Duke University History

Duke University is a private research university in the United States. It is located in Durham, North Carolina. In 1838, Methodists and Quakers opened the school in what is now the city of Trinity. In 1892, the school moved to the city of Durham.[13] James Buchanan Duke, an entrepreneur in the tobacco and electric power industries, set up The Duke Endowment in 1924. The name of the organization was changed to honor his late father, Washington Duke.[14]

The campus is made up of three connected sub-campuses in Durham and a marine lab in Beaufort. Together, they cover more than 8,600 acres (3,500 hectares).[15] The West Campus was mostly designed by Julian Abele, an African American architect who graduated first in his class from the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. It has Gothic architecture, with the 210-foot (64-meter) Duke Chapel at the center and highest point of the campus, which is next to the Medical Center. All first-years live on East Campus, which is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) away and has Georgian-style buildings.

The university runs two schools in Asia at the same time: Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore (which opened in 2005) and Duke Kunshan University in Kunshan, China (which opened in 2013).[16]

With a 6.2% acceptance rate for the class of 2026, Duke’s college openings are among the most elite in the U.S.[17][18] Duke spends more than $1 billion a year on research, making it one of the ten biggest research colleges in the United States.[19] More than a dozen professors are always on the yearly lists of the most-cited thinkers in the world.[20] As of 2019, the university has been home to 15 Nobel Prize winners and 3 Turing Award winners. Duke’s grads also include 50 Rhodes Scholars and the third most Churchill Scholars (after Princeton and Harvard) and the fifth most Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Goldwater, and Udall Scholars between 1986 and 2017. Richard Nixon, the 37th president of the United States, and 14 live billionaires all went to Duke.[21]

As of 2021, Duke has more than 43,000 workers, making it the fourth biggest private company in North Carolina.[22] Several sources have said that the university is a great place to work.[23][24]


Duke was first started in 1838 as Brown’s Schoolhouse, a private membership school in the town of Trinity in Randolph County, North Carolina.[25] The Union Institute Society was made up of Methodists and Quakers. In 1841, North Carolina gave Brown’s Schoolhouse a charter and turned it into the Union Institute Academy. The Methodist Church helped change the name of the school to Normal College in 1851, and then to Trinity College in 1859.[25] Trinity College moved to Durham in 1892, thanks in large part to the help of strong and recognized Methodists Julian S. Carr and Washington Duke, who had made a lot of money in the tobacco and electricity businesses and gave a lot of money to Trinity College.[13] Carr gave land for the first Durham school, which is now called East school, in 1892. At the same time, Washington Duke gave the school $85,000 ($2,770,000 in today’s dollars) for an initial endowment and construction costs. He later added three more gifts of $100,000 each in 1896, 1899, and 1900, with the condition that the college “open its doors to women and put them on an equal footing with men.”[26]

In 1924, James B. Duke, Washington Duke’s son, set up The Duke Endowment with $40 million in a trust fund. Hospitals, charities, the Methodist Church, and four schools, including Trinity College, were to get money from the fund. William Preston Few, who was president of Trinity at the time, demanded that the school be renamed Duke University to honor the giving of the Duke family and to set it apart from all the other colleges and universities with the name “Trinity.” At first, James B. Duke thought that changing the name would look like he was doing it for himself, but in the end, he agreed to Few’s idea as a way to honor his father.[13] The university grew quickly with the help of the money from the foundation. From 1925 to 1927, Georgian-style buildings were put up on East site, Duke’s first site. By 1930, most of the Collegiate Gothic-style buildings on the campus one mile (1.6 km) to the west were finished. In 1935, Duke Chapel was the last building to be built on West Campus.[27]

In the center is a statue of James B. Duke, and in the background is Duke Chapel. James B. Duke started the Duke Endowment, which gives money to many places, including Duke University.
In 1878, Mary, Persis, and Theresa Giles got their A.B. degrees from Trinity College in Randolph County. They had studied with private teachers and in groups with men. When the college moved in 1892, the board of trustees decided that women could once again be accepted as day students. In 1896, when Washington Duke gave money to the college with the condition that women be put “on an equal footing with men,” there were only four women there. Three of them were the children of staff members. In 1903, Washington Duke wrote to the board of trustees to get rid of the clause. He said it was the only restriction he had ever put on a gift to the college. In 1897, the Mary Duke Building, a school for women, was built. It was named for Washington Duke’s daughter. By 1904, there were 54 women studying at the college. In 1930, the Woman’s College was set up to match the student college for men, which had been set up in 1924 and given the name Trinity College.[28]

According to the Duke University Human Rights Center, the school’s policy in the 1920s was that black people couldn’t attend and couldn’t use certain university buildings like eating halls and dorms. In 1948, a group of divinity school students asked the divinity school to stop being segregated. This was the first organized move to get Duke to stop being segregated.[29]

Expansion and growth

Engineering had been taught at Duke since 1903, but in 1939, it became its own school. The J. Deryl Hart House, which is where the university president lives, was finished in 1934. In 1942, Duke hosted and played in the first Rose Bowl game ever played outside of California. The second game of this kind was moved to Arlington, Texas, in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.[25][30] During World War II, Duke was one of 131 colleges and universities across the country that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program. This program gave students a way to get a navy rank.[31] In 1963, the Board of Trustees made it clear that the student college was no longer separated.[32]

In 1961, Duke took in its first black college students.[33] Before September 1963, the school didn’t let Black people start as freshmen. All of the teachers were White until 1966.[34]

In the 1960s, there was more activity on campus, which led Martin Luther King Jr. to talk about the growth of the Civil Rights Movement at the university in November 1964. After Douglas Knight quit as university president, Terry Sanford, the former governor of North Carolina, was elected president of the university in 1969. This led to the opening of the Fuqua School of Business, the completion of the William R. Perkins library, and the creation of the Institute of Policy Sciences and Public Affairs, which is now called the Sanford School of Public Policy. In 1972, the separate Woman’s College united back with Trinity. Both men and women now go to Trinity, which is a liberal arts college.

In the 1970s, Duke’s leaders started a long-term plan to improve the school’s image both in the U.S. and abroad. Interdisciplinary work was stressed, as was getting teachers and students from underrepresented groups. During this time, it also became the first place in the United States to offer a degree program for Physician Assistants.[35][36][37] The Duke University Hospital was finished in 1980, and two years later, the student hall building was finished. Duke’s first National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship was won by the men’s soccer team in 1986. Soon after, the men’s basketball team won titles in 1991 and 1992, and then again in 2001, 2010, and 2015.

Duke Forward, an effort to raise money that took seven years, had raised $3.85 billion by August 2017.[38]

Recent history

In 2014, Charles B. Aycock, a white nationalist who was governor of North Carolina, had his name taken off of a student housing at Duke.[40] Currently, it is called the East Residence Hall.

After the violent fights at the Unite the Right gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 19, 2017, the figure of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was taken down from the door to Duke University Chapel because protesters had damaged it.[41][42][43]

In August 2020, the first Duke Kunshan University students came to Duke’s campus to study abroad. Chinese Duke college and graduate students who couldn’t go to the U.S. because of COVID-19 were housed at the Duke Kunshan site.[44]


In 2006, three men’s lacrosse players were wrongly accused of rape, which got a lot of notice from the media.[47] On April 11, 2007, Roy Cooper, the Attorney General of North Carolina, dropped all charges against the three players and said they were innocent. Cooper said that the players who were accused were hurt by a “tragic rush to accuse.”[48][49] Mike Nifong, the District Attorney, was then kicked out of his job.[50]

In 2019, Duke paid $112.5 million to settle claims made under the False Claims Act about wrongdoing in science study. A researcher at the school made up or faked study results in order to get funds and make money. In 2013, the researcher was charged with taking money from the university without permission. Allegations made in a case filed by a tipster who had worked at Duke and found the fake data led to the plan being found out.[51][52]

In answer to the payment for wrongdoing, Duke put together a group of professors from Caltech, Stanford, and Rockefeller Universities to give advice. Based on what this group said, the Duke Office of Scientific Integrity (DOSI) was set up. Lawrence Carin, an engineering professor and one of the world’s top experts on machine learning and artificial intelligence, is in charge of it.[53] By setting up this office, Duke’s study methods are now the same as those at other universities like Johns Hopkins.[54]


Duke University owns 256 buildings and 8,693 acres (35.18 km2) of land, which includes the 7,044-acre (28.51 km2) Duke Forest.[9] The school has four main areas: the West, East, and Central grounds, as well as the Medical Center. A free bus service connects all of these areas. As part of its marine lab, Duke owns 15 acres (61,000 m2) on the Atlantic coast in Beaufort. The Sarah P. Duke Gardens, which were built in the 1930s and cover an area of 220,000 square feet (54 acres), are one of the most popular places to visit on the main campus.[9]

Duke students often call the West Campus “the Gothic Wonderland,” a name that comes from the style of building on West Campus, which is called “Collegiate Gothic.”[55][56][57] Julian Abele, one of the first well-known African-American architects and the top designer in the office of builder Horace Trumbauer, created a lot of the site.[58] The buildings in the household quadrangles have a simple, early style, while the buildings in the academic quadrangles are influenced by the more ornate French and Italian styles of the late 16th and 17th centuries. The houses on East Campus, which is where the students live, are made in the Georgian style. In 2011, Duke was named one of the most beautiful college sites in the United States by the magazine Travel+Leisure.[59]

In the middle of West Campus, on the highest point, is the Duke Chapel. From 1930 to 1935, Duke stone was used to build the church. It has room for 1,600 people and is one of the biggest buildings in Durham County at 210 feet (64 m).[60]

West, East, and Central Campuses

The sophomores, juniors, and some seniors live on West site, which is the main site of the university.[61] There are most of the teaching and government sites. In the middle of Main West Campus is Duke Chapel. To the south are most of the apartment quads, and to the north are the main teaching quad, the library, and the Medical Center. The 720-acre (2.9 km2) property has a road called Science Drive, where the science and engineering offices are. Craven Quad, Crowell Quad, Edens Quad, Few Quad, Keohane Quad, Kilgo Quad, and Wannamaker Quad are the private quads on West Campus.[62] West Campus has most of the campus’s restaurants and sports venues, like the famous Cameron Indoor Stadium for basketball.[63]

East school was where Duke was before it moved to Durham.[64] It is now used as a first-year school and is home to the university’s freshman dorms and several academic areas. Since the 1995–96 school year, only freshmen have stayed on East Campus, with the exception of upperclassmen who work as Resident Assistants. This was done to bring the freshmen together as a class. The campus is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from West Campus and covers 172 acres (700,000 m2).East is home to the departments of Studies, Art History, History, Cultural Anthropology, Literature, Music, Philosophy, and Women’s Studies.[64] East is home to programs like dance, theater, education, movies, and the University Writing Program. The freshman dorms, a dining hall, coffee shop, post office, Lilly Library, Baldwin Auditorium, a theater, Brodie Gym, tennis courts, a walking track, and several disc golf holes are all on the self-sufficient East Campus.[64] Alspaugh, Basset, Bell Tower, Blackwell, Brown, East House (which used to be called Aycock), Epworth, Gilbert-Addoms, Giles, West House (which used to be called Jarvis), Pegram, Randolph, Southgate, Trinity, and Wilson are the buildings on East Campus.[65] The Women’s College was in this area from 1930 to 1972. It was a short walk from downtown.[64]

Central Campus was made up of 122 acres (0.49 km2) between East and West campuses. It was home to about 1,000 sophomores, juniors, and seniors, as well as about 200 professional students who lived in double or triple flats.[66] But after the 2018–2019 school year, students could no longer live on Central Campus.[67] Central Campus is home to the Nasher Museum of Art, the Freeman Center for Jewish Life, the Center for Muslim Life, the Campus Police Department, the Office for Disability Management, a Ronald McDonald House, and management offices like Duke Residence Life and Housing Services. There are basketball courts, a sand volleyball court, a turf field, barbecue grills, picnic shelters, a building called “Devil’s Den” for general gatherings, a restaurant called “Devil’s Bistro,” a convenience store called “Uncle Harry’s,” and the Mill Village on Central Campus. The Mill Village has a gym and study rooms for groups.[66][68]

In December 2016, Duke University bought what is now called 300 Swift, an apartment building.[69] In addition to the West Campus area, Swift is where upperclassmen live. It is between East Campus and West Campus.

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