The Duke Endowment Makes $100 Million Centennial Gift

To mark the centennial of both institutions, The Duke Endowment has awarded Duke University $100 million to support the university’s vision for the next 100 years of higher education.

The largest single award in the university’s history, the investment will expand access to a Duke education; boost support for Duke students, especially those from the Carolinas and Duke graduate students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority-serving institutions; deepen the university’s community partnerships; and honor Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke’s legacy by making the building that bears her name a model for 21st century teaching and learning.

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,” said Duke University President Vincent E. Price.​“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.”

The award will support Duke University’s new financial aid initiative providing full tuition grants for undergraduate students from North and South Carolina with qualifying family incomes. The initiative, announced in June 2023, is supporting more than 340 undergraduate students during the current semester.

We are committed to continuing to make a Duke education accessible and affordable to students from a wide range of backgrounds,” said Provost Alec D. Gallimore.​“This extraordinary award will benefit hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students from the Carolinas and beyond each year, in all areas of Duke University.”

The Duke Endowment, based in Charlotte, is Duke University’s largest donor and has awarded nearly $2billion to the university and Duke Health in the last 100 years.

Over the past 100 years, support from The Duke Endowment and its trustees has played a key role in the university’s growth and development,” said Charlie Lucas, chair of the board of The Duke Endowment.​“Strengthening communities in North Carolina and South Carolina through education is central to James B. Duke’s philanthropic vision. This award is a direct reflection of his desire to make a high-value education accessible to all and support students from across the Carolinas.”

Though The Duke Endowment shares a name with Duke University, they are separate organizations. The Endowment is a private foundation established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke, with Duke University as one of its principal beneficiaries.

The new award reinforces Price’s community-centered vision for the university to empower people to address the world’s most pressing challenges, innovate in teaching and learning, renew the campus community, partner with purpose in service to Durham and the region, and engage Duke’s global network.

Specifically, the award will support:

  • Graduate and professional students at Duke who earned undergraduate degrees from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other designated minority serving institutions, with a preference for students who graduated from institutions in the Carolinas;
  • Ph.D. and professional school fellowships in all schools, including Medicine and Nursing;
  • Full tuition grants for undergraduates from North and South Carolina with total family incomes of less than $150,000, plus a range of other types of support for North and South Carolina students with total family incomes below $65,000;
  • An undergraduate financial aid challenge to match funds from Duke University’s donor community.

In experiential learning and community engagement, the award will:

  • Expand and support community-based work study and experiential learning opportunities for more undergraduate students each year;
  • Provide opportunities to graduate and professional students for experiential learning and community engagement, while helping meet Duke’s commitment to 12-month funding for Ph.D. students;
  • Create a support fund for Duke Law Clinics, which provide free legal assistance to North Carolina citizens. The fund is named for Mary D.B.T. Semans, granddaughter of Benjamin N. Duke and grandniece of James B. Duke. The first woman to chair The Duke Endowment’s Board of Trustees, Semans was a champion for people in challenging circumstances.

The award will also modernize and reconfigure the Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke Building on West Campus to support collaborative and interdisciplinary learning. The building houses Duke’s sociology and psychology departments and in 2021 was named in honor of Reuben-Cooke as one of the first five Black students who integrated Duke’s campus in 1963. She also served as a trustee of both Duke University and The Duke Endowment.

The Duke Endowment’s unrivaled support of Duke University across the last century includes hundreds of significant grants across the university and health system, including a $75 million award to support a financial aid initiative in 2007, a $50 million award to build a new academic center for the medical school in 2008, an $80 million award in 2011 for West and East Campus renovations, and two $50 million awards to support the Duke Science and Technology faculty hiring initiative, announced in 2019 and 2021.

This transformational gift, made in honor of Duke University’s centennial and as part of The Duke Endowment’s centennial, demonstrates the endowment’s ongoing commitment to the university as it moves into its second century,” Lucas said.

Beyond its support for Duke University, The Duke Endowment strengthens communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds and enriching spirits. Since its founding, it has distributed more than $4 billion in grants.