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DSG hears from provost on DukeEngage

Provost Peter Lange gave a presentation about DukeEngage-Duke's new $30-million program that will fund in-depth service opportunities for all interested undergraduates-at the Duke Student Government meeting Wednesday night.

Lange and Eric Mlyn, who will serve as the inaugural director of DukeEngage, outlined the groundbreaking program and addressed questions voiced by the DSG Senate.

DukeEngage will encourage international and domestic service-based opportunities similar to those offered by the Hart Leadership Program and the Robertson Scholars Program, but it will support more than 400 undergraduates, a much larger number than the current programs.

Lange said the scale of DukeEngage is unprecedented in higher education.

"The underlying effort behind DukeEngage is not a new thing at Duke," he said. "What we realize is that this is too small a group to give these opportunities to. Every student that wants to do this will be able to do it."

Students interested in partaking in a DukeEngage service opportunity for a summer or a semester can choose from three options: a program planned by Duke professors, a trip approved by the University but coordinated by an outside organization or an independently proposed and approved grant.

The amount of funding-provided by two $15-million donations from the Duke Endowment and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-will provide each participant with an average of $6,200 to pay for the expenses of their trip.

Mlyn, the outgoing director of the Robertson Scholars Program, said DukeEngage's flexible application process will differ from applying to an ultra-competitive service program.

"We don't really care about what you've done before," he said. "We care about what you're going to do in the future."

Lange said DukeEngage will ensure the safety of students heading to dangerous locations via a low student-teacher ratio similar to that of smaller service programs.

"I don't think we're going to get a ratio of 1:10, but we may get one of 1:20," he said. "We have to build up to that."

Lange said the program's wealth of opportunities will cement it as a prominent force among the service-based programs of the nation's top schools.

"If you go across the Ivies, you'll hear a lot of talk about civic engagement, but we're in the lead on this," he said.

Mlyn said he plans on establishing a student advisory board to assist him in planning, participating in and promoting DukeEngage programs. He said he will enlist 50 undergraduates to participate in a pilot program this summer.

In other business:

Deborah Johnson, assistant vice provost and director of student administrative services, presented an updated layout for the DukePass website that is set to launch March 1.

The revamped site will allow users to access the weather, their e-mail, their DukeCard balances and other features in an easy-to-use format, Johnson said.

Also, in response to backlash evoked by placing a sculpture titled "Tattoo" on the West Campus Plaza, the Senate unanimously approved a resolution drafted by DSG Executive Vice President Joe Fore, a senior, that asks Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, to appeal to students before placing art in prominent campus locations.

Fore said the resolution will help prevent the Office of Student Affairs from introducing other art works that clash with the campus' "Gothic-Wonderland mentality."

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