My Giving Story: Jack Boyd
Becoming the first person in his family to go to college was a distinction Jack Boyd ’85 didn’t take lightly. He still remembers the excitement of his first day at Duke, from meeting his roommate to attending his first dorm meeting. That was the moment a realization hit him: attached to his new independence and student role was some serious responsibility.
Thirty years after graduating, Boyd feels a deep sense of responsibility to his alma mater, too. Today he serves as a Duke Trustee Observer and president-elect of the Duke Alumni Association (DAA). And, in honor of his recent class reunion, he made an unrestricted bequest to support the university’s most pressing needs.
“The decision to include Duke in my long-term plans was an easy one to make,” says Boyd. “Duke’s commitment to putting knowledge in service of society is a model that delivers immediate results and serves as a platform for the future.” The bequest will help Duke reach new heights in academia, research, and community service. Boyd hopes the university will continue to move the world forward by preparing future generations of critical thinkers to become global influencers.
But financial support is not the only kind of generosity Boyd has shown Duke. In 2009, he helped launch and became co-chair of Duke Alums Engage NYC, a program through which alumni can participate in service learning and civic engagement in a uniquely Duke way. He has served on the DAA Board of Directors since 2010 and as a member of the DukeNY Board since 2011. Elected to the Board of Trustees in 2015, he serves on the Institutional Advancement Committee and the Medical Center Academic Affairs Committee. His remarkable record of volunteer work also includes co-chairing three class reunions.
Boyd says his desire to give back grew from his recognition of Duke’s impact on his life. After receiving his B.S. in 1985, he worked in sales and management roles at Milliken & Company, a South Carolina textile manufacturer. In 1988, he moved to New York, where he is currently executive vice president of marketing & product development at Elastic Fabrics of America, a textile company headquartered in Greensboro, NC.
How did your Duke education influence your career and your life?
I have my current job because my boss gave me the benefit of the doubt when hiring me 28 years ago, even though I had no experience. The opportunity to prove myself with colleagues, clients, and vendors has been extended many times over because of the Duke brand.
As for Duke’s influence on my life, I arrived on campus thinking I knew everything and left realizing that, in fact, I knew almost nothing. It continues to be an oddly liberating epiphany, because as a student, I developed tools and habits that allow me to keep learning and growing.
Tell us about your connection to the Duke Alums Engage project and how you became involved.
I’ve served as co-chair of Duke Alums Engage NYC since its inception in 2009 and have been honored to work with an amazing team of volunteers in the New York area.
My involvement began in 2008, when an imminent world hunger crisis was projected to have a devastating impact on organizations that feed the world’s poorest people. I started talking to DAA about mobilizing the power of our alumni to address the problem. Eventually, the crisis subsided. But by then, we had spent a lot of time discussing how this might work. So when the DAA needed someone to co-lead the pilot for Duke Alums Engage NYC, they asked if I would help.
You’ve held several leadership roles at Duke. Why do you think volunteering and giving back—particularly through time and talent—is important?
I benefitted from the efforts of the volunteers and donors who came before me. So I give time and money as a way of paying it forward, even though I get so much out of it that I often feel like the beneficiary.
I’ve made new friends, reconnected with old ones and had an opportunity to be engaged with a place I love. Yet Duke is more than just a campus and classrooms; it’s a group of dedicated people who shape what it means to be a Dukie—a group that exists beyond the walls of our buildings and arenas.
A Duke education is expensive, but supplementing that with a lifetime of learning, engagement, and connection is priceless. Our alumni volunteers help make that possible. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?