Hello fellow alumni and friends,
Every day since I first set foot on campus in 1997, I have felt the warmth of being part of the Duke family. It is amazing how quickly my allegiances for other schools prior to college changed almost instantly, and even my favorite color suddenly started to look more like Duke blue. This is a special place. All of us affiliated with Duke are forever part of that inclusive family. That includes not just students and alumni, but parents, siblings, children, faculty, and staff of the University as well.
On the day I graduated, I remember feeling a sense of pride for graduating and a humbleness at being affiliated with such amazing people for the rest of my life. But that wasn’t the only strong feeling that coursed through me–I also felt a sense of wondering how to keep Duke in my life and stay connected. How do I give back to honor all that Duke had given me? As more time has passed since that graduation day in 2001, I have realized there are so many ways to keep Duke in our lives and remain an active member of the Duke family. Some, myself included, come back and work at Duke. Some make a point to engage by making Duke their philanthropic priority–taking advantage of the multiplier effect that giving to Duke has by empowering and enabling the leaders of tomorrow. Others engage through mentoring, board activities, or attending and watching Duke basketball. And still others wear the love for Duke proudly in our daily lives, as I am reminded by my son Joseph who has worn a Duke shirt EVERY day for 2,620 days in a row!
Below are some stories of how some alumni, parents, and friends have chosen to stay connected and engaged with the Duke family. I hope you enjoy and consider how you would like to engage more with Duke moving forward. I recently heard a joke that I will leave everyone with: How do you tell if someone went to Duke…? Just wait, they’ll tell you.
Thank you for making the Duke Family so connected, inclusive, and strong.
Jim Ruth E'01
Associate Dean & Director of Development
Duke Pratt School of Engineering
Duke has taken full advantage of the LORD 100 Challenge funds and Duke distributing full and partial scholarships to undergraduates to help deserving students afford the cost of attendance. Since 2019, more than 22 amazing Pratt donors have established or added to an existing scholarship. This crucial program was made possible by the sale of the LORD Corporation, leading to a $261 million distribution to fund education and research at Duke and three other leading institutions. The $50 million match was set by Duke to leverage an additional $50 million in philanthropic support for this need-based challenge fund.
“My philanthropic works are deeply rooted in a debt of gratitude for the many blessings bestowed upon me, starting with the gift of life itself. I’ve always been a recipient of full-merit scholarships throughout my academic career, but I’ve always viewed such opportunities as a trust to pay it forward rather than something I was entitled to. This perspective shaped my career endeavors in such a way that I strive to be in a position that allows me to give back more than what I take or have taken from society. Establishing the Abraham Paul Zunzu Ng’hwani scholarship fund is a testament to the values that faith and my wonderful parents had instilled in me–it’s the least I can do to honor their legacy.”
“My husband and I both benefited greatly from our education and experiences at Duke. We feel that our time at Duke opened doors for us that continue to pay dividends in every chapter of our lives.
Being able to give others the same opportunity through financial aid scholarship is very important to us. It enables Duke and the Duke community to recruit the most qualified, deserving and diverse pool of students, and invest in the future of these students from an early age.
Financial scholarships are a critical part of resolving disparities around access to quality education. It’s important to do our part to break down barriers currently limiting access to higher education, and level the playing field for students from underprivileged backgrounds.”
Pratt Launches Blue Sky Fund with $350,000 in Pledges
The Blue Sky Fund was launched in 2022 as an expendable funding source that will be used at the discretion of Dean Jerry Lynch to support new high-risk/high-reward ideas in the school.
This type of flexibility is priceless to a dean, and it will enable Jerry to launch new, unbudgeted initiatives with confidence to test their viability. Some examples of potential BSF expenditures including launching a summer program in San Francisco for undergraduate students studying FinTech, providing student summer stipends for international or work experiences, recruiting adjunct faculty members in key areas, adding to recruiting packages, covering shortfall for impactful programs such as First-Year Design, and funding new student clubs and programs.
Spring Board of Visitors Meeting
The group of more than 50 alumni, parents, and friends who comprise the Pratt Board of Visitors were welcomed to campus amidst beautiful spring weather from April 20-22, 2023. The weekend kicked off with a joint social between Trinity, WIN, and Pratt Board members at the Duke Quantum Center in downtown Durham. After sharing in food, drink, and community with our colleagues in Trinity, groups took turns touring the facility that is one of the world’s leading research and teaching centers in the growing field of quantum computing.
Friday began with Dean Jerry Lynch sharing the recent successes and growth of the School along with his strategic vision for its growth in key strategic areas of education and research. The board then heard updates about how Duke is positioned to become a leading figure in genome engineering, the growing and ambitious industry-relations plans of our Affiliates Program, and the continued successes provided by our Planned Giving program. Dean Gary Bennett of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences as well as Mike Elko, Duke University’s Head Football Coach, engaged the board with inspirational talks about how they motivate their teams.
But the visit wasn’t all business–the board also got to enjoy a variety of special events, from a student design fair that showed off the innovative spirit of our students to the Engineering Awards Banquet, which featured some fantastic food and recognition of truly outstanding colleagues and alumni.
A big thank you is extended to everyone who attended the meeting for their support and enthusiasm. Pratt received a great amount of positive feedback about where the school is heading, as well as some fantastic ideas on how to further improve our undergraduate education, research, and entrepreneurial efforts.
The Pratt Parent Circle continues to thrive as Pratt’s most engaged and supportive parent group, who are strongly committed to helping the school ensure the broad intellectual and personal growth of students. This spring, Pratt Parent Circle members joined a luncheon in Mumma Commons titled “Insight for Parents: How Students Are Maximizing Their Time at Duke to Prep for the Future.” Many parents built up an appetite during the event that preceded the luncheon, where they built Tensegrity Towers under the guidance of Professors Henri Gavin and David Schaad.
Following lunch, Professors Becky Simmons and Neal Simmons, and Director of Corporate & Industry Relations Kirsten Shaw, provided insight about internships, entrepreneurship, mentoring, and career resources at Duke. Mechanical engineering senior and Goldwater Scholar Tanner Zachem served as the moderator for the interactive session.
Annual Fund contributions provide flexibility that is critical to realizing our ambitious vision for the future of Duke Engineering education and research. Not only do they enable us to provide personalized, experiential educational programs, they also support scholarships and financial aid, opportunities for the 60% of students who participate in faculty-mentored research, the ability to recruit and retain the very best faculty, and student clubs and design experiences. From Duke Engineering's signature First-Year Design course to lab-based research and travel-based international development, the Annual Fund supports everything that makes a Duke Engineering education worth raving about.
Goal by June 30, 2023: $4,200,000
Paid as of April 12, 2023: $2,483,068
Alumni participation goal: 38%
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