Duke trustees vote to honor Brodheads, select new board chairman

A statue of James Buchanan (Buck) Duke greets visitors to West Campus at Duke University. Duke Chapel is pictured at rear.
A statue of James Buchanan (Buck) Duke greets visitors to West Campus at Duke University. Duke Chapel is pictured at rear. The Herald-Sun

The Duke University Board of Trustees on Saturday approved naming the renovated West Union building after President Richard H. Brodhead, who steps down June 30 after leading the university for 13 years.

The building — where students eat, gather and connect in the center of campus — will be renamed the Richard H. Brodhead Center for Campus Life. In selecting a building that is central to student life to honor Brodhead, trustees cited his commitment to undergraduate education and the many innovative initiatives — from DukeEngage to Bass Connections — launched under his tenure that have reshaped Duke’s undergraduate experience. The new 112,000-square-foot Brodhead Center reopened in August 2016, after a three-year, $90 million renovation with principal funding from The Duke Endowment.

The board also approved naming the pergola in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens after Brodhead’s wife, Cindy, for her many contributions to the university and the Durham community. She is a member of the advisory boards of the Nasher Museum of Art and Duke Gardens, where she also volunteers as a horticulture assistant. The pergola sits at the top of the Terrace Gardens and is the site of many weddings.

“Dick and Cindy Brodhead have helped to transform Duke in so many ways, from academic leadership to student life to engagement with the community and the world,” said David Rubenstein, outgoing chair of the Board of Trustees, who will deliver Duke’s commencement address on Sunday, May 14. “We are delighted to honor them in this way.”

Trustees also elected Jack Bovender Jr. of Nashville, retired chairman and chief executive officer of HCA Healthcare, as the new board chair, starting July 1. He will serve a two-year term, and succeeds Rubenstein, who will be retiring from the board after 12 years and who has served as chair since 2013.

Bovender received from Duke both his bachelor’s degree in 1967 and his master's degree in hospital administration in 1969. He joined the board in 2007 and currently serves as trustee vice chair. Bovender headed up the search committee which recommended Vincent Price, the provost at the University of Pennsylvania, to follow Brodhead as Duke’s 10th president.

Trustees Laurene Sperling and William A. Hawkins III were elected to be vice chairs.

In addition, the trustees approved a $2.6 billion operating budget for fiscal year 2017-18 that provides for strategic investments in select programs, initiatives and building projects.

The operating budget, which covers the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017, reflects 8 percent growth from FY 2016-17. The budget includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing, but excludes Duke Hospital and other clinical components of the Duke University Health System.

The trustees also approved the FY 2017-18 capital budget, which includes planned investments of $399 million for major projects that include a new medical science research building, a new Alumni Center and new residence halls.

The budget includes an anticipated 9 percent increase in institutional financial aid for undergraduate students, with university support growing to $157 million.

About half of undergraduates receive financial support to attend Duke, the vast majority of which is need-based aid. The average aid awarded to need-based aid recipients in the 2015-16 academic year was about $45,000.

Duke is among a handful of schools that maintains a need-blind admissions policy, under which the university accepts U.S. undergraduates based on their academic accomplishments and potential without regard to their ability to pay, and then meets all of their demonstrated financial need.

In other business, trustees also:

▪  Gave final approval to a new academic strategic plan that will focus less on new initiatives and more on building new communities of faculty and students working in more effective ways in Duke’s many existing innovative programs.

The new strategic plan, “Together Duke: Advancing Excellence Through Community,” is the university’s first since 2006’s “Making a Difference.” The trustee vote followed unanimous approval of the plan Thursday by the Academic Council, the university’s highest governing body of faculty members.

▪  Heard from Ravi Bellamkonda, the Vinik Dean of Engineering, who discussed the Pratt School of Engineering's growing programs in research, education and entrepreneurship. He also shared plans for a signature first-year curriculum that emphasizes hands-on design, data science and computational skills that will begin piloting in the fall.

▪  Received an update from Chancellor of Health Affairs Dr. Eugene Washington and Dr. William Fulkerson, executive vice president of the Duke University Health System, on Duke Health’s long-term strategy.