The University announced a major gift to athletics on the eve of the latest Board of Trustees meeting.

Roy and Merilee Bostock, who graduated from Duke in 1962, committed to a $5 million gift to fund facilities upgrades for Duke Athletics. The announcement comes as the Trustees are convening to discuss a tuition increase and the promotion of two areas of study: international comparative studies and neurology. The Trustees will also spend time in an interactive seminar “retreat” on the topic of the value of higher education.

Bostock came to Duke on a football scholarship and earned varsity letters in both football and baseball. He also graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in English.

“I chose Duke because I thought it had the right balance between academics and athletics... I wanted to play Division I football and still have a very strong academic experience,” he said. “I look on Duke Athletics and particularly Duke football as giving me a huge opportunity to succeed going forward.”

The gift will go into a $100 million fund for improvements to athletic facilities, particularly Wallace Wade Stadium and Cameron Indoor Stadium. President Richard Brodhead asked Bostock to lead this initiative as part of the $3.25 billion Duke Forward capital campaign, Bostock noted, adding that the athletics fund has gathered commitments totalling nearly a third of that so far. Both Trustee David Rubenstein, Trinity ’70, and Dr. Steven Scott and his wife Rebecca have committed $10 million to the athletics facilities campaign.

The upgrades will focus on the two revenue sports, men’s basketball and football, with the goal of making Duke more competitive in attracting recruits and fans, Bostock said. By optimizing these facilities, Duke will be better able to “pay the bills” for other sports.

“Wallace Wade is essentially the same facility I played in almost 50 years ago,” he said. “In order to compete in Division I athletics today, you have got to have great facilities.”

As a student, Bostock had to balance academics with practice for two sports. The experience as a scholar-athlete taught him a lot about personal discipline, he said.

“As a freshman, all I did was play football, played baseball and studied in Perkins Library,” Bostock said. “I studied every night of the week, even Saturday. It paid off.”

Bostock’s previous multimillion dollar donation went to the libraries in 2003, contributing to the creation of Bostock Library.

“Our first major gift went to the libraries, and our second is going to athletics, and after this, we’ll take a breather,” he said.

Bostock was previously a member of the Board, although the announcement of the gift was not timed in connection with this weekend’s meeting, said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations. The Board will, however, hear updates on the Duke Forward campaign from administrators and campaign chairs.

Board Chair Richard Wagoner, Trinity ’75, noted that Bostock has a long history of supporting Duke.

“He’s a great example of a guy who has benefitted from his Duke experience and has been really giving back to Duke in the hope that today’s students will benefit as he did,” Wagoner said.

The Board is expected to approve new tuition rates for the coming academic year. The members are also expected to upgrade the international comparative studies major into a program, which will enable ICS to hire its own faculty, rather than relying on faculty appointments in other departments. This upgrade was approved by the Arts and Sciences Council in November.

A similar upgrade is expected to pass for the neurology division of the School of Medicine, which will become a full-fledged department if approved. This move would give the 50-member division greater capacity for recruiting new faculty and securing research funding, Wagoner said.

After dealing with this business, the Board will engage in its annual February retreat, in which the Trustees participate in a seminar-style discussion on a topic relevant to the future of the University. The 2012 retreat looked at the cost of higher education, and this year, it will examine the value of higher education, Wagoner noted.

“This is a chance to really sit back and think about the future,” he said. “I hope we come out with a clearer roadmap of the kinds of issues we’ll be addressing over the next year.”

The seminar will feature a presentation by Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera, the massively open online course platform. Several Duke professors have attracted thousands of students for their Coursera courses, and teachers have begun using the technology in classes on campus in a “flipped classroom” model.

The retreat will also include William Boulding, dean of the Fuqua School of Business, and David Levi, dean of the School of Law, who will discuss the changing nature of professional schools.

“Legal education and business education are probably going through as much of a revolution as undergraduate education,” Schoenfeld said. “The Board wants to be aware of what the issues are and how they affect the programs at Duke, and how programs at Duke are innovating to address the challenges they will face in the marketplace.”