Starting tomorrow, undergraduate students will be tasked with selecting a new Young Trustee. The stated role of the Young Trustee is to serve as a steward of the University, a caretaker of the University’s long-term development and health. Beyond that, the Editorial Board sees the Young Trustee to be someone to whom students can voice concerns that may lie in the blind spots of other members of the Board of Trustees. Each candidate is extraordinarily qualified and has a lot to offer, but only one fully fits into our vision of the role.
Anya Ranganathan avails herself as detail-oriented and pragmatic. She displays a capacity to focus her energies on a particular issue, pursue it and produce solutions. Additionally, her prior experience on the Business and Finance Committee provides valuable experience. However, it seems that Ranganathan has failed to convert her access to the Board into visible results. Furthermore, her admirable attention to detail has the tendency to manifest itself in a perspective oriented toward finance and an inability to put forward and act on a broader mission of the University. For this reason, we chose not to endorse her.
Uzoma Ayogu lends a global perspective that melds nicely with Duke’s burgeoning global interests. His multicultural and multinational upbringing feeds into his entrepreneurial spirit to produce a desire to approach old problems in new ways. His novel solutions, unfortunately, lack depth or careful consideration. On a grander scale, the brunt of the work of Duke’s shift onto the global scale has already been done. With the University returning to campus concerns, Ayogu’s global perspective is rendered more inert. Additionally, his failure to grasp the importance of Duke’s primary role as a research institution led us to train our eyes elsewhere.
We also chose not to endorse Tanner Lockhead, the candidate with the most institutional knowledge. Lockhead, a Durham native, demonstrated the most coherent understanding of Duke's relation to Durham and has the most experience with university administration having served on the Institutional Advancement Committee through his role as the Duke Student Government’s Vice President of Durham and Regional Affairs. However, his long-term relationship with DSG and the Board turns out to be a double-edged sword. His institutional knowledge comes with an institutional mindset, and he risks creating and solidifying previously-existing institutions on campus without thinking outside the status quo.
Steven Soto is the candidate who promises the brightest future in the impact his tenure would have. Soto’s track record of identifying voids in the experiences of his fellow students and filling these gaps through his creation of the Project Arts pre-orientation program and his involvement in the development of the Washington Duke Scholars program for first-generation students is extremely promising. His view of the University is derived from the grassroots, from his own experiences and the experiences that were shared with him. He has less experience with the Board than other candidates, but his thoughtful, cohesive and engaged perspective on the University will allow him to learn, grow and flourish in his first year as a non-voting member of the Board. For his high ceiling and intimate Duke experience, the Editorial Board endorses Steven Soto for Young Trustee.
Helen Liu recused herself from the endorsement.
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