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Trustees discuss innovation and student engagement at first meeting of 2015-16

<p>Trustees heard presentations about innovation and entrepreneurship and student engagement at the Washington Duke Inn.</p>

Trustees heard presentations about innovation and entrepreneurship and student engagement at the Washington Duke Inn.

The Board of Trustees approved a new analytical political economy master's degree and discussed innovation and entrepreneurship and undergraduate engagement at its first meeting of the academic year Saturday.

Saturday's meeting at the Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club was the first for the Board's eight new members, including NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and ValueAct Capital CEO Jeff Ubben. All of the new Trustees were present except for Apple CEO Tim Cook, who was unable to attend, said President Richard Brodhead.

"I’ll always remember this meeting in terms of the new trustees. This is probably the largest group of [new] trustees we’ve ever had," he said. "And they just plunged right in. They’ve been completely great—the young trustees I certainly include when I say that."

The new master's degree that was approved will be a collaboration between the departments of political science and economics, and was approved by the Academic Council and other university committees last Spring. The economics department does not plan to increase its number of master's students—if the new program draws high interest, current numbers will be maintained by reducing the size of other programs, according to a press release.

Although the approval of the new master's degree was the main action item at Saturday's meeting, the two items that took up the most time were discussing student engagement and innovation and entrepreneurship, explained Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations.

Among the topics of conversation related to innovation were the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative, licensing and ventures and how faculty translate their research to the outside world, Schoenfeld said. Housing, social relations on campus, DukeEngage and connections between academic programs were discussed during the conversation about student engagement.

Several administrators spoke to the Trustees about the topics, including Provost Sally Kornbluth; Dr. A. Eugene Washington, chancellor for health affairs; Eric Toone, vice provost and director of the I&E Initiative; Vice Provost for Research Larry Carin; Steve Nowicki, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education; Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs; Director of DukeEngage Eric Mlyn; and Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Christoph Guttentag.

"With the innovation and entrepreneurship, there wasn't an action item, but that's an effort the trustees have always been interested in," Brodhead said. "So for them to hear about the success of the certificate program, for them to hear about the success of [the Duke Angel Network], for them to get a glimpse of the bullpen space downtown—those were pretty thrilling for people."

Saturday's meeting also featured a report on Duke's financial performance during the most recent fiscal year that ended June 30, 2015, which noted that the University's endowment grew from $7 billion to a record-high $7.3 billion after another record-setting year in private donations.