This is the first in a three-part series profiling the finalists for the undergraduate young trustee position.
Although the several hundred students with rooms overlooking the West-Edens Link may disagree with her, young trustee finalist Sara Elrod is thrilled to hear the sounds of bulldozers and hammers each morning.
Since first arriving at Duke, Elrod, a senior, has been part of a core group of students that has been integral in the development and implication of the plans for the new dormitory.
The history and political science double major now hopes to use her experience with the WEL and many other facilities, buildings and grounds initiatives, if she becomes this year's undergraduate young trustee.
"I've always been pleasantly surprised at how open Duke is to student input on residential life and facilities issues," Elrod said.
"The administration listens to us. To be able to say that I played an active part in the creation of something like the WEL is really cool."
As a four-year member of Duke Student Government and a two-year student representative to the Board of Trustees' Buildings and Grounds Committee, Elrod has been involved in planning the new engineering building, the WEL, the Nasher Museum of Art and renovations at the Washington Duke Inn.
"Sara has always given a good word and been able to participate on very complex issues," said John Pearce, University architect. "She's a very good listener and has offered insightful observations on issues that are critical to students."
Elrod organized this year's From the Grounds Up, a DSG facilities and athletics committee initiative, in which student leaders and volunteers perform small beautification projects at various parts of the campus.
"She did an incredible job organizing this year's project," said Matt Slovik, DSG vice president for facilities and athletics. "And I've worked with her extensively on the Board committee this year. She interacts very well and very maturely with the administration."
The Edgewood, Ky., native acknowledged that most of her campus involvement has been limited to work with DSG and facilities committees but said she believes her experience has been valuable.
"I think working in DSG has given me insight into how things work at the University, and who to talk to about certain issues," Elrod said.
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Elrod has cited completing the Campaign for Duke, addressing the housing and programming space needs of students and realizing the long-term strategic plan as top goals for the University.
John Burness, senior vice president for public affairs and government relations, said he has often turned to Elrod to find out where student opinion is on many issues.
Elrod has worked as an assistant in Burness' office for several years.
"I've always found it interesting to hear Sara's perception of students' take on key issues, because frequently it is not what we were expecting," Burness said.
"I usually go to her to find out what the buzz is out there."
Burness also said Elrod would be a perfect fit for the young trustee position because of her maturity and ability to take on new tasks.
"She's very conscientious, very dedicated and a very quick study," he said.
The Young Trustee Nominating Committee and DSG Legislature will select the young trustee Feb. 6.