Making a Difference

November 30, 2006

The board of trustees has approved a strategic plan for the university that will invest $1.3 billion above normal budgets over the next five to eight years in students, faculty members, programming, and facilities. Duke President Richard H. Brodhead says the plan, called "Making a Difference," has been in development for nearly two years.

The plan highlights six central themes the university will pursue in a world where the Internet and other technologies have transformed learning and where students routinely travel to explore educational opportunities. The themes are interdisciplinarity, knowledge in the service of society, the enduring importance of the humanities, internationalization, diversity, and affordability and access.

Consistent with these themes, "Making a Difference" describes strategies for achieving six academic goals:

  • Creating a Faculty Enhancement Initiative that commits $100 million over the next five to eight years to hire, retain, and support outstanding faculty members at all levels.
  • Strengthening Duke's engagement in "real-world" issues through interdisciplinary programs that include strategic initiatives in global health; earth sciences and engineering; brain, mind, genes, and behavior; and imaging.
  • Deepening the undergraduate experience by encouraging students to become active learners, respond to rapid change, and contribute to the global community.
  • Attracting the best graduate and professional students through increased financial support and stronger graduate programs, and integrating graduate students more fully into the academic community.
  • Transforming the arts at Duke through enhanced programming, curricular opportunities, cross-disciplinary research, and improved and expanded arts facilities.
  • Pursuing innovative ways to create, manage, and deliver scholarly resources for teaching and research through the libraries and the use of information technology, including a new Central Campus library facility to support the study of visual culture.


"Making a Difference" calls for the university to build upon the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership; work with local leaders on the revitalization of downtown Durham, West Main Street, and Ninth Street; expand collaboration with North Carolina Central University and Durham Technical Community College; and transform Central Campus.

Provost Peter Lange says the university looks "to attract students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels who will seize the opportunities to engage fully in all facets of the Duke experience, whether it's carrying out research, interacting with the local community, or putting their new knowledge to work around the world."

Duke must "prepare students for lives of personal integrity and engaged citizenship," the plan says, "infusing ethical inquiry and service-learning in the undergraduate, graduate, and professional curriculum."