If elected Young Trustee, Matt Davis strives to enable students to benefit from their time at Duke even more than he has.
Former president of Wayne Manor and a member of The Duke Student Publishing Company Board of Directors, Davis believes that his classroom, boardroom and organizational experiences prepare him to bring a unique perspective and impact to Board of Trustees meetings.
“I’ve gotten a lot from Duke. It’s been a place where I’ve been presented with a lot of opportunities to grow. I want to make sure that those opportunities are present and available to students who follow after I leave,” Davis said.
The senior will graduate with a major in biomedical engineering and a minor in economics, and said his experiences as an engineer would give him a perspective on the Board. Davis pointed out that although about 20 percent of Duke undergraduates are engineers, only one out of the current 36 board members holds an engineering degree.
But Davis, who has accepted a job at Bain & Company after graduation, also has experience familiar to the Trustees—time spent actively participating in boardroom discussions and decisions. As the undergraduate representative on the DSPC Board of Directors, which publishes The Chronicle, Davis said he has gained experience effectively communicating with others, managing budgets and leading strategic planning sessions in a boardroom setting—all skills he believes would serve him well if elected.
Senior Mitch Heath, a fellow member of Wayne Manor, said Davis’ practical reasoning and communication successful in the boardroom.
“[Davis] can win anyone over with a practical argument.... For the Young Trustee position, it’s really important to have a balance of humility and confidence and I think that’s something he’s really good at,” Heath said. “He’ll be able to challenge Board members without stepping on their toes or losing credibility.”
Davis cited his leadership experience in the selective living group Wayne Manor as the facet of Duke in which he has made his greatest contributions. Through his time serving as president, along with other positions, Davis said he has gained experience in balancing the group’s budget, instituting a new executive structure and delegating responsibility efficiently.
As Young Trustee, Davis said he hopes to translate his array of experiences into serving the University’s short-term goals—like helping to balance Duke’s finances—as well as its visionary plans.
In the long-term, Davis hopes to encourage the University to follow through on its initiatives to create a more global experience for students.
“We need to make sure that students are actually taking these experiences back to the University and that creating a global experience isn’t just a buzzword but something that affects students during their time here... and also something that attracts students to Duke,” Davis said.
Davis said he also hopes to make New Campus a priority in which to invest capital so that it can become “a true bridge between East and West, not just a consolation prize for those who have lost the housing lottery,” an issue he believes has been pushed aside by the administration.
“[Making New Campus a priority] is a way that we can really affect Duke and Durham,” Davis said. “To do that, we need to increase the services and opportunities that are there.”
Dale Bass, an associate research professor of biomedical engineering who has served as Davis’ research adviser for four semesters and one summer, praised Davis for his intellect and ability to research, but also for his character. Davis’ research focuses on biomechanics involving pediatric skull tissue.
“I think he’s just a fine young man,” Bass said. “He’s very driven and he has a great deal of character. He’s honest and he’s forthright.... That, more than being bright and more than being a great researcher, will make him a great Young Trustee.”
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