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Duke University Ends Full-ride Scholarship Program For Select Black Students After Supreme Court Ruling

Duke University

One more higher education institute has made changes following the 2023 Supreme Court ruling that ended affirmative action in admissions.


Duke University has officially stopped its Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholarship Program, according to the student publication The Chronicle.


The merit scholarship since its inception in 1979 was created for Black undergraduates, some of whom needed to demonstrate the need for financial assistance. The scholarship covered 100% of the cost as well as room and board.


“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,” said Mya Harris, a current junior at the university.


The scholarship was named the way it was to honor Duke’s first Black student government president, Reginaldo “Reggie” Harris, whose life was cut short in his sophomore year due to an automobile accident in 1976.


Although the original program will be no more, the Office of University Scholars and Fellows will partner with the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture to create the Reginaldo Howard Leadership Program, and this will be open to all undergraduate students.


According to the outlet, the new scholarship installment will not have 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 April 9 email to Reggie Scholars and alumni. 


The decision to rid of the scholarship was made “in light of changes to the legal landscape related to race-based considerations in high education.”


Roughly 15 to 20 Black students were brought on as Reggie Scholars. And current Scholars are concerned about not being a part of Duke’s decision to terminate the program.


“We were just kind of told what was happening as it was happening,” said sophomore Hanna Gedion. “We felt very powerless, to be honest with you.”


But the move was anticipated following the Supreme Court affirmative action ruling that led to universities halting any initiatives in place that could assist students from underserved communities.

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