David Rubenstein, Trinity ‘70 and chair of the Board of Trustees, has given a $20 million gift to endow a scholarship program for first-generation, low-income students, the University announced Monday.
The program began this year as the Washington Duke Scholars Program and will now be called the David M. Rubenstein Scholars Program. It includes 30 undergraduates who were awarded a loan-free scholarship award for four years. They also received a four-week summer orientation program, mentorship opportunities, computers and seminars designed to support them after arriving at the University.
“I am honored to be able to support annually in this way a group of Duke students who, like me, are the first in their family to attend college,” Rubenstein said in a Duke Today release. “First-generation students provide valued diversity and talents to universities like Duke, but some of these students may need some help in transitioning to environments which can be far different than what they have known. I know that I certainly could have benefitted from such help. I am pleased that others in my situation will now, and in the future, be able to get this type of support at Duke.”
The program will add about 60 new scholars each year and will eventually have 240 scholars total. The university identifies potential candidates for the program from accepted applicants based on factors like academic achievement, family income and the education level of the student’s parents.
Around 10 percent of Duke's approximately 6,400 undergraduates are first-generation students.
"As a student at Duke, David Rubenstein learned the difference a scholarship could make to open the door to a great education," said President Richard Brodhead in the release. "As chair of Duke’s Board of Trustees, David has shown his 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. David's extraordinary gift makes it possible for Duke to fulfill our commitment to this ideal."
Rubenstein's previous contributions to the University include a $13.6 million gift for renovations to Perkins Library, $15 million to help catalyze the Innovation and Entrepreneurship program and $25 million to help fund the construction of Duke's new $50-million, 71,000-square foot Arts Center.
In May 2016, Rubenstein was elected to become a member of the Harvard Corporation and will step down as chair of Duke's Board on July 1 when his term ends.