Duke University has discontinued their full-ride scholarship exclusively for Black students.

Existing scholars will not lose their funding, but new merit scholarships will not be given to students from the Class of 2028 and beyond.

April 13th 2024.

Duke University has discontinued their full-ride scholarship exclusively for Black students.
A prestigious full-ride scholarship to Duke University, originally designated for Black students only, will now be available to a more diverse pool of applicants. Due to the ending of affirmative action policies, the Reginaldo Howard Scholarship will be transformed into a leadership program, open to students of all races. The Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture, in collaboration with the Office of University Scholars and Fellows, will establish the Reginaldo Howard Leadership Program, which will not include a competitive selection process.

This decision to revise the scholarship comes after a number of public universities have discontinued race-based scholarship programs in response to a Supreme Court ruling in 2023. The scholarship was named after Reginaldo "Reggie" Howard, who was Duke University's first Black student government president. Tragically, Howard passed away in a car accident during his sophomore year in 1976.

Originally established in 1979, this merit scholarship was designed for Black students who demonstrated financial need. It covered full tuition, as well as room and board, for a select group of highly qualified applicants. According to an archived website, candidates for the scholarship were considered among the top applicants of African descent to Duke University. Each year, between 15 and 20 students were chosen by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions to be part of the Reginaldo Howard Scholarship Advisory Council in February. Along with financial support, the scholarship also provided opportunities for students to participate in domestic and international educational experiences, as well as independent research.

Former recipients of the scholarship are saddened by the changes being made. Junior Mya Harris expressed her disappointment, saying, "It is disheartening to see the program that opened the door for me to come to Duke now being closed, although it will still exist in a different form." Senior Drew Greene also shared his sentiments, stating that the program had given him a sense of community that he truly valued. "It has been an incredible experience, so of course, I am disappointed," he said.

Many other recipients were caught off guard by the decision, as they were informed through a brief email on April 9th. The email explained that the changes were being made due to recent developments in the legal landscape regarding race-based considerations in higher education. Sophomore Hannah Gedion described feeling powerless upon receiving the news, stating, "We were just informed as things were happening." She added, "It was a very disheartening experience."

Fortunately, current scholars will not be affected by the changes, but new merit scholarships will no longer be awarded for the Class of 2028 and beyond. Unfortunately, the Reginaldo Howard Scholarship is not the only program facing exclusionary measures. According to The College Fix, the Alice M. Baldwin Scholars Women's Leadership Program is currently under investigation for potential violations of Title IX. This came after civil rights activist Mark Perry filed a sex discrimination complaint against the program in 2023.

Perry argues that the program, which is exclusively for female students, discriminates against non-female students based on their sex and gender identity. A professor at the University of Michigan, Perry has filed over 2,000 Title IX and Title IX complaints at universities across the country. He believes that Duke University has a history of practicing a "hypocritical double standard" and has called for the university to either discontinue the Baldwin program, open it to all students regardless of sex, or establish an equivalent program for male students only.

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