Originally known as Trinity College, Duke University was moved to Durham, North Carolina in 1892. In 1924, James Buchanan Duke, the owner of a tobacco conglomerate, established the Duke Endowment with the aim of serving North Carolinians by supporting higher education, health care, and spiritual life, and the school was renamed in honor of James’ father, Washington Duke. Much of what accounts for the present-day campus was built following the establishment of the $40 million Duke Endowment.
The institution’s development owes much to the Duke family, as well as considerable support from alumni. The Campaign for Duke fundraising effort, which ran from 1998 to 2003, took in $2.36 billion, making it the fifth-largest campaign in the history of American higher education.
Duke’s enormous 9,350-acre campus includes the lush 7,050-acre Duke Forest. There are 220 buildings on campus, which is divided into four areas: West, East, Central, and the Medical Center. West Campus is commonly referred to as the Gothic Wonderland owing to its architectural style. All sophomores are housed here in addition to some of the juniors and seniors. Most academic and administrative buildings are located on West Campus as well, with the Duke Chapel residing at the center of campus.
Georgian architecture is more common on East Campus, where only freshmen live. This area was the site of the women’s college until 1972.
Central campus is home to some juniors, seniors and professional students.
Duke Forest is a unique addition to an already vibrant campus. Just past West Campus, the forest is used for research, ecosystem study, and preservation. The Duke Lemur Center is a large sanctuary containing over 300 different types of endangered primates.
The growth of Durham, North Carolina was due in large part to the development of both Duke University and the Bull Durham tobacco company. Durham is North Carolina’s fourth-most populous city, with 209,009 residents.
More tired and neglected than sleepy and bucolic, Durham is not known as a college town. The city has a rich but volatile history, from its roots in the antebellum tobacco industry to its 20th-century prosperity as an epicenter of African-American culture and business. These days, the economic depression is noticeable (crime against students is not entirely uncommon), and Duke students seldom venture very far beyond campus property.
Durham is an interesting place if one takes the time to get to know it, and there are plenty of community outreach opportunities. There’s plenty to do in the Greater Triangle area, encompassing Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill. Rolling Stone once called the Triangle “one of the best places to get a musical education” due to the profusion of live music venues and performances. Chapel Hill is just ten minutes away and a popular destination for shopping and going out on the weekends.
Weeks before major men’s basketball home games, Duke students begin to gather outside the stadium in K-ville (named for coach Mike Krzyzewski), a tradition that is now legendary in college sports lore. Fans set up and sleep in tents according to strict rules established by the student government in order to gain admittance to the game. Electric outlets have been installed in lampposts and the area has been equipped with wireless internet access to encourage studying.
Students sometimes joke about the four unofficial graduation requirements: hooking up in the library, scaling the Baldwin Auditorium dome, exploring the subterranean tunnels of East Campus, and driving the wrong way around the traffic circle.
After Duke beats UNC at home, students run over to West Campus to start a huge bonfire composed of everything from newspapers to furniture. The administration is has taken precautions to reduce the risk posed by this tradition, including having firefighters on the scene and creating designated bonfire pits.
Melinda Gates (1986) is cofounder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Grant Hill (1994) is a 7-time NBA All-Star.
Tucker Max (2001) is the author of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
Richard Nixon (1937) was the 37th President of the United States.
Ron Paul (1961) is a US Representative from Texas and 2008 Republican presidential primary candidate.
Elizabeth Spiers (1999) is the founding editor of online gossip blog Gawker.
Duke basketball is somewhat of an institution in college sports: the Blue Devils are perennially vying for the national championship, the program has churned out nine National Players of the Year, and countless former Dukies have made the jump to the NBA, including Elton Brand, Grant Hill, and Shane Battier. For many undergrads, no home game is complete without tailgating, bonfires, and war paint – many even camp out in K-ville outside of Cameron Indoor Stadium prior to home games.
While the men’s basketball team usually draws the most attention on campus, the other Blue Devils squads deserve recognition as well. Duke’s varsity teams have won nine NCAA championships: five for the women’s golf team, three for men’s basketball, and one for men’s soccer. In each of the past ten years, Duke has finished among the top 30 for the the NACDA Director’s Cup, which measures the overall success of an athletic program.
The Duke athletic program does a good job of helping students balance academics with athletics. According to an NCAA evaluation, Duke’s student-athlete graduation rate of 91% is the highest among all participating institutions.
In May 2006, Duke researchers mapped the final human chromosome, completing the Human Genome Project.
Duke’s rivalry with UNC has led people to classify the shades of blue that compose each of the schools’ official colors: lighter blue is “Carolina blue,” and darker blue is “Duke blue.”
Duke ranks fifth among private universities in the number of Rhodes Scholars it has produced.
In 2006, Duke researchers developed a blueprint for a device that hides objects by bending electromagnetic waves, in essence creating an “invisibility cloak.”
85% of Duke undergraduates reside on campus; in fact, the university requires that students live on campus for their first three years. The 14 dorms on East Campus are among the oldest at Duke, and are home to most freshmen, who sometimes lament the lack of air conditioning. Epworth, the oldest dorm, houses only 50 students, while Gilbert-Addoms holds 190 residents.
Sophomores live on West Campus. 25 special living groups, including learning communities and fraternities, are also found on West Campus.
Central Campus is composed of 45 apartment buildings in which juniors, seniors, and professional students reside. All apartments are fully furnished and range from one- to three-bedrooms.