Duke University Receives Historic $100M Gift for 100th Anniversary

The Duke Endowment's $100 million gift to the university will expand undergraduate financial aid and boost support for graduate students from historically Black colleges and universities, among other initiatives.
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Published on December 14, 2023
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  • The Duke Endowment and Duke University were both established in 1924 by James B. Duke.
  • The gift will also support Duke law clinics, which provide free legal assistance to North Carolina residents, and the Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke Building, which houses the sociology and psychology departments.
  • The Duke Endowment has given the university almost $2 billion since its inception.

Duke University celebrated its 100th anniversary last month with an equally monumental multimillion-dollar gift — one of the latest and largest donations to a U.S. college or university.

Duke University announced the historic $100 million gift from the Duke Endowment organization Nov. 30 to expand education access, enhance partnerships, construct a new building, and support current students, especially those from the Carolinas and graduate students from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs).

"Our two institutions have a shared origin story, and I am absolutely delighted that The Duke Endowment has chosen to launch our centennial with this historic award that will shape the Duke student experience in our second century," Duke University President Vincent E. Price said in the announcement.

"This award underscores the value of transformative teaching and learning experiences that prepare students to successfully engage with the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century."

Part of the gift will go to Duke's tuition-free initiative for students from North and South Carolina families making $150,000 or less, with extra housing, food, and expense support for students from families making $65,000 or less. Basketball rival, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, created a similar tuition-free initiative for North Carolina students a month later.

According to the press release, the Duke Endowment has awarded nearly $2 billion to the school over the last 100 years. The Duke Endowment, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, is a separate organization from the university established by the same creator, James B. Duke, in 1924.

The gift will:

  • Impact graduate and professional students from HBCUs and MSIs, with preference to those from the Carolinas
  • Enhance Ph.D. and professional school fellowships across all schools
  • Support full-tuition grants for qualifying students
  • Go toward an undergraduate financial aid match-funding challenge
  • Expand community-based work study for undergraduates and experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students
  • Create a support fund for Duke law clinics, where Duke law students offer free legal assistance to North Carolina citizens
  • Modernize and reconfigure the Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke Building, which houses the sociology and psychology departments. Reuben-Cooke was a trustee for the university and Duke Endowment

"Throughout our first century, the university and The Duke Endowment have worked together to realize Mr. Duke's vision for transforming the wisdom and talent and ambitions of students, faculty and staff into a much larger return for society — a significant expansion of human happiness," Price said in a press release.

"Today, as both institutions prepare to mark our centennials, we are delighted to announce and celebrate The Duke Endowment's $100 million centennial award in support of our vision for Duke University's second century."

The state of North Carolina also expanded education access for students at public colleges and universities late last month with a tuition- and fees-free scholarship automatically given to students from families making under $80,000.

Qualifying community college students who fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will receive at least $3,000, and public university students will receive at least $5,000 annually.