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Duke ends scholarship for Black students after SCOTUS ruling

todayApril 15, 2024

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Duke University has announced it will discontinue the Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholarship Program, which provided full-ride scholarships to select Black students, in response to the Supreme Court’s 2023 decision striking down race-based affirmative action in college admissions. The move reflects an emerging trend of universities ending race-based scholarship programs to align with the new legal landscape.

Established in 1979, the Reginaldo Howard Scholarship covered full tuition, room and board for 15-20 Black students per year who demonstrated academic excellence, leadership, and commitment to service and social justice. It honored Reginaldo “Reggie” Howard, Duke’s first Black student government president, who died in a car accident in 1976. The program provided additional funding for research and learning experiences.

Duke will replace the scholarship with the Reginaldo Howard Leadership Program, open to students of all races without a competitive selection process. The program aims to support Black academic achievement and leadership through engagement opportunities. Funding previously allocated to the scholarship will go towards this program and need-based financial aid.

Current Reginaldo Howard scholars will continue receiving funding, but no new scholarships will be awarded starting with the class of 2028. Many scholars expected the change given the Supreme Court ruling and a Title IX complaint filed against Duke’s female-only Alice Baldwin Scholars program last year. However, they expressed disappointment at needing to be consulted in the decision-making process.

“It is disheartening to hear that this program that opened the door for me to come to Duke is now being closed,” said junior Mya Harris. According to the Duke Chronicle, Senior Drew Greene said the program provided him with an invaluable community of friends and academic peers.

Reginaldo Howard scholars hope to preserve the legacy of their program’s namesake. “We just want to make sure that Reginaldo Howard stays in the conversation in any way, shape or form that we can because he was a very prominent figure in Duke’s history,” said sophomore Hannah Gedion.

The end of the Reginaldo Howard Scholarship reflects the complex impacts of the Supreme Court’s affirmative action decision as universities navigate how to legally support diversity, equity and inclusion. It remains to be seen how the new leadership program and other initiatives will work to advance those goals and honor Reginaldo Howard’s legacy at Duke.


Written by: Tarik Moody

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