Duke University, Black Students

Duke University Ends Full-Ride Scholarship Only Open To Black Students 

Affirmative action strikes again!

A full-ride scholarship to Duke University meant for Black students only will now be open to white, Hispanic, Asian, and Latino students in the wake of affirmative action ending. 

The Reginaldo Howard Scholarship, originally intended for students of “African descent,” will be turned into a leadership initiative. In partnership with the Office of University Scholars and Fellows, the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture will establish the Reginaldo Howard Leadership Program — open to all undergraduate students, regardless of race, and “not including a competitive selection process.”

Revising the scholarship follows an influx of public universities ending race-based scholarship programs in response to the Supreme Court’s 2023 ruling. The scholarship was named after Reginaldo “Reggie” Howard, Duke’s first Black student government president, who passed away following a car accident during his sophomore year in 1976. 

Established in 1979, the merit scholarship required students to present financial need and covered full tuition — room and board included — for a special selection of Black students. According to an archived website, scholarship “candidates are considered to be among the top applicants of African descent to Duke University.” 

Between 15 and 20 students are hand-picked by the ​​Office of Undergraduate Admissions to the Reginaldo Howard Scholarship Advisory Council in February of every year. Aside from tuition, the scholarship provided opportunities and funding for other activities, including domestic and international education experiences and independent research.

Former recipients were sad to hear about the changes that helped so many receive their education.

“It is very much 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,” Junior Mya Harris said.

Senior Drew Greene said the program gave him a community with which he enjoys spending time.

“It has been a fantastic experience, so of course, in that regard, I am gutted.”

Other recipients felt blindsided by the decision after being informed on Apr. 9 via a summarized email explaining the changes occurred “in light of changes to the legal landscape related to race-based considerations in higher education.” “We were just kind of told what was happening as it was happening,” Hannah Gedion, a sophomore, said. 

“We felt very powerless, to be honest with you.”

Current scholars are not at risk of losing funding; however, new merit scholarships will no longer be awarded for the Class of 2028 and beyond.

Sadly, the Howard scholarship isn’t the only one facing exclusionary measures. According to The College Fix, the Alice M. Baldwin Scholars Women’s Leadership Program is under a federal investigation after civil rights activist Mark Perry filed a Title IX sex discrimination complaint in 2023.

Perry accuses the program of violating Title IX as it “operates exclusively for female students and illegally excludes and discriminates against non-female students based on their sex and gender identity.” 

The University of Michigan professor has filed over 2,000 Title IX and Title IX complaints at universities nationwide. After claiming Duke holds a pattern of a “hypocritical double standard,” Perry said the Home of the Blue Devils would have to either discontinue the Baldwin program, open the program to all students regardless of sex, or set up a program equal to a single-sex, male-only program.