The Duke Endowment of Charlotte is giving $75 million to the university for student financial aid--the largest single gift made by the Endowment in its eighty-one-year history, and the largest single gift ever received by Duke.
Richard H. Brodhead, who assumed Duke's presidency in July 2004, has identified strengthening the university's financial-aid endowment as one of his highest priorities.
The $75-million commitment, to be paid over three years, was announced by Russell M. Robinson, chairman of The Duke Endowment, at a ceremony in Perkins Library attended by university students, faculty and staff members, and trustees of the Endowment. "Amazingly, within the very brief time since Mr. Duke's gift creating Duke University, it has achieved his dream of attaining a place of real leadership in the educational world. An essential part of that dream is providing financial aid so that the student body can be the best available within a wide range of backgrounds and talents, without any limitation of financial constraints," Robinson said.
"We will use this unprecedented gift to encourage additional giving for student financial aid," Brodhead said. "Building permanent endowment support will help assure that Duke will never have to deny a student a place for reason of lack of means."
Duke is among a small number of colleges and universities across the country with a "need-blind" admissions policy, admitting students without regard to their ability to pay. It commits to providing a four-year financial-aid package to meet the demonstrated financial need of qualified students. About 40 percent of the university's undergraduates qualify for need-based aid. This year, Duke budgeted about $55 million for undergraduate financial aid, 7.7 percent more than last year. Brodhead said the Endowment's gift would be used as a matching-fund incentive to spur additional contributions for financial aid.
The Duke Endowment was established as a charitable trust in 1924 with a $40-million gift from industrialist James Buchanan Duke. Its founding indenture required that annual income be distributed in North and South Carolina among hospitals, orphanages, the Methodist Church, three colleges, and a new university to be built around Trinity College in Durham. To accomplish the last task, funds were made available for the old Trinity College campus and for the creation of a new campus--Duke's West Campus. The combined institution was named Duke University to honor Washington Duke, James B. Duke's father, and his family. Since then, The Duke Endowment has been the university's largest benefactor.
The initial $40 million that established the Endowment was augmented within a year by an additional $67 million following James B. Duke's death. The Duke Endowment has grown dramatically over time. The market value of its assets totaled approximately $2.5 billion at the end of 2004, making it one of the largest charitable foundations in the nation and the largest in the Southeast.