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'Bold initiatives that benefit humankind': Task forces want to improve science and engage alumni

<p>The Karsh Alumni and Visitor’s Center is set to open in the summer of 2019.</p>

The Karsh Alumni and Visitor’s Center is set to open in the summer of 2019.

At last year’s May Board of Trustees meeting, the Trustees created four strategic task forces at the behest of President Vincent Price. Those task forces were designed to review certain aspects of the Duke experience and deliver reports on their findings and recommendations. They were composed of faculty, administration, Trustees and students.

After a year, the task forces sent in their reports to the Trustees, who along with the administration will determine how to take the task force reports and turn them into policy that impacts the Duke community. Roughly a month after this year’s May meeting, Richard Riddell, senior vice president and secretary to the Board, released one-page executive summaries of each report. 

Here, The Chronicle looks over the Advancing Duke Science and Technology task force and Activating the Global Network task force. 

Read about the other task forces: Next Generation Living and Learning Experience and Future of Central Campus.

Advancing Duke Science and Technology  

The two Board of Trustees task forces emphasized the importance of making alumni engagement a “core function” of the University and reinforcing Duke’s scientific prowess, respectively.

Despite the University’s talent recruitment and investment in the sciences, the Advancing Duke Science and Technology Task Force noted that several peer universities have recently climbed in the rankings for scientific departments. 

“The broad, fast-moving areas of science and technology are affording unprecedented opportunities to advance bold initiatives that benefit humankind everywhere,” the executive summary states.

The task force recommended that Duke “pursue a range of approaches to recruiting and retaining top faculty,” from focusing on experts in specific topics to hiring well-known scholars. Duke will also prepare for fundraising in science and technology and target three areas—artificial intelligence and health, materials science and biological resistance—for growth.

The executive summary says that these recommendations are already being implemented.

Activating the Global Network

The Activating the Global Network Strategic Task Force focused on streamlining Duke’s relationship with its alumni. The long-term goals in the task force’s executive report described a closely integrated University and alumni network, where “a transformational student experience sets the stage for a lifetime of engagement with the University.”

The task force put together a number of recommendations, including communicating long-range plans with current administrative leaders. This includes incorporating alumni into other task forces and initiatives, continuing pilot programs and considering how to involve all those affiliated with the University in developing a plan.

Not mentioned in the report was the Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center, which is slated to open this summer. The center will feature the Duke Alumni Association’s office and offer meeting spaces for visitors and graduates.