Duke University Addresses Discontinuation of Scholarships for Black Students

Duke University has discontinued its full-ride scholarship program for Black students, following the 2023 Supreme Court ruling that eliminated affirmative action in admissions. According to the Duke Chronicle, the Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholarship Program for “top applicants of African descent” would no longer be available due to the verdict.

Other public colleges in the US have also stopped race-based scholarship schemes in response to the Supreme Court’s decision. Current scholars will not lose funds, but no new scholarships will be issued.

Duke University’s scholarship program for black and poor students was started in 1979. The merit scholarship required beneficiaries to demonstrate financial need and covered full tuition, lodging, and board. The fellowship is named after Reginaldo “Reggie” Howard, Duke’s first Black student government president, who died in a car accident during his sophomore year in 1976.

“It is very disheartening to hear that this program that opened the door for me to come to Duke is now being closed, essentially, even though it will take on a new form,” Mya Harris, a junior at Duke University, said.

Following the scrapping of the award, the Office of University Scholars and Fellows is collaborating with the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture to launch the Reginaldo Howard Leadership Program.

According to the university, the program will be open to all undergraduate students, regardless of race, and would “not include a competitive selection process.”

“The Reginaldo Howard Leadership Program will honor Reggie Howard’s legacy by supporting black academic excellence, intellectual community, and leadership on campus through an intentionally designed series of engagement opportunities,” wrote Candis Watts Smith, vice provost for undergraduate education, in an email sent to Reggie Scholars and alumni last week.

“This transition will continue to offer a variety of options for financial assistance to our students while honoring Mr. Howard’s legacy,” Frank Tramble, vice president for communications, marketing, and public affairs, wrote to Inside Higher Ed.

“Our commitment to diversity remains strong, including our support of HCBU graduates pursuing graduate programs at Duke and our full tuition grants for undergraduate students from North and South Carolina whose families earn less than $150,000, as well as various forms of assistance offered to students from North and South Carolina whose families earn below $65,000.”



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