Duke University’s trustee chairman, David Rubenstein, has given $20 million for scholarships for low-income students who are the first in their families to go to college.
Investment returns from the endowed donation will support needy students into the future. The scholarships will cover the full cost of attendance at Duke, plus enrichment activities and professional development.
The no-loan program began this year under the Washington Duke Scholars banner, but it will be renamed the David M. Rubenstein Scholars Program. Once fully expanded in four years, it will cover the education of 240 students. Recipients will be chosen from Duke’s applicant pool, based on family income and academic achievement, as well as parents’ educational level and available resources at students’ high schools.
Rubenstein is a Washington businessman, philanthropist and Duke alumnus who has given millions to the university, including its Sanford School of Public Policy, its libraries, an innovation initiative, Jewish programs, the arts, financial aid and athletics. He is a founder of the private equity firm Carlyle Group and has a net worth of $2.6 billion, according to Forbes.
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He chaired the university’s recent $3.25 billion fundraising campaign and will be the commencement speaker at Duke next month, just before his trustee term ends.
Rubenstein himself was the beneficiary of financial aid when he attended Duke as the first in his family to go to college. He graduated magna cum laude in 1970.
Great universities must seek out and welcome talented students regardless of their family’s prior educational experience or ability to pay. David’s extraordinary gift makes it possible for Duke to fulfill our commitment to this ideal.
Richard Brodhead, Duke University president
The scholarship fund will boost the chances of lower-income students to enroll at Duke, where 10 percent of its undergraduate population are first-generation college students.
Duke’s annual pricetag is nearly $66,000 in tuition, room, board and fees. According to a study this year that compared colleges on economic mobility, Duke was among 38 colleges that had more students from the top 1 percent than the bottom 60 percent in income. However, Duke was 35th among elite universities in its enrollment of low- and middle-income students.
Duke President Richard Brodhead said Rubenstein had shown a deep understanding of the importance of access to higher education.
“Great universities must seek out and welcome talented students regardless of their family’s prior educational experience or ability to pay,” Brodhead said in a statement. “David’s extraordinary gift makes it possible for Duke to fulfill our commitment to this ideal.”
Rubenstein’s philanthropy extends beyond higher education, most notably to historic preservation of national landmarks and important documents. His donations have helped restore Mount Vernon, the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. He bought the last private copy of the Magna Carta, which is now available for public view at a new gallery at the National Archives.
He is among several dozen wealthy individuals who, along with Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, has signed The Giving Pledge, an intent to give away at least half of their fortunes.