The Board of Trustees primarily focused their attention this weekend on long-term strategic goals of the University rather than major action items, said Board Chair Richard Wagoner, Trinity ’75.

The Board received a presentation from Provost Peter Lange on the state of the University’s faculty. The presentation provided a 10-year overview of the growth of the University as a research institution and the changing makeup of the faculty. Other updates included reviews of athletics and the School of Nursing.

“[Lange] presented very interesting metrics on faculty quality, and we also talked about the composition of the faculty,” Wagoner said. “It’s what we talked about 12 years ago, and we’re actually following through on that.”

Duke performs very well on major indicators of faculty quality, ranking as the fourth most research-productive university in the country, Lange said. The University’s reputation reflects a “steep uptick” in the level of research expenditures. It ranked fifth nationally in research expenditures with $983 million spent on research in 2010. Endowed professorships across many departments have contributed to the quality of faculty, Lange added. The ongoing capital campaign, Duke Forward, aims to raise $250 million for more than 100 new endowed faculty chairs.

In terms of demographics, the faculty has shifted to older, tenured professors, a trend that the University should counterbalance by hiring younger professors, who tend to be paid less, as they actively pursue their research tracks, Lange said. The faculty review, however, refers to the broad outlook of the University, and individual departments will evaluate their needs as they hire new members.

The faculty’s racial and gender composition has become more diverse, Lange noted. The University has substantially increased the number of black and female faculty, but women are still significantly underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“We always focus on background and diversity,” Lange said. “Unfortunately, for women in the STEM fields, those numbers are not rising as fast at Duke or elsewhere.”

Wagoner noted that the Board wants to maintain active communication with the faculty. He presented to the Academic Council at its meeting Thursday, becoming the first chair to do so.

Director of Athletics Kevin White also presented a strategic overview of Duke athletics. His presentation included information about the department’s finances, compliance with NCAA regulations and the academic performance of athletes. Duke maintains rigorous practices to ensure high academic performance among student athletes, White wrote in an email Sunday. Administrators must “stay nervous” and constantly monitor the balance of athletics and academics to avoid scandals like those at other programs such at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“We came away very impressed with the amount of resources Duke puts in [academics among athletes], along with learning more about the potential risks and how we can manage those,” Wagoner said. “It’s about who you hire.”

White added that Duke Forward will help fund major facilities improvements, including renovations to Wallace Wade Stadium, Cameron Indoor Stadium and a new track and field stadium. Athletics, which aims to raise $250 million through Duke Forward, has allocated $100 million for these facility improvements. A $10 million gift in October will create a new building to house a ticket office, department offices and additional training facilities.

White also gave the Trustees a better frame of reference on conference realignment, Wagoner said, following the departure of the University of Maryland from the ACC and the addition of the University of Louisville. President Richard Brodhead said Duke was committed to staying in the ACC in an interview last week.

The Board also heard a detailed presentation about Duke’s School of Nursing, which has expanded its programs in the last decade and recently broke ground on a $20.2 million building addition in October. Catherine Gilliss, dean of the School of Nursing and Helene Fuld Health Trust professor of nursing, noted the growth of the school along with its current operations. The nursing school rose from 15th place in the U.S. News and World Report Rankings in 2007 to seventh place this year.

She also wants to pursue greater collaboration with the other schools and initiatives at the University, Michael Evans, director of communications for the school, said last week.

In other business

The Board approved a resolution of tribute honoring Dr. Robert Lefkowitz, James B. Duke professor of medicine. Lefkowitz was named one of two Nobel Prize winners in chemistry in October for his research in cell receptors.

The Trustees greenlighted construction of a chilled water project, estimated to cost $10 million, that will cool buildings on East Campus.