Bruce and Martha Karsh Support Duke

Duke University trustee Bruce Karsh and his wife Martha have donated $50 million to Duke for a permanent endowment to support need-based financial aid for undergraduate students from the United States and other countries, President Richard H. Brodhead announced Monday. This gift is the largest donation made by individuals to support financial aid in the university's history. The gift includes $30 million for U.S. students and $20 million for international students. Including this new contribution, the Karshes have given $85 million for undergraduate financial aid at Duke. More than half of Duke's undergraduates receive some form of financial assistance from the university.

"We are deeply grateful to the Karshes for this remarkable gift and for the way they have championed one of the university's highest priorities," Brodhead said. "This gift helps safeguard our commitment to keeping a Duke education accessible to students from a wide range of backgrounds, even as the economy continues to recover. It also opens our door further to the best and brightest students from around the world, creating a richer learning environment for all Duke students."

The Karshes have designated $5 million to create a "KIPP at Duke" endowment that will provide financial aid for tuition, program enrichment, advising and other support for graduates of the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) who are accepted and matriculate at Duke. KIPP is a network of college-preparatory public schools in underserved communities throughout the nation.

The gift will add $15 million to the existing Karsh Scholarship Fund for financial aid for U. S. students, and will also create a $10 million dollar-for-dollar challenge to encourage other donors to establish their own named, need-based undergraduate scholarships for U.S. students.

The remaining $20 million will be dedicated to expanding and strengthening the Karsh International Scholars Program, which officially launched this year. This gift doubles their 2008 gift of $20 million that established the program.

The first group of Karsh International Scholars includes nine students from Nepal, Ethiopia, Kenya, Pakistan, Spain, Ukraine, Ecuador, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. In addition to having their full financial need met, Karsh Scholars are eligible for summer research funding to enhance their educational experience.

"Our first group of Karsh Scholars are exceptional students, and I'm excited to see that the program will grow as a result of the Karshes' newest gift," said Ana P. Barros, faculty adviser to the program and professor of civil and environmental engineering at Duke. "This gift will give Duke an advantage among top U.S. universities in attracting top international students to study here. It sends a message to potential applicants out there who dream of a U.S. education but who may think that it is impossible to afford. This says Duke can be the place for them, and we are committed to their success."

Duke is one of a small number of universities with a "need-blind" admissions policy, which means that the university does not consider an applicant's ability to pay for college when making admissions decisions. In addition, Duke guarantees to meet the full demonstrated financial need of admitted U.S. students. Financial aid packages combine grants, loans and work-study opportunities after assessing what parents and students can reasonably contribute.

Duke also offers need-based aid to international students, and the Karshes' gift will enable the university to provide assistance to more students from other countries.

Alison Rabil, Duke's assistant vice provost and director of financial aid, said the gift will make an enduring difference for students and their families.

"Donor-funded scholarship endowments play a key role in helping Duke meet the rising cost of financial aid. We've seen a marked increase in student need in recent years," she said. "It's extraordinary that we have donors like the Karshes who are willing to make an investment like this, which will benefit students and their families for generations to come."

Bruce Karsh, a 1977 Duke graduate, said he and Martha believe that financial aid is an investment in people that can be a "genuine game changer."

"It makes a crucial difference to the individual recipients and enhances the intellectual and cultural diversity of the university community. Moreover, it helps develop the pool of talent needed to grapple with an increasingly complex and global world," Karsh said.

"Martha and I believe strongly that motivated, talented students-- whether from underserved communities in the U.S or from around the globe -- should be able to attend a great university like Duke, which can nurture their talent and help them reach their potential. We know Duke shares the same deep commitment. We feel fortunate to be able to make a substantial gift that supports this shared value and that will help Duke deliver on its promise to meet the financial needs of all U.S. students and as many international students as possible."