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David Rubenstein to leave Duke's Board of Trustees in 2017 after years of University contributions

The name David Rubenstein is recognized on campus for the Duke alum's sizable donations and leadership efforts.

Last month, Rubenstein, Trinity ‘70 and chair of the Board of Trustees, was elected to become a member of the Harvard Corporation, with the consent of Harvard’s Board of Overseers. He will step down as chair of Duke's Board on July 1, 2017 when his term ends. The Board will elect new officers—chair and vice chairs—at its May 2017 meeting prior to Rubenstein's departure, wrote Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, in an email. 

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By / Chronicle File Photo

David Rubenstein, chair of the Board of Trustees, will join the Harvard Corporation when he steps down from the Board in 2017. 

"I've been so impressed with his deep and sincere interest in all things Duke," said Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek. "Since he's been on the Board we've certainly been blessed with his wisdom and compassion and his love and loyalty to Duke."

In light of the change, The Chronicle looked back at Rubenstein’s major contributions to the University. 

2011: Rubenstein made renovations to Perkins Library possible with a $13.6 million gift, the largest ever made to Duke Libraries. The Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections Library was renamed the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library in his honor. 

Renovations included a new stack storage system for all special manuscripts along with fire protection and indoor air control systems. In addition, a number of new and updated facilities were added within the Rubenstein Library, including a special collections research room, a rare book classroom, a seminar room, an assembly space and a photography gallery.

“To help pay my way through Duke, I got a job to work at the library for $1.50 an hour,” Rubenstein said at the time. “The building in which I did it was the only library building at the time, and it was the existing special collections building. So I guess you could say I took an interest then."

2012: Rubenstein donated $10 million to Duke athletics, matching the largest gift ever given to the athletic department. The gift went toward the department's $250 million target in the Duke Forward fundraising campaign. This donation helped make possible renovations to Wallace Wade Stadium and the lobby at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The frontal addition to Cameron is currently under construction and will be called the Rubenstein Pavilion.

In addition, Rubenstein donated $15 million that year to help catalyze the Innovation and Entrepreneurship program, which aims to create new courses and opportunities for students interested in social entrepreneurship. 

2013: As part of the Duke Forward campaign, Rubenstein gave $10 million to the Sanford School of Public Policy. This was the largest donation ever given to Sanford, and it was used to fund graduate fellowships, undergraduate internships and establish a fund to increase the school’s engagement with public policy. 

Of Rubenstein’s contribution to Sanford, $6 million funded the David M. Rubenstein Fellowships for Master of Public Policy candidates. Another $2 million of his donation funded internships for undergraduate public policy students. The remaining $2 million created the David M. Rubenstein Dean’s Engagement and Impact Fund—an account that showcases the impact of work done by Sanford students and faculty.

In May 2013, the Board of Trustees elected Rubenstein as chair. At the time, he had been on the board for eight years and had spent two years serving as co-vice chair with Jack Bovender, Trinity ’67 and Graduate School ’69.

“I’ve always been indebted to Duke,” he said at the time. “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.”

2014: Rubenstein donated $1.9 million to expand programming and fund renovations of the Freeman Center for Jewish Life. Of the money, $1.5 million went toward funding new initiatives and staff positions, and $400,000 was used for renovations, which occurred over the summer of 2014.

2015: Rubenstein gave $25 million to help fund the construction of Duke's new $50-million, 71,000-square foot Arts Center. The new facility—which will be built on the corner of Anderson Street and Campus Drive across from the Nasher Museum of Art—is expected to be completed by Summer 2017 and is the largest single arts investment that Duke has ever made. The new center will include 12 multi-purpose studios, a 200-seat performance theater, a 100-seat film theater, a dance studio, space for video and radio production, a garden, a lounge, a library, a reception space, a painting and drawing studio, offices and classrooms.

Schoenfeld noted that Rubenstein has led the Board through important work on campus construction, global expansion, financial strength and leadership transition. 

"He has been a tireless and very effective advocate for Duke students, faculty and alumni, traveling around the world to speak and represent the university," he wrote.

Wasiolek added that Rubenstein's contributions have helped improve campus life.

"I think he has made an impact with each and every one whether it has been public policy or the library or the new arts building," she said.

Rubenstein will begin his new role at Harvard in July 2017. The Harvard Corporation, also known as the President and Fellows of Harvard College, is one of two governing boards at Harvard that performs the duties normally associated with a board of trustees.

At Harvard, Rubenstein currently serves as the inaugural chair of the Global Advisory Council, an advisory group of alumni and friends from 25 countries. He is also one of the co-chairs of the ongoing Harvard Campaign, a capital fundraising effort, and the chair of the fundraising campaign for Harvard's Kennedy School.

Rubenstein’s wife Alice Rogoff graduated from Harvard Business School in 1978, and two of the couple’s three children are graduates of Harvard College.

Rubenstein also serves on the boards of the Brookings Institution, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the University of Chicago. 

After graduating from Duke, Rubenstein earned his law degree from the University of Chicago in 1973 and entered private legal practice. He then served as chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments and was deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy in the Carter administration from 1977 to 1981. 

Following the White House he practiced law with the firm then known as Shaw, Pittman, Potts and Trowbridge before co-founding The Carlyle Group, a global alternative asset management fund that manages more than $170 billion in assets through 36 offices worldwide.

Wasiolek said that Rubenstein will be missed on the Board of Trustees.

"I certainly hope that he continues to be intimately involved in the workings and future of Duke," she said. "His heart and soul is so connected to this place. I can't imagine him not making some connection. It would be our loss."

Adam Beyer and Neelesh Moorthy contributed reporting


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