At their quarterly meeting in May, the Board of Trustees approved a $2.7 billion operating budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, three new graduate degree programs and changes to their governance structure.

The new budget marks an increase from last year’s budget of $2.6 billion. Included in the 2018-2019 operating budget is an anticipated 11 percent increase in institutional undergraduate financial aid. 

“We’ve been focused for a long time on increasing the financial aid,” said Jack Bovender, chair of the Board, after the meeting. “It’s an incredibly important part of our agenda, to keep this needs-blind application process and make sure that we provide the right kind of financial aid going forward, as generous as we can possibly do it.”

The increase in financial aid will bring Duke’s total support for it to $174 million this year, according to a press release. Last year, the Board increased financial aid to $157 million—then a nine percent increase from the previous year.  

Bovender said that the Board is focused on increasing Duke’s support for financial aid in order to give more people the opportunity to come to Duke.

“But there are financial restrictions on that,” he explained. “You have to balance it with all the other financial needs in the University.”

Bovender noted Duke is in competition with schools like Harvard, Yale and Princeton for the top students from all over the country, but that those schools are better endowed than Duke. That means they have more money to push toward financial aid, he said.

“We are chasing that, we’re investing in that,” he said. “But it is a priority and will remain a priority.” 

The operating budget includes the Schools of Medicine and Nursing but does not include clinical components of the Duke University Health System or Duke Hospital. 

In addition to increasing the investment in financial aid, this year’s operating budget will fund building and renovation projects across the University—including construction of the Pratt School of Engineering’s new building and the Hollows Residence Quadrangle. It will also fund the renovation of the residential Craven quadrangle. 

Aside from this year’s budget, the Board also approved three new graduate degree programs—two at Duke, and one at Duke Kunshan University. 

At Duke, the Board approved a new master’s and doctoral degree program for population health sciences that will be administered by the School of Medicine. The newly approved master’s in critical Asian humanities will be based in Duke’s department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

The electrical and computer engineering master’s program will be DKU’s fifth graduate program. Like the Kunshan school’s other graduate programs, students will split their time between China and Duke—in the new program, they will spend their first year at Kunshan and their second at the Pratt School of Engineering on Duke’s campus.  

“I think it is a hallmark of where we are starting to go, and it is an important initial statement,” he said.

Bovender referenced the new undergraduate program that will be starting at DKU in the fall, saying that there has been “great success” in the applications the new school saw in its first year. 

Following an internal review of its governance structure, the Board also decided to shift its structure to make better use of its time. The Board is consolidating its nine committees into seven and adding topic-based task forces into the mix. Going forward, every Trustee will serve on a committee and a task force instead of on two committees, explained Bovender.

The reformulated committees for this coming year are external engagement, graduate and professional education and research, resources, undergraduate education and governance. The executive committee and the audit, risk and compliance committees will remain in place, wrote Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, in an email. 

The four new task forces will be activating the global network, advancing Duke science and technology, looking into the future of Central Campus and considering the next generation living and learning experience.

In other business

According to the press release, the Board also re-elected its current leadership to one-year terms. Bovender will remain chair, and Laurene Sperling and William Hawkins will continue to serve as vice-chairs. 

Trustees spoke with President Vincent Price about his ongoing long-term planning process and Mary Klotman, dean of the Duke School of Medicine, on a review of the school’s strategic priorities. The Board also formally approved the degrees that were awarded at Sunday’s commencement.