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A Report from the Fuqua Alumni Council Spring Meeting
April 18, 2012
By Lee Waite '83
I am writing in this issue of FuquaNet to bring to your attention the good work that is being conducted on your behalf by the Fuqua Alumni Council. The Council consists of a representative group of approximately 50 alumni who meet twice a year to discuss issues relative to the school. You can learn more about the Alumni Council on the Fuqua alumni website.
The Council has established committees that focus on three topics: Engagement, Lifelong Learning and Development. Below is a brief snapshot of the goals of each:
- Engagement Committee: We have over 17,000 Fuqua alumni. How do we best engage as many alumni as possible with some aspect of the school? This could take the form of alumni groups in their region, interviewing or recommending prospective students, recruiting and hiring Fuqua grads, or attending class reunions. The group has also spent considerable time attempting to understand why many alumni are "disengaged," and is currently conducting a study of disengaged alumni. If you count yourself as a disengaged alumnus/a, we would love to hear why. We have created a short survey to gain insight into your Fuqua experience both as a student and as an alum.
- Lifelong Learning Committee: To some degree, all education has some "shelf life." The Lifelong Learning Committee is beginning to put in place various opportunities for you to "touch up" on certain aspects of your MBA education. They have been promoting a series titled "Fuqua Faculty Conversations." To date Fuqua has hosted two sessions-one with Shane Dikolli, Associate Professor of Accounting, discussing "The Effect of CEO Traits on Firms Policies and Outcomes," and a second with Cam Harvey, J. Paul Sticht Professor in International Business, on "Confronting Global Risks." As you may be aware, Fuqua's faculty is ranked #1 in intellectual capital by Bloomburg BusinessWeek. This is a great opportunity to hear from and interact with them. Keep an eye out for information about the April session with Peter Ubel, John O. Blackburn Professor of Marketing and Professor of Public Policy. The committee is working on future lifelong learning initiatives as well.
- Development Committee: The Development Committee supports the Fuqua Annual Fund by reaching out to fellow alumni to encourage their participation. The Annual Fund is a critical source of unrestricted dollars that support nearly every aspect of the school's mission, from scholarships to faculty research to program enhancements. Our goal is to raise $3 million by the end of the 2012 fiscal year on June 30. If you have not done so yet, and you would like to contribute, please visit the alumni giving pages.
We concluded our spring meeting about two weeks ago. I would like to share with you four interesting aspects of the meeting:
- Dean Bill Boulding addressed the group and reported that the school is financially sound, and the outlook is positive for the foreseeable future. Admission numbers are looking strong, particularly when compared to our peer institutions. Rankings are steadily improving. The faculty continues to be a core strength of the school. We currently have 89 tenure-track faculty, and we plan to add several more this year and next year. Competition with our peer institutions for outstanding faculty is steep, but Fuqua is an attractive place for both research and teaching.
- Kimberly Jenkins, Senior Advisor to the President and Provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, gave an outstanding talk on all that the university is doing in this space. Kimberly described Duke's innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E) effort which encompasses all of Duke's schools including Fuqua, the medical school, the school of engineering, and the law school. The effort is designed to build business infrastructure around Duke's researchers to capitalize on and commercialize their research (to enable research to go from "bench to bedside") and to promote development of entrepreneurial ideas among students. Since alumni are an important part of the I&E community, Duke started the Duke Global Entrepreneurship Network (DukeGEN) to bring entrepreneurs, dealmakers and others together where they live and work. You may have seen an invitation to one of the DukeGEN networking events in your community. Fuqua is an integral part of the I&E effort, and Kimberly encouraged us to participate. We can engage through the speaker series, mentor and coaching efforts, hosting and hiring interns, or participating as a dealmaker, entrepreneur, or judge for the Duke Start-Up Challenge. More details on entrepreneurship at Duke are available at http://www.entrepreneurship.duke.edu/.
- Dorian Van Gorder, Manager, Web and Interactive Services, came to speak with us regarding the revamping of the Fuqua alumni web site. I think everyone was impressed with the progress to date and enjoyed seeing the "taxonomy" of the site. This is a perfect time for the Alumni Council to get involved and help shape the new site. Dorian will use us as guinea pigs to solicit input as her work progresses. Expected time frame for the new site is 6-12 months depending how complicated the build becomes.
- Gavan Fitzsimmons, R. David Thomas Professor of Marketing and Psychology, spoke with us and discussed "the unconscious consumer." Have you ever gone to a fast food restaurant fully planning to order the salad only to come away with French fries? According to Gavan's research, you aren't alone. His research shows that if there are no healthy choices on a menu, people tend to choose one of the "lesser evils" on the menu. However, if there is a healthy choice such as a salad, only about 5% of people order the salad. The rest go to the opposite extreme and order the least healthy thing on the menu-those French fries! Gavan and his team are using their research to influence school cafeterias to offer a variety of healthy choices in order to reduce childhood obesity. Gavan has a whole host of other interesting research into how unconscious marketing messages influence our behavior. To learn more about Gavan and his research please see: http://faculty.fuqua.duke.edu/~gavan/bio/GJF_Duke_site/Home.html
Every year we have members rolling off the Council and therefore always have a need to identify the next great batch of new members. This year we will be looking to add approximately 10 people. If you have an interest in learning more or getting involved with the Council, please e-mail Erin Gasch, Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving, at email@example.com.
This past meeting was my last as Chair. Fortunately for all of you, I leave you in the excellent care of incoming Chair Lynne Kaye '82 and incoming Vice Chair Liz Crute '95.