The independent news organization of Duke University

BOT journeys to Stanford for retreat

The Board of Trustees will convene in Palo Alto for its February meeting.

Stanford University will host the trustees for a retreat where Board members and senior administrators can talk about the ways in which each institution approaches different aspects of higher education. Topics will include undergraduate education, research, graduate education, professional education, athletics, alumni affairs, facilities and finances. The Board will also approve the tuition for the next academic year.

“It will be an opportunity for our trustees and leadership to interact with counterparts at Stanford,” said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations. “We have a lot in common.”

He noted that the two universities are similar in scale, the type of students each attracts and the strong school spirit around athletics.

The Duke trustees will also meet with alumni in the area, visit Google to talk about innovation and entrepreneurship and have a conversation with Apple, Inc. CEO Tim Cook, Fuqua ’88.

The Board has a retreat every February that tends to address broader, strategic topics such as the future of higher education, though it has not typically involved travel to another university, Schoenfeld said. Board Chair David Rubenstein, Trinity ’70, is personally paying for the retreat.

Stanford and Duke share similar histories, said Philip Taubman, Stanford's associate vice president for student affairs and board secretary. He noted their recent establishments in 1891 and 1838, respectively, compared to older institutions such as Harvard, Princeton and Yale universities.

“They are both very young institutions, but they’ve both thrived, even though they came later in the game,” he said. “They ascended in the ranks of top global universities. They’ve both been pretty agile in responding to the changing needs of our society and some to the global needs.”

He added that common ground for the universities include significant fundraising efforts such as Duke Forward, Division I athletics and proximity to entrepreneurship centers in Research Triangle Park and Silicon Valley.

The Council for Aid to Education found Stanford to be the university that raised the most money in 2013 with $931.57 million. Duke ranked 10th with $423.66 million raised. As of August 2013, Stanford had a $18.7 billion endowment, while Duke's endowment sits at $6 billion as of June 2013.

Taubman attributed Stanford’s success to effective planning, grassroots involvement and compelling educational ideas among faculty that serve as the base for fundraising campaigns.

There’s a reason to give money to Stanford because [donors] get excited about the academic programs here,” Taubman said. “Obviously it helps to be adjacent to Silicon Valley and the wealth in Silicon Valley. Stanford has benfefited from some of the companies that have grown into powerhouses that were started by faculty, students and graduate students.”

It is not uncommon for universities to host trustees from other institutions and share strategies and thought processes, Schoenfeld said. Although universities compete for students and faculty, he said collaboration is common on topics such as how to deal with new Title IX regulations, facilities or financial aid policies on a general level.

“A building that is built at Duke is not competing with a building that is being built somewhere else,” Schoenfeld said. “Whenever we undertake something major, we look at other universities.”

Duke hosted Yale’s board of trustees in 2005. Stanford hosted Williams College earlier this academic year, and the Stanford board has traveled to Yale in the past.

The Duke attendees left Wednesday for the three-day retreat.