During a weekend when President Richard Brodhead's lacrosse apology grabbed attention nationally and on campus, the University's Board of Trustees met and approved more than $120 million of construction at its quarterly meeting Friday.
The Board gave preliminary approval to two large construction projects, although the final go-ahead will require complete plans. As anticipated, a $20-million renovation of Few Quadrangle was approved. The trustees also green-lighted a renovation of the Gross Chemistry Laboratory as a "green" building to house the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, slated to cost $100 million.
"[The school's] new home will be a shining example of Duke's commitment to sustainability while also providing a state-of-the-art focal point for innovative and interdisciplinary education and research on the environment," Nicholas School Dean Bill Chameides said in a statement.
In a third project, the Board approved plans to construct a 1,900-space parking garage at the corner of Erwin Road and Research Drive. It will replace a 300-space lot on the same site.
In an interview Friday, Board Chair Robert Steel, Trinity '73, said Trustees were aware of student concerns about the Few Quad renovation preceding changes to Crowell and Craven quadrangles, but decided the Few project was worth doing first.
The Trustees also received a report from the Duke Management Company regarding the University endowment's performance in the fiscal year that ended June 30. DUMAC achieved a 25.6-percent return on investments.
The annual return, along with five-year returns of 17.5 percent, placed Duke's endowment third among the 25 largest U.S. university endowments, according to a University statement. The endowment's value now stands at $5.9 billion.
During the Board's open session Friday, the Trustees and administrators heard reports from Academic Council Chair Paula McClain, a professor of political science, Duke Student Government President Paul Slattery, a senior, and Graduate and Professional Student Council President Crystal Brown, a third-year law student.
McClain spoke about the history of faculty shared governance at Duke and reflected on the hundreds of faculty members involved in some aspect of governance. She also outlined some of the Academic Council's agenda for the year.
Slattery said Duke has an unusual opportunity to effect positive change. "I would like to start... with a common conviction: Duke isn't broken," he said. "It doesn't need to be fixed. It needs-like all universities-to be improved, and I can't imagine a room full of individuals better equipped to improve it."
He used his speech to highlight several issues at the top of his agenda for the year, including his initiative to reform undergraduate judicial policies, which was the focus of a memorandum he sent to the Trustees. Steel said the Board's Student Affairs Committee would begin the Trustees' response to the memo.
In her address, Brown focused on the growth in the personal, social, academic and professional spheres of graduate and professional student life.
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