In a move unprecedented in U.S. higher education, Duke will create a program that will allow every undergraduate to partake in one in-depth service opportunity over the course of a summer or an academic semester, the University announced Monday.

"Education finally isn't about doing homework-it's about actively desiring to use your personal knowledge to accomplish something in the world," President Richard Brodhead said.

Under the title DukeEngage, the new program aims to provide full financial support and faculty advising to all undergraduates who wish to make civic engagement a greater part of their Duke education, whether their projects be on the local, national or international level.

Provost Peter Lange said students will have an opportunity through DukeEngage to join existing University projects, work in conjunction with non-governmental organizations or design their own project proposals.

He added that Duke's commitment to provide financial support to students in this civic capacity is what makes the program unique. "We haven't been able to find anyone who has put the opportunities in front of the students the way we're doing here," he said.

DukeEngage is expected to begin in full in Summer 2008 through a combined $30 million from the Duke Endowment and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Lange said. Each organization donated $15 million to endow the project.

"The goals of the program are very consistent with the goals of those foundations," Lange said.

When the program is launched, each student who has completed two semesters at Duke will be invited to submit a grant proposal for an intensive service project. The University will pay for students' travel expenses and a stipend for cost-of-living and will also cover additional expenses for students receiving financial aid who have "summer earnings" requirements.

In statements released Monday, Russell Robinson, chair of the Duke Endowment, and Melinda Gates, Trinity '86 and Fuqua '87, praised the civic and academic goals of DukeEngage.

"President Brodhead and Duke University have a clear vision and plan for making social and public service part of an undergraduate education," Gates said in the statement. "DukeEngage will deepen and broaden the college experience by providing the funding and support students need to pursue meaningful service opportunities."

As a part of DukeEngage's leadership, Eric Mlyn, director of the Robertson Scholars Program, has been selected as inaugural director. David Gergen, a Duke trustee and former advisor to the White House, will chair the program's national advisory committee, which will provide counsel to the provost and president and reach out to non-profit organizations.

"There are a growing number of young Americans... who have created or belong to organizations devoted to social change," Gergen said. "DukeEngage will give a significant number of Duke students a chance to become the social entrepreneurs of the future."

James Joseph, former U.S. ambassador to South Africa and director of the U.S.-Southern Africa Center for Leadership and Public Values at Duke, will lead the faculty advisory board. Sherryl Broverman, associate professor of the practice of biology, will serve as vice chair of that board.

Administrators said the program is the crystallization of an emphasis on knowledge in the service of society that has evolved over the last several years-particularly in the University's most recent strategic plan, "Making a Difference."

"The main thing is that if you go back to President Brodhead's inaugural [speech], he talked about how we can take what our students learn in the classroom and apply it more broadly," said John Burness, senior vice president for public affairs and government relations.

Administrators estimate that approximately 25 percent of Duke undergraduates will take part in the program during their time at Duke after it has gone into full swing, Lange said, adding that he expects the program to require between $2 and $2.5 million of financial support a year.

Brodhead said the program does not wish to "monopolize service at Duke."

"Students will and should continue to do a great variety of service activities that won't be as intensive as what we're talking about here," he said.

Along with the creation of DukeEngage, University officials announced a new Center for Civic Engagement, which will fall under the purview of the Provost's Office. In addition to the appointment of a director, Lange said he expects that two to three additional staff members will be hired specifically for the center.