The Business of the Board

October 1, 2003

Meeting in May, the Duke Alumni Association's board of directors witnessed via video the success of Duke's Neighborhood Partnership Initiative, received an update on the early stages of selecting the university's ninth president by members of the search committee, honored retiring officers and board members, and welcomed a new leader.

John Burness, senior vice president for public affairs and government relations, spoke at the opening plenary session on Duke's commitment to being a good neighbor. "Ours is very much an empowerment strategy," he said after a video presentation on the Duke-Durham partnership. "Duke is helping, instead of driving the agenda." He noted that $10 million of the Campaign for Duke was earmarked for the initiative.

Outgoing DAA President Wilton Alston B.S.E. '81 reported on the technological advances made by the DAA and the Alumni Affairs office in serving the alumni body. "We are now using technology to communicate faster with measurable results," he said. He shared a Power-Point presentation on DAA events that he had shown to Duke's trustees.

Allison Haltom '72, vice president and university secretary, and Ruth Wade Ross '68 reported on the presidential search. Haltom is the executive vice chair of the presidential search committee and Ross is the alumni representative. They said that the committee has established the position's criteria and is seeking input from the Duke community. The board of trustees hopes to name Duke's new president by February 2004.

In the official meeting of the DAA board, immediate past president Gary Melchionni '73, J.D. '81 gave his final trustee report. Among the topics he covered were discussions on the Washington Duke Inn expansion, allowing an increase in the number of engineering students admitted, exploring the need for a new dorm on East Campus, overall admissions statistics, and approving the athletics policy report, which recommended maintaining the status quo.

M. Laney Funderburk Jr. '60, director of Alumni Affairs and DAA secretary ex officio, gave the director's report. Some of the activities and accomplishments of 2002-03 he highlighted were:

  • The Woman's College Celebration in November for the classes of 1930 through 1972, with nearly 400 attending;
  • The Online Alumni Directory, which went live in December and now has 20,000 subscribers;
  • The Alumni Admissions Forum, now held annually;
  • Reunions, which completed its fifth year as a spring event, is now a tradition;
  • Upgrades on the website www.DukeAlumni.com led to increased activity;
  • A search to hire a director of marketing and member benefits and services.

DAA President Alston presented the nominating committee's slate of officers and directors for 2003-04, which was approved unanimously. He then handed over the gavel to the new president, Michele Miller Sales '78, J.D. '81, who adjourned the meeting.

Board members and alumni staff then convened at Watts Elementary School for a community-service project sponsored by the DAA. Outside, volunteers mulched, weeded, and planted. Inside, they hung colorful kites in the stairwells and added decorative soundproofing panels in the library and the gymnasium. That evening, members of the board occupied a box at the Durham Bulls' stadium for dinner and a baseball game..