solution.”
Catherine Admay, a visiting professor of public policy, said Kondamuri was one of the few students to grasp the concept of representing a viewpoint that is not his own in her International Law and Global Health FOCUS class.
“He just got it. To learn and to lead you have to be serious about thinking from points of view that are not your own,” she said. “[Kondamuri] will listen for other peoples’ logics including those that could—and are—easily dismissed and he will give them a fair chance.”
As part of his platform, Kondamuri has proposed having CoffeeTalks—30-minute conversations where the young trustee would sit down with five current students and discuss issues at the student level and how they might be discussed with the Board of Trustees.Kondamuri, a member of The Chronicle’s independent editorial board, took a leave of absence from the group during the campaign.