Senior Gurdane Bhutani points to his history of advocating policy at Duke in his Young Trustee campaign.
Special to The Chronicle
Senior Gurdane Bhutani points to his history of advocating policy at Duke in his Young Trustee campaign.

Senior Gurdane Bhutani wants to build on previous campus policy successes as Young Trustee to promote innovation for Duke’s future.

Bhutani has served as executive vice president of Duke Student Government, DSG vice president for student affairs, chief financial officer for the Last Day of Classes celebration and president of the Council for Collaborative Action. He said that in these roles, he has lobbied successfully for several causes to help students.

During his time in DSG, Bhutani advocated for putting free testing for sexually transmitted infections back on the Duke Student Health Insurance Plan after Student Health began charging for the service in 2010. The University resumed free STI testing on the policy Spring 2012. He also lobbied for a continuation of the alcohol amnesty policy, which allows students to be taken to the hospital for alcohol-related problems without suffering disciplinary action.

Bhutani said his constant efforts to help the institution are indicative his love for Duke and his desire to support the University further after graduation by serving on the Board of Trustees.

“I’m incredibly grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had as a student at Duke. I’ve [experienced] an immense amount of personal growth,” Bhutani said. “I want to make sure that every student who comes here after me is afforded every single one of those opportunities. As Young Trustee, it would put me in the position to be able to do that in a very effective and big way.”

In his academic pursuits, Bhutani is an Angier B. Duke scholar, Computer Science and Public Policy double major and an Economics and Philosophy double minor. In his social life, he DJs and produces music.

Bhutani said he aims to set Duke apart from peer institutions through groundbreaking programs inside and outside of the classrooms. He cited as examples the University’s partnership with Coursera, an initiative to bring college courses online, and the flipped classroom model, which allows students to watch lectures outside of class and participate in small discussions in class.

“Duke needs to be an innovator of higher education,” Bhutani said. “No matter which top-10 university you go to, you’re going to get an outstanding education but for Duke to attract the best and the brightest students and faculty, it’s important that we are an innovator.”

Senior Michael Asher, a fellow A. B. Duke Scholar and friend, noted the originality of Bhutani’s ideas and said that he would bring this inventiveness to the position of Young Trustee.

“As Young Trustee, I’m confident he’ll bring new and fresh ideas to the table and will earn the respect of the Board by demonstrating his wealth of knowledge of University affairs,” Asher wrote in an email Monday.

Elizabeth Vigdor, associate professor of the practice of public policy, got to know Bhutani when he worked for several semesters as a TA for her class PUBPOL 55: Intro to Policy Analysis. She wrote in an email Monday that Bhutani’s past experience working with different components of the University equips him for the role of Young Trustee.

“[Gurdane] has experience working with the Duke administration as well as with other student leaders, so I think he has a good grasp of the challenges involved in changing University policy,” Vigdor said.

She also praised Bhutani’s ability to consider each angle of an issue before deciding on a solution.

“Gurdane is very intelligent, has excellent people skills and is adept at considering a wide range of issues from many different perspectives,” Vigdor said. “He will thoughtfully and analytically consider all the decisions with which the Board of Trustees is faced.”

Following graduation, Bhutani will take a six-month break to follow his musical interests, recording an album which will use the sounds of New York City as its inspiration. He then plans to work at Bain and Company as a management consultant. Regardless of the election’s outcome, Bhutani said he is grateful for his years at Duke.

“[Duke] truly changed my life in a very meaningful way,” Bhutani said. “It was such a great experience and I can’t even begin to express how appreciative I am for it.”