University leaders discussed solutions that could improve safety on Central Campus this Spring at Thursday's Academic Council meeting.

In an executive session, the Academic Council heard from Vice President of Administration Kyle Cavanaugh, who outlined some of the Duke University Police Department’s plans regarding campus security. Cavanaugh explained that updates will likely include increased fencing, further restriction of vehicle access points and the rollout of a new emergency section in the DukeMobile application designed to support students and staff walking alone on campus.

“One of the ongoing issues that we always struggle with is access to the campus,” Cavanaugh said. “We are a very, very porous campus especially on Central Campus. We’re looking at how can we limit access and do that in a way where we’re not infringing on anything in the community but also making it safer.”

Cavanaugh explained that DUPD plans to update the emergency section of the DukeMobile app so that students and staff will be able to use geolocation to allow friends and loved ones to track their location with a blue dot as they walk home. It would also allow users to contact campus police with their geolocation if they diverge from the path.

He noted that there have already been increased decorative fences on Erwin Road and that the University plans to expand the fencing to minimize the porousness of Central Campus.

Cavanaugh highlighted some of the increased security measures that have taken place since the start of the academic year.

DUPD has deployed 700 surveillance cameras throughout campus to serve as a deterrent to crime. In August, Duke police were equipped with body cameras. The University also installed lighting in the tunnel near Central Campus as Erwin Road turns into Ninth Street, he added.

In addition, the University doubled the security presence on Central Campus beginning in September after two armed robberies occurred on Central July 24 and September 2.

Cavanaugh noted that Duke’s emphasis on increasing security is mirrored by many universities around the country due to recent upticks in gun violence and anonymous threats, but that the University is doing its best to be prepared in case of such an attack.

In November, the University of Chicago closed its campus after receiving an anonymous threat of gun violence. Cavanaugh explained that Duke received an anonymous threat last Fall, but campus and federal security did not have a reason to believe it was a legitimate threat because it originated from Mexico. 

“The amount of mass shootings across the nation is growing rather significantly,” Cavanaugh said. “After every one of these we are saying what, if anything, can we do in terms of both mitigating that from happening or, if it does happen, what are the ways we can limit the impact?"”

In other business:

Patrick Casey, James B. Duke professor of pharmacology and cancer biology and professor of biochemistry, presented a proposal for joint sponsorship of the Ph.D. in integrated biology and medicine, a joint degree program with the Duke-NUS Medical School. The Council will vote on the proposal at its February meeting.

Merlise Clyde, professor of statistical science and chair of the faculty compensation committee, sought feedback for the committee's plans to develop an analysis of compensation for non-tenure-track faculty. In the coming year, the committee also plans to do a longitudinal study of faculty compensation to assess equity.

Caroline Bruzelius, Anne M. Cogan professor of art, art history and visual studies, and Victoria Szabo, associate research professor of art, art history, and visual studies, presented a proposal to rename the master's of arts in historical and cultural visualization as the master's of arts in digital art history/computational media.