The fellows of the Yale Corporation spent the weekend at Duke University, where they learned about some of its strongest programs and discussed priorities for the next five years at Yale.

The Corporation, which is the University’s highest governing body, usually meets five times per year and holds its first session of the academic year off campus. In recent years, the group has traveled to other colleges and universities for some of its retreats. At Duke, University President Richard Levin said, the fellows saw examples of how different schools and divisions of one university can work together.

“It was really very interesting,” Levin said. “Duke seemed to us to be a school that is very committed to cross-boundary collaborations. There’s a real emphasis there on working across schools and departments to create interdisciplinary activities in teaching and research and policy intervention.”

Levin said the Corporation was particularly impressed with Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy, which both bring together students, faculty, researchers and public policy specialists from various backgrounds to study important issues.

After learning about those programs, Levin said, the fellows heard a presentation about the School of Medicine at Duke, one of the top-ranked medical schools in the country. The Corporation has devoted significant attention in the last decade to Yale’s School of Medicine and, in the spring, made its Ad Hoc Committee on the School of Medicine a full standing committee.

Levin said he was surprised to learn that while Duke’s medical programs have tremendous breadth, they are not as integrated with the rest of the Research Triangle in North Carolina as, say, work at Stanford University is with Silicon Valley.

“It’s not as tightly linked as I always imagined,” Levin said, likening the relationship between Duke and the rest of the Research Triangle to Yale’s relationship with Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies in Connecticut.

The fellows spent a day of the retreat thinking about matters back in Connecticut and defining goals for the next five years at Yale.

“We began a conversation about what should be, as resources become available, what should be our priorities,” Levin said. “It’s good to feel people out about priorities for investment in the sciences and the new colleges and the business school and the arts.”

But, Levin cautioned, that conversation remains largely hypothetical since resources are still hard to come by. Indeed, he said, the Corporation also spent time talking about various budget cuts that the University is making this year.

The fellows got to catch up over the weekend with Richard Brodhead ’68 GRD ’72, the beloved former dean of Yale College who is now president of Duke.

Levin said Brodhead “seems to be doing a fabulous job” and acknowledged that the Corporation enjoys meeting with former Yale officials who now head other universities. In recent years, the Corporation has visited the University of Cambridge and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which are both now led by former Yale provosts.

Last year, the Corporation held its fall retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyo., where Senior Fellow Roland Betts ’68 has a house.