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Board of Trustees plans to spend year studying how to better commercialize research

<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. 

At its first meeting of the 2019-20 academic year, the Board of Trustees kicked off what will be the defining theme of the year—how to better commercialize Duke's research efforts.

The trustees will conduct a review of Duke's "research, translation and commercialization efforts" throughout the year, according to a news release. Future quarterly meetings will focus on different aspects of the issue, from engagement with the Durham community to partnerships with regional universities.

“We’re thinking deeply about the research work we conduct on campus and how that work is commercialized and how it supports the larger economy of the Triangle,” President Vincent Price said after the meeting.

He said that at the meeting, administrators like Vice President for Research Larry Carin and Mary Klotman, dean of the school of medicine, talked with the trustees about the research portfolio across the University. Faculty who have started their own companies spoke on one panel, Price noted, and another panel focused on what Duke’s peers are doing with research translation.

Jack Bovender, chair of the Board of Trustees, added that two consultants from McKinsey and Company offered their input on what peer institutions were doing and how the research commercialization landscape looked as a whole.

“The intention is to spend the year studying, then we will go into a mode where we’re attempting to determine the right strategic and tactical decisions,” Price said.

The Board also discussed Duke's endowment, which saw a 6.9% annual return and is now valued at a record-high of $8.6 billion, as of June 30, 2019.

Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions, spoke to the trustees about current admissions practices in the wake of the Varsity Blues admissions scandal. Bovender said that Guttentag went over safeguards he has put in place to prevent a similar scandal at Duke, such as his close liaison with the alumni office and good relations with the athletic department.

“I know as trustees we came out of that feeling very good about how proactive Christoph and his staff have been in safeguarding this because the reputational risk to the school is very very great,” Bovender said. 

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