Duke gets $50M donation for financial aid

Posted December 5, 2011

— A Duke University trustee has donated $50 million to the school to create an endowment for need-based financial aid for undergraduates, Duke President Richard Brodhead announced Monday.

This gift by Bruce Karsh and his wife, Martha, is the largest individual donation to support financial aid in Duke’s history.

“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 in a statement. “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 donation includes $30 million for U.S. students and $20 million for international students. More than half of Duke's undergraduates receive some form of financial assistance from the university.

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, a network of college-track public elementary and secondary schools in underserved communities nationwide.

The gift will also 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 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 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.

“(Financial aid) 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,” Bruce Karsh, a 1977 Duke graduate, said in a statement.

“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," he said.

Karsh is president of Oaktree Capital Management, a global investment management company he co-founded in Los Angeles in 1995. He also is chairman of DUMAC LLC, which manages Duke's endowment.

Martha Karsh is an attorney and co-founder of Clark & Karsh, an architecture, design and development firm in Los Angeles.


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  • Shamrock Dec 7, 2011

    "But, honestly why do we praise people for donating money to a school comprised of the most privileged in the state?"

    Just because someone goes to Duke does not mean that come from a privilideged backgound. Many work hard and spend many years paying back those loans.

  • dldobbins Dec 6, 2011

    WoW!! Great!! 2.5 more people can attend Duke tuition-free! Just's a good thing!! $50 million for education.

  • tiredoftheignorance Dec 5, 2011


    They are giving the money to Duke precisely so non-privileged people will have the opportunity to attend Duke...

  • Ripcord Dec 5, 2011

    Just goes to show that those evil 1 percenters aren't doing their fair share... or something ... right?

  • Boogalooboy Dec 5, 2011

    guess if it's yours you can give it to whomever with whatever strings attached..

  • ecualumni1982 Dec 5, 2011

    Duke from my calculation has acquired close to 100 Million in donations over the past year, the advancement or donations office is the bomb. But, honestly why do we praise people for donating money to a school comprised of the most privileged in the state? Its like walking past the thousands of average college students at the smaller universities who are starving to feed the fat kid with the Rolex.This amount of money at Duke won't even be noticed, but at a smaller college it would really make a difference.

  • Guy Dec 5, 2011

    It's great for everyone but I feel for the American students who are passed up for the international students. Should not most of this money go to educate our American students ?

  • junkmail7276 Dec 5, 2011

    Yeah, you probably should've gone to Duke.

  • fishon Dec 5, 2011

    The Occupy movement targets those that use their money to subvert government

    Not one of the protesters I saw on numerous videos could explain why they were there as well as your few choice words.

  • Tarheel born Dec 5, 2011

    I might readily agree with I40 warrior if I was a financial genius. BUT, nevertheless it is a magnanimus gesture for the benefit of the student body.

    GO HEELS!!