Tony Brown, whose leadership courses have inspired scores of Duke University undergraduates to launch community service projects in Durham and elsewhere, will be the new leader of the Robertson Scholars Program.
The Robertson Scholars Program, created in 2000, is a merit scholarship program that each year brings 18 new scholars to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an equal number to Duke. The students are brought together for a comprehensive program of summer enrichment opportunities, mentoring, special courses and access to the resources of both universities. Robertson Scholars spend much of their time on both campuses, including one semester in residence at the other university.
The program was created in a $24 million initial gift from Julian (UNC '55) and Josie Robertson, who wanted to encourage further collaboration between the two universities. The program runs a free express bus between Duke and UNC and offers collaboration grants to faculty and students at each university to support joint programs between the two universities. The program provides full tuition, room and living stipends for the scholars chosen at UNC or full tuition at Duke.
The Robertsons have one son who graduated from Duke and another who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill.
Brown will assume his new post as president on July 1, 2007. He succeeds Eric Mlyn, who has led the program since its inception.
"We are pleased to announce that Tony Brown has agreed to become president of the Robertson Scholars Program," Julian Robertson said. "Tony is highly respected by our scholars particularly those who have known him from our freshman colloquium and by the faculties of both universities. His interests, abilities, charisma and commitment to leadership insure that he will be a great leader of our scholars.
"Leaders begat leaders and it is noteworthy in this instance to know that Eric Mlyn, our founding leader, introduced us to Tony. That knowledge gives us further confidence in our selection and to some degree assuages the loss of Eric, who is the person most responsible for the wonderful reputation our program has already achieved."
Brown joined the faculty of Duke's Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy in 1994. In 1997, he received the Howard Johnson Distinguished Teaching Award for undergraduate teaching excellence.
"Tony Brown has opened up opportunities for Duke students in his courses who developed a passion for what he calls ‘entrepreneurial learning,'" said Duke President Richard H. Brodhead. "Tony challenges his students to develop viable responses to social problems, and they respond in remarkable ways: starting the Center for Race Relations, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, SEE the World and other groups that have had a real impact on campus and in the larger world. Now Tony will bring that same dedication and enthusiasm to the Robertson Scholars Program, which has done so much to strengthen the ties between Duke and Carolina. I wish him all the best in his new position."
UNC Chancellor James Moeser said he looks forward to working with Brown.
"We are confident that Tony will fill the big shoes left by Eric Mlyn," Moeser noted. "Eric has accomplished much in establishing the Robertson as a major player among highly competitive merit-based scholarship programs in the U.S. Thanks to the Robertson Scholars Program, UNC and Duke are ever more competitive with the most selective universities in America, providing students with incredible opportunities for leadership and service in addition to their scholarly pursuits."
Brown is affiliated with the Sanford Institute's Hart Leadership Program, where he created the Enterprising Leadership Initiative, an undergraduate social entrepreneurship program that educates and empowers college students to create new initiatives that address important university and community problems.
In March 2005, the News & Observer selected him as "Tar Heel of the Week," calling him "a coach of do-gooders and critical thinkers." "Through courses on ‘social entrepreneurship' and leadership at Duke's Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Brown -- harnesses the wildly ambitious dreams and youth-fueled idealism of students to confront real social problems," the story said.
Brown's students have undertaken projects that include building two new Little League fields in Durham, creating a camp for almost 100 children in families affected by cancer and developing a plan to make it easier for frail elderly people living in Durham to receive food stamps.
Brown said he will retain his Duke faculty appointment as professor of the practice in public policy studies and initially will teach two courses on leadership and ethics to the Robertson Scholars. He may expand his teaching load at a later date. The Robertson Scholars office is on the UNC campus.
"This is a terrific opportunity to contribute to the growth of a wonderful program," Brown said. "I tell everyone that I have the best job at Duke, but this new position provides a huge opportunity to have an impact. If you look at the quality of the students, the resources and the support from these two great universities, there is great potential to encourage young people to act on their ideas."
Brown is a volunteer board member of Ten Thousand Villages, TROSA and the Center for Strategic & International Studies' Leadership Advisory Council. He also volunteers his time to advise nonprofit organizations and is involved in a variety of academic and student-related activities on campus.
Before coming to Duke, Brown had a long career in the insurance industry, including serving as the chairman and CEO of the Covenant Insurance Company for almost 10 years. Subsequently, he was the vice president for external affairs at the University of Connecticut and the chief operating officer of Credit Suisse First Boston's Equity Division.
For more information about the Robertson Scholars Program, go to http://www.robertsonscholars.org/.