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Block emphasizes 12 years of Duke experience in YT race

Graduate Young Trustee finalist Jeremy Block, a seventh year graduate student, said his extensive involvement at Duke prepares him well to be Young Trustee.
Graduate Young Trustee finalist Jeremy Block, a seventh year graduate student, said his extensive involvement at Duke prepares him well to be Young Trustee.

In 12 years at Duke, Jeremy Block has had midnight burritos with Jason Williams at Cosmic Cantina, played roller-skate hockey where Belltower Residence Hall now stands and become well-versed in many facets of Duke.

Block, one of three finalists for graduate Young Trustee, is a seventh-year graduate student. He graduates this Spring with a Ph.D. in biochemistry and a master’s in public policy. Block was a student in the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, graduating in 2003 with majors in chemistry and biology and a minor in religion. He hopes to maintain his ties with Duke and continue to serve the institution.

“I have grown to truly love this University through spending a dozen years of my adulthood here,” Block said. “I can bring an informed, fresh perspective that is unique due to the length and depth of my knowledge of Duke.”

As a graduate student, Block co-chaired the Biological Sciences Graduate Student Symposium. He also interviewed undergraduate applicants and chaired the Strategic Planning Committee of the Graduate and Professional Student Council. Block said that as chair, he worked to improve campus transportation.

“I was impressed by his focus on Duke and what is in the institution’s best interest, particularly looking at issues from a student’s perspective,” said Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek, who has worked with Block on several committees and projects. “He was very thorough, persistent and thoughtful, and at the same time he was willing to listen to other people’s opinions and perspectives.”

As an undergraduate, Block ran for the cross country and track teams all four years and helped lead Duke to its 2000 ACC cross country title. He also served on the Duke University Access Committee, which sought to help Duke meet Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility standards.

Block added that he has a passion to improve accessibility and safety on campus. He said he has witnessed too much violence against Duke students, such as the 2008 murder of Abhijit Mahato, a second-year Ph.D. candidate in the Pratt School of Engineering.

 Block said he strives to create a healthier campus environment where all students can reach their fullest potential. He said being visually impaired has helped him realize Duke’s potential to assist students with disabilities.

Block said one of the most meaningful experiences he has had at Duke was his effort to update the war memorial next to the Chapel. He and an undergraduate student compared the alumni database and a Pentagon database to find out which Duke alumni have died in service. In October, U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs Eric Shinseki, Grad ’76, came to rededicate the war memorial.

“I was shocked to see some people I knew from undergraduate on the list,” Block said. “Then I saw a couple who came back to Duke to honor their son. It was their first time visiting in 20 years.”

Block said his experience and love for the University, combined with his fiscal knowledge, will help him be an effective Young Trustee in the current economic climate. He said he does not want to cut academic or extracurricular opportunities for students, but also aims to help Duke balance its budget.

“He knows what the Duke students are about and knows the school backwards and forwards,” said senior Swathi Padmanabhan, who had Block as a teaching assistant. “His perspective from being an undergraduate and graduate student will make him a good Board member. Plus, he really cares about this school.”

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