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$492 million in gifts to Duke University further enhanced by Nicholas family’s $25 million donation for Climate and Sustainability
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$492 million in gifts to Duke University further enhanced by Nicholas family’s $25 million donation for Climate and Sustainability

Duke University alumni and friends gave nearly $492 million in fiscal year 2022 to support research, faculty, financial aid, patient care, campus transformations, and the student experience.

“The generosity of our alumni and friends sustains Duke’s research, education, and patient care missions,” said Duke President Vincent E. Price. “I am grateful for their support of our bold vision to address today’s most pressing challenges and chart a course toward an even stronger tomorrow.”

Gifts and non-governmental grants for research totaled nearly $197 million, representing the largest funded area of private philanthropy. Donors also supported financial aid for undergraduate and graduate students ($123 million), faculty research and teaching ($20 million), and new construction and facility renovations ($15 million).

“The Duke community is amazing when it comes together—and the support of this community, this year is a testament to that,” said David L. Kennedy, vice president for alumni affairs and development. “We at Duke are so appreciative of the sustained generosity of our Duke alumni, donors and friends.”

The Duke Annual Fund received more than $47 million from alumni, parents, students, and friends—a new record. The Annual Fund helps support students and faculty, financial aid and fellowships, and educational programs for all of Duke’s undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. It also supports Duke Chapel, Duke Libraries, Duke Marine Lab, Nasher Museum of Art, and the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

It was a leap forward for Duke Science and Technology, the university’s signature effort to elevate excellence in the sciences, with nearly $36 million in gifts in FY22 and more than $271 million to date since the campaign’s inception.

Duke is uniting the university’s education, research, operations, and public service missions to engage our entire community in the relentless pursuit of climate change solutions. This effort is being bolstered by major gifts including $3.5 million supporting a professorship in the Nicholas School of the Environment and $375,000 expendable support to ensure every Duke student becomes “climate fluent” via a focused effort to infuse the Duke curriculum with new courses on climate change, environmental policy, and more.

Financial aid for students was an important focus of donors and grantees this year. The Duke Endowment gave a $10 million award to help remove economic barriers for Duke Law School students by providing matching funds for endowments supporting scholarships and loan repayment assistance.

In addition, Duke received an anonymous bequest of $15 million from a Duke alumni couple to support scholarships for student changemakers pursuing degrees at Duke University School of Nursing, Duke Divinity School, and Trinity College of Arts & Sciences.

An anonymous Duke alumni family made an $11 million gift to Duke, $8.75 million of which endowed two public policy professorships and supported the Sanford School of Public Policy.

The public policy program founded by Terry Sanford—former Duke president, North Carolina governor, and United States senator—celebrated 50 years at the university over the course of the last year.

The largest part of the gift, $4 million, created the Grand Challenges of Public Policy Fellowship Fund, which is being used to support Sanford graduate students who have demonstrated a commitment to addressing the biggest problems that can be solved by public policy.

Duke Law School received a $2.5 million commitment to launch a criminal defense clinic. Funded by the Barton Family Foundation, the new clinic is providing Duke Law students with a hands-on, experiential learning course in the practice of criminal representation and training them to be leaders in ending mass incarceration and racial injustice.

The Duke Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CTSI), Duke University School of Medicine, and Duke University Health System launched a new initiative aimed at increasing diversity in clinical research and reducing health disparities. The initiative was supported by a $2.65 million grant to the School of Medicine from The Duke Endowment.

Duke named a state-of-the-art design lab The Christensen Family Center for Innovation for the family of the late thought leader Clayton Christensen, in recognition of the Christensen family’s $5 million gift to the Pratt School of Engineering. The gift provides perpetual support for the design center and support for a growing series of immersive design programs focused on solving challenges in health care, climate change, and other global issues facing humanity and the planet.

The Energy Access Project at Duke received a $3 million gift from M.A. Rogers to expand its efforts to develop policy and market solutions for modern energy solutions. The Energy Access Project was established in 2017 through an earlier gift from Rogers and her late husband, Jim, the former CEO and chairman of the board of the electric utility company Duke Energy. The program will adopt the new name of the James E. Rogers Energy Access Project at Duke in his memory.

Anonymous donors committed $10 million to Duke that includes $3 million for need-based financial aid, $5 million for the Research Translation and Commercialization (RTC) Project Fund to support translational research projects generated by Duke faculty and students, and $2 million to the RTC Infrastructure Support Fund in support of expanding and enhancing Duke’s RTC operations.

Over $36 million in initial gifts will launch the Duke Climate Commitment, a new university-wide initiative focused on addressing climate change.

The Duke Climate Commitment will unite the university’s education, research, operations, and public service missions toward the pursuit of creating solutions to climate change, said Duke President Vincent E. Price. Among the university’s goals are to facilitate a clean energy transition, create more climate resilient communities, leverage strengths in data to address climate problems, infuse climate fluency into the student curriculum and do all of this work with a focus on environmental and climate justice.

“This is such an exciting — and unprecedented — moment for Duke.” Price said. “We are very grateful for the support of our generous alumni and friends in this effort, which will enable Duke to create sustainable and equitable solutions that will place society on the path to a resilient, flourishing, net-zero-carbon world. We know we can do it—we know that we will do it—because Duke is in it, together, for life.”

The first award to the Duke Climate Commitment — $5 million representing the earliest philanthropic support of the new initiative — came from The Duke Endowment, the private foundation based in Charlotte, N.C., that was established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke. This support helped launch several initial efforts, including helping to solidify a Duke Climate Commitment primary goal around climate fluency for all students.

“We were pleased to be the first supporter of the Duke Climate Commitment,” said Minor Shaw, chair of the board of trustees at The Duke Endowment. “Duke is approaching the climate crisis in a thoughtful, interdisciplinary way, assessing all dimensions of its mission — education, research, public service and community partnerships — and saying, ‘We’re directing all of these efforts toward sustainable and just climate solutions.’”

In addition to The Duke Endowment award, the Duke Climate Commitment will be supported by a $25 million gift from Ginny Nicholas and the late Pete Nicholas, along with their children J.K. Nicholas, Katherine Nicholas and Peter M. Nicholas Jr and his wife, Christina Nicholas, who is a Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability advisory board member.

The Nicholas family provided the naming gift for Duke’s school of the environment, which was established in 1991 when the former, long-standing School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Duke University Marine Lab merged. In 2005 Duke established what is now the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability through the generosity of Ginny and Pete Nicholas.

“The Nicholas family has been the creative and accelerating force behind establishing a focus on the environment at Duke,” said Toddi Steelman, dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment. “They have a long history of supporting our environmental solutions-oriented institute that is seeking impact beyond the walls of Duke. Now they are helping Duke forge a new pathway for leadership in developing solutions for the most critical environmental challenge of our time — climate change.” 

Five additional early gifts to the Duke Climate Commitment will be used to establish and expand a climate curriculum at Duke.

This fall, Duke launched a university-wide course, “Let’s Talk about Climate Change,” to a maximum-capacity group of 150 undergraduate students.

Led by Duke biologist and professor Emily Bernhardt and Norman Wirzba, a professor of theology at Duke Divinity School, the class is an early example of the university’s goal to ensure that every Duke student understands the interdisciplinary complexities of the climate crisis and prepare them for leadership in developing climate change solutions.

In addition, hundreds of first-year students engaged in pre-orientation activities aimed at the environment, climate and sustainability.

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