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First Board of Trustees forum set for Wednesday

<p>Duke's Board of Trustees meetings are typically held at the Washington Duke Inn.&nbsp;</p>

Duke's Board of Trustees meetings are typically held at the Washington Duke Inn. 

As a part of its new transparency measures, Duke's Board of Trustees will host its first open forum this Wednesday.

Student and faculty members of committees have been invited to answer questions from the public, though no trustees are expected to be present, wrote Richard Riddell, senior vice president and secretary to the Board of Trustees, in an email. 

“The desired outcome is that members of the Duke community who have questions about the work of the Board get information that helps them better understand the work of the trustees,” he wrote. 

The forum will take place at 5 p.m. Wednesday in Rubenstein Library's Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room 153. The Chronicle will also livestream the event on Facebook. 

At their last meeting, the Trustees chose to rename the Carr Building on East Campus to the Classroom Building, dedicated the Chapel carillon to Sam Hammond and approved the naming of a Koch Family Scoreboard

The full summary of committee meetings from the latest gathering can be found on the Board's website. Here are some interesting takeaways from the summary:

Future of Central Campus

Central Campus will stop housing undergraduates after this semester, and the Future of Central Campus Strategic Task Force has been tasked with considering what should be done with the sixty acres of real estate at the heart of Duke.

According to the committee summary that was posted on the Board of Trustees' website, the idea of leasing or selling the land would "not generate meaningful income." The needs of a future science program would be better served within the University's "science precinct," the summary said.  

“The use of Central Campus does not necessarily have to create revenue, but it should also not be a cost drain,” the meeting summary stated.

Duke would want to maintain a "high degree of control in a development scenario," and "the university is in a sound financial position, with some pressure from our aspirations and strategic priorities."

The committee is bringing a "futurist" to its next meeting to consider mega-trends in higher education. 

"The use of Central Campus has to be strategic in value and its advancement of Duke University," the summary said.

'How to create a culture change at Duke'

The Undergraduate Education Committee met to discuss “achievement gaps” among demographic groups in Duke classes, especially in science and math fields. According to Duke’s data, “a much higher percentage of women than men drop out of their first or second STEM core course.”

The committee said that looking at socioeconomic differences between students was not the solution. Instead, it recommended focusing “more on individual student performance and the reasons for underperformance,” with a particular focus on improving large, introductory courses for the most popular majors, according to Valerie Ashby, dean of Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, and Ravi Bellamkonda, Vinik dean of the Pratt School of Engineering.

“The committee wants more discussion on how to create a culture change at Duke,” the meeting summary read.

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