The following are highlights from the Board of Trustees' committee meetings Dec. 9.

From staff reports

Business and Finance: Members of the Business and Finance Committee sent planners back to the drawing board on financing for renovations to Hanes Annex.

Reviewing a proposal to turn the former residence hall into office space, members of the committee asked for more details on how much money the University would save by moving offices currently housed in off-campus lease space into Hanes Annex.

Dick Siemer, chief of staff for administrative services, presented the plan to invest $1.4 million for renovations.

Trustee Herman Postma questioned whether any renovations were needed. "Another minimalist approach is, `If it's good enough for students, it's good enough for office space, and all we have to do is pay moving costs,'" Postma said.

The committee chose to delay a vote on the financing plans for the renovations until the next Executive Committee meeting of the board, where committee chair Roy Bostock will review additional financial information.

The committee also discussed the impact of rising interest rates on loan payments. Planners anticipate about $500,000 in additional costs to finance interest on loans to pay for the Levine Science Research Center.

Academic Affairs: Internationalization was the buzzword at Friday's Academic Affairs committee meeting.

Peter Lange, vice provost for academic and international affairs, said the University needs to "get international content into everything we do."

"To be honest with you, Duke suffers from a reputation gap... we're not known [abroad]," he said.

Pamela Gann, dean of the Law School, said that a larger student body would be necessary if the University were to join the table of globally elite universities.

Increasing opportunities for study abroad for science and engineering students and increasing the number of foreign undergraduates in the student body were two major suggestions regarding the undergraduate population.

Establishing more faculty exchange programs and foreign language instruction were also major concerns in the University's internationalization efforts.

Buildings and Grounds: The Buildings and Grounds Committee approved a proposal to convert Hanes Annex into office space.

The renovations would include installation of an elevator, refurbishing of bathrooms and windows, structural repair and other modifications.

Currently, part of the Annex is being used to house IRS auditors, while the bulk of the building is "mothballed" and closed off, said University architect John Pearce.

The committee also approved the last set of deferred maintenance repairs on East Campus. Pegram and Alspaugh dormitories will be rewired and will have hazardous materials such as asbestos and lead-based paint removed. The renovations will cost $4.4 million.

Institutional Advancement: The Institutional Advancement Committee discussed the impact that the recent Republican sweep of Congress will have on the University and higher education nationwide.

John Burness, senior vice president for public affairs, relayed both "good news and bad news" to the committee. The good news, he said, was that the new GOP majority will probably translate into "significant potential for regulatory relief," from tenure decisions to academic programming. On the research side, potentially significant increases in the Department of Defense budget could mean increased grants for science and engineering departments.

The bad news is that the Republicans' likely $600 billion-deficit-reduction package could impinge upon financial aid and other government grants to higher education, Burness said.

In other money-related business, pledges for the Levine Science Research Center are progressing well, said John Piva, senior vice president for alumni and development. Meanwhile, payments are progressing more slowly, he said. Piva did add that he hoped to have another $10 million by the close of this fiscal year. The LSRC is still the University's top fund-raising priority and will likely be paid for in another two years, which is exactly according to schedule, Piva said.

Student Affairs: The Panhellenic Council received an institutional pledge from the members of the Student Affairs Committee to further meet their needs for space on campus.

In a presentation to the committee, Panhel asked that the University provide block housing options to sorority sisters who wished to live together in the newly approved residential plan. The plan passed Saturday provides for sorority block housing.

Panhel also asked for a Panhellenic Center which would provide each sorority, including historically black sororities, with its own meeting, office and storage space.

"Sororities are the only student group that needs to pay for its own office space," said Trinity senior Wendy Marantz, president of the Panhellenic Council.

The sororities rent space from the University at the cost of about $1,400 per sorority, per academic year.

The trustees voted unanimously to move forward with an institutional commitment to meet sororities' needs.

"We are beyond thrilled," Marantz said. "This was a movement by the trustees to acknowledge a gross gender inequity that has been left unremedied for 35 years." The last time sororities had their own building was in 1959, when the building was condemned, Marantz said. Since then, architectural plans for a sorority space have been drawn up and lost twice.