Peter Feaver, recipient of the 2001 Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award, was the featured speaker at the opening session of the winter meeting of the Duke Alumni Association's board of directors in late January. The political-science professor discussed his style of teaching and praised the high caliber of his students, noting, in particular, the intensity of their interest and involvement in his classes. Cognizant of Feaver's background as an adviser in the White House National Security Council in the early Nineties, the audience launched into a spirited question-and-answer session centering on the threat of war with Iraq.
Alumni Affairs director Laney Funderburk '60 then welcomed Sheila Curran, the new executive director of Duke's career center, as well as new Alumni Affairs staff members Barbara Blackburn M.B.A. '88, director of budget and personnel; Zoë Ingalls, Duke Magazine features editor; and Jeff Garner, director of technology. He reported on significant events that had happened since the last board meeting: the Woman's College celebration weekend in November, a new online alumni directory, and an imminent contract with Duke credit-card provider First USA/Bank One. He also announced that the Campaign for Duke met its $2-billion goal, almost a year ahead of schedule.
DAA President Wilton D. Alston B.S.E. '81, who serves ex officio on Duke's board of trustees, reported on his participation in its Building and Grounds Committee. He also announced that, during Homecoming on October 17, Duke will celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the enrollment of its first black student. Alston reported on the launch of a pilot program that pairs African-American alumni mentors with sophomores. In discussing the new online alumni directory, he reassured participants that signing on would not result in "spam," because the list is not shared outside Alumni Affairs.
Immediate past president Gary Melchionni '73, J.D. '81 reported on the two most recent meetings of the board of trustees, directing his comments in four areas: internationalization, the Duke-Durham Partnership Initiative, undergraduate admissions, and athletics. Melchionni is a trustee by virtue of his status as past DAA president.
Standing committees met on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. During the board meeting that followed, President Alston discussed two issues that had been in the news: the controversial speaking appearance of Laura Whitehorn, and a Wall Street Journal article that discussed the influence of family wealth on undergraduate admissions at Duke.
After adjournment, the board members toured the new Yoh Football Building and attended a reception at President Nannerl O. Keohane's house before the women's basketball game at Cameron.
A summary of committee meeting minutes follows:
Alumni Admissions, chaired by Sally Burks Schmalz '87. Discussion included the Alumni Admissions Forum to be held June 27, the April accept parties--nine are international--and August welcome parties for future freshmen. The volume of calls by students to AAAC director Edith Sprunt Toms '62 to schedule interviews has become overwhelming; more need to be handled by regional AAAC volunteers. Next year, all AAAC chairs, not just new ones, will be invited to the annual Volunteer Leadership Conference on campus and asked to take part in training sessions.
Clubs, chaired by William P. Miller '77. Before the meeting, committee members had been asked to consider the question, "Why do alumni clubs exist?" One main reason cited was for alumni to "network." It was suggested that Alumni Affairs and the DAA develop career programs, including career advisers, as a resource for alumni.
Lifelong Learning and Travel, chaired by Charlotte Reeves Clark '79, M.E.M. '83. An overview of the program from Deborah Weiss Fowlkes '78, director of alumni education and travel, showed growth in enrollment over the last four years but a dampening of travel abroad because of recent economic and political events. Interest in domestic trips, especially weekend trips, is increasing. A lecture series, cosponsored with the history department, has shown strong attendance, and speakers were in place for Duke Directions, the academic facet of Reunion weekend in April. The committee discussed online education offerings, which will be researched for the spring meeting.
Magazine/Communications, chaired by Sarah Harrington Adams '70, J.D. '73. The committee discussed possible contributions to the magazine by winners of the Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award. There were updates on the status of the alumni online directory, the restructuring of the magazine's Editorial Advisory Board, and self-published, online class notes. An e-mail newsletter, more promotional than the news-only eDuke, was discussed, and prototypes will be provided by staff before the next meeting. It was recommended that a new marketing hire also be charged with content management of the newsletter.
Member Benefits and Services, chaired by Pat Dempsey Hammond '80. In a discussion of the annual dues program, it was noted that 60 percent of alumni surveyed think they pay dues, while only 24 percent actually do. Electronic solicitation can be added, as well as dividing the paying population into affinity groups to increase the dues-paying membership. The credit-card program is being renewed, with a substantial increase in revenues projected. The DAA is forming an alliance with the Career Center to partially fund a new position there to address alumni career services. Possible new benefits were suggested, including a car-buying service, hotel-chain discounts, and an expansion of insurance programs.
Reunions, chaired by Tom Clark '69. The committee discussed Homecoming, a fall event. Reunions director Lisa Dilts '83 announced plans for an event called "20/40: The Celebration of a Legacy of Struggle and Excellence" to mark the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture as well as the fortieth anniversary of African Americans enrolling at Duke. The Half-Century Club, which normally celebrates its reunion with the other classes in April, will have its own two-day celebration during a weekend each fall, starting this year. Classes celebrating fifty-fifth and sixtieth reunions will still meet each spring for their regular class reunions.