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Keohane speaks to DSG, GPSC

For the first time ever, President Nan Keohane met with the General Assemblies of both Duke Student Government and the Graduate and Professional Student Council last night. Keohane addressed the current strengths and weaknesses of the University as well as plans for the future.

"The most important thing is to have you here together," she said. "It is truly a historic moment."

She began by commending DSG on its recent work to coordinate legislative projects by committees and GPSC members for their efforts on the campout this coming weekend, citing the emphasis on community service and inclusion of the women's basketball team in the events.

Keohane addressed the same four questions that the University's senior administrators addressed at a retreat last summer: the criteria used to measure the University's success, signature elements, weaknesses and where members of the Duke community would like Duke to be in 10 years.

"We recognize that rankings are important, but we realize that they are there so magazines can sell copies," Keohane said. "We were recently ranked fourth by U.S. News and World Report, but we must ask how much change has occurred."

She emphasized the strength of some programs, including the School of Medicine and the Fuqua School of Business, while noting the challenges faced by others, such as the School of Law and the Pratt School of Engineering. Keohane commended the University's ability to recruit and keep faculty but also noted the absence of a Nobel laureate on the faculty.

Among the University's signature elements, Keohane mentioned the beauty of the campus, the basketball program, the Medical Center, the all-freshman East Campus and the "tradition of academic freedom."

Other difficulties she addressed were the small sizes of some programs--ultimately preventing them from gaining national prestige--and the fact that the University has a Christian association, despite being "multifaceted and multi-peopled."

As the University works to reconcile some of these short-term issues, Keohane said over the next 10 years she would like to see the University take advantage of its diversity as well as blend the teaching and researching worlds.

"At the end of the day, there are only 24 hours," she said. "We would like to have what the research faculty members do be brought into the classroom, but we have to find a time when [students and faculty] are both awake. Our overriding goal is to be among the small number of institutions that try to define what higher education will be in America."

Among Keohane's long and short-term goals, she mentioned establishing better systems of accountability for managers, conducting reviews of tenured faculty, addressing the Steering Committee's findings on women at the University, increasing her familiarity with Medical Center leaders and using University-developed technology to improve the quality of life. After Keohane's speech, Students asked her questions ranging from parking and residential card access to child care and the University's recent top diversity ranking.

"These were not new issues for us," said Rob Saunders, a third-year physics graduate student and GPSC president. "What is helpful to hear now is they are still part of the University's plan."

DSG President Joshua Jean-Baptiste was equally pleased with the meeting.

"Nan talked about how she wanted Duke to maintain its vibrant culture," said Jean-Baptiste, a senior. "DSG and [DSG Vice President for Student Affairs] Troy Clair both have plans to look at the social scene."

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