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Trustees approve new degrees and architect for student health center

The Board of Trustees approved six degree programs and were updated on campus renovations at its meeting this weekend.

In addition to approving five new master's degrees and a Ph.D. program, the Board approved an architect for a Student Health and Wellness Center and was updated on renovations to athletic and academic facilities.

The five new master's degrees are bioethics and science policy; historical and cultural visualization; statistical science; medical physics and economics and computation. The medical physics degree is the third graduate degree approved for Duke Kunshan University which also offers management studies and global health. The Trustees also approved a Ph.D. program in biostatistics.

“The new degree programs correspond to an emerging sense of the new needs and equipment that people want to have,” President Richard Brodhead said.

The programs are required to go through multiple rounds of approval and academic vetting before being brought to the Board of Trustess. The Academic Council is one of the bodies that approved the degrees prior to the meeting.

Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, noted the interdisciplinary nature of many of the degree programs.

“It represents the disciplines catching up—different ones in different ways. For example, there’s one linking economics and computer science,” Brodhead said. “In a way, if you look at these degrees, they are a map of new connections and new kinds of cross-training.”

The Trustees were also updated on plans for the new Student Health and Wellness Center and approved the architect for the project. Duda/Paine Architects, a Durham firm, was selected to design the building, wrote Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta, in an email Saturday.

The next steps in the process is confirming the location and then design of the building. An initial location suggestion was next to Rubenstein Hall, but the Board requested that additional sites be considered, said Sue Wasiolek, assistant vice president for student affairs and dean of students.

She added that the building would likely open at the end of 2016 or beginning of 2017. The current spaces that house Student Health, Counseling and Psychological Services and the Duke Student Wellness Center will likely be repurposed, and the operations of the health and wellness agencies may expand.

"There is some expectation for growth," Wasiolek said. "The student body has grown a bit, especially with the growing number of master's programs."

The new space is intended to provide needed communal space for activities including workshops, group therapy sessions, trainings such as Party Monitor Training and staff meetings, Wasiolek said.

Director of Athletics Kevin White and head football coach David Cutcliffe presented on athletics via Skype from Charlotte, N.C. The Board heard about the ongoing upgrades to athletic facilities including Wallace Wade Stadium, Cameron Indoor Stadium and a new building alongside the Murray Building for Olympic sports training.

Provost Peter Lange gave a review of where the University is today in comparison to when he began as provost 15 years ago. Lange will step down from his post in June at the end of his third term.

Deborah Jakubs, Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and vice provost for library affairs, also presented to the Board on the library system. She gave an overview of library usage, how the system stacks up to those at other research university and the ongoing renovations. The libraries’ relationship with adopting new technological innovations in areas such as cataloging, scholarly communications and copyright were a focus of the conversation.

"The libraries are the busiest place on campus—the center of intellectual exploration and discovery and a catalyst for the creation of new scholarship, as well as a major technology center," Jakubs wrote in an email Saturday. "The traditional image of a library as a passive repository of books just doesn’t fit us. We very much reflect, too, the distinctiveness of Duke—a Duke culture that invites and promotes collaboration and innovation."

The library system is unique in that it connects to many facets of the University including student life, athletics and traditional academic experiences, Schoenfeld said. This was the first time that the Board of Trustees has ever been updated on the library system, he noted.

In addition, the Trustees participated in focus group sessions with students about a number of topics including academics, life on campus, goals and aspirations and socioeconomic diversity, Schoenfeld added.

“Conversations about Duke that didn’t involve dining, housing or Greek life, which I think some people think are the only things that are talked about at Board meetings,” he said.

Updated: This article has been updated to include the name of the architecture firm chosen to design the new Student Health and Wellness Center.