Dukes Signature on American Higher Education
American higher education is widely admired throughout the world.
Private research universities occupy a special place in American
higher education, and Duke University ranks in the top echelon of
those institutions. In 77 years, we have substantially realized
James B. Dukes remarkable vision of transforming a progressive
regional liberal arts college into a national and international
university, thanks to the foresight and patient labor of generations
of trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, students, and alumni.
Our trajectory has been remarkable, and our momentum is strong.
The work, however, is never done. Our overriding goal is to cement
a leadership position among the small number of institutions that
define what is best in American higher education.
During 1999-2000, we undertook an integrated school-level and
university-level planning process with a particular focus on our
academic choices for strategic investment. This plan, adopted by
the board of trustees in spring 2001, sets our course for the next
five to ten years and plays a central role in our efforts to move
to the top of our peer institutions. We will benefit substantially
from having this clear, well-understood blueprint. Like a navigators
chart, it will help steer us past low-priority investments of our
time and energy. It gives bold expression to Dukes commitment
to stewardship, leadership, excellence, community, and values.
Our academic plan is rooted in our assessment of what Duke is
and what we want it to be. Among our most important comparative
advantages are our ability to build excellent multi-disciplinary
and interdisciplinary programs, both within and across schools,
and our ability to move somewhat more quickly and flexibly than
many of our competitors. Our physical layout, especially the close
proximity of the medical school and our other professional schools,
promotes interactions that are much more difficult at other universities.
Our relative youth is also an advantage, for we are less tied to
traditional modes of operation and more able to construct broad
new innovative programs. Our Duke culture generally supports programmatic
cooperation and coordination, as illustrated by the degree to which
the current strategic plans of our constituent schools have developed
along cooperative and complementary, rather than competitive, lines.
A broad theme of our plan, therefore, is deepening
the intensification of support, including facilities and
infrastructure, for the research and teaching of existing faculty,
and expansion only in targeted areas where we suffer particular
vulnerabilities or need to bolster faculty strength in order to
fulfill research and teaching priorities. While Duke saw significant
programmatic growth in the latter part of the 90s, our academic
facilities have not kept pace. It is essential that we address the
demand that has been created. We currently have essential programs
that are too cramped and crowded to be effective, and we have activities
that are split across locations, in a number of cases in off-campus,
We have laid out in these pages a synopsis of how we will take
this major step forward in excellence. The plan in greater detail
is available on line
and the headlines in this report link to the appropriate parts of