Bruce and Martha Karsh to Give $20 Million to Support International Students

The gift is the Karshes' second in three years to support financial aid, bringing their total support for Duke students to $32 million.

Duke University trustee Bruce Karsh and his wife Martha will give the school $20 million in permanent endowment to support undergraduate students from other countries, President Richard H. Brodhead announced Wednesday. This gift, which includes $15 million for financial aid, is the largest donation devoted to the needs of international undergraduates in Duke's history.

The gift is the second from the Karshes to support financial aid in the past three years. In 2005, they committed $12 million principally to support Duke's need-based financial aid endowment for domestic undergraduate students, bringing their total support for students to $32 million.

"The Karshes understand the importance of a robust financial aid program and the advantages to all Duke students if the best in the world are among them," Brodhead said. "In the past, while we have had some aid for international undergraduates, we have been open mainly to those who could afford Duke. We will now be able to admit many more who require financial aid, enriching our community and advancing Duke's global connectivity."

Most of the gift, $15 million, will be used to establish an endowment that provides need-based scholarship grants to international undergraduates. Officials said the gift will enable Duke to bring the number of aided international undergraduates on campus to around 90. Currently, 416 international students are enrolled in Duke's two undergraduate schools, the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and the Pratt School of Engineering.

The balance of the gift will be used to enhance the experience of international students who receive aid. Half of this, $2.5 million, will establish an endowment to provide enhanced benefits to all aided international undergraduates, including financial assistance for travel home and an expanded orientation program when they arrive on campus.

The final $2.5 million will establish an endowment to support the Karsh International Scholars Program. This new program will provide a select group of aided international students with funding for three summers of research or research-service opportunities in Durham, throughout the U.S. or abroad, including in their home countries. The program is expected to support summer stipends for about 20 such scholars who will be selected through a competitive process.

"We expect the Karsh International Scholars Program to draw some of the most accomplished international students in the world to Duke," Brodhead said.

Duke is one of a limited number of schools with a "need-blind" admissions policy, which means that all U.S. applicants are accepted regardless of their ability to pay for college. Duke guarantees it will meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need. Financial aid packages combine grants, loans and work-study opportunities after assessing what parents and students can reasonably contribute. More than 40 percent of Duke's undergraduates receive financial aid to attend the university. In December, Duke announced significant enhancements to its financial aid program to provide access to a Duke education for lower and middle income families. (See http://news.duke.edu/2007/12/financialaid.html/)

In his 2004 inaugural address, Brodhead identified increasing Duke's endowment for financial aid as one of his top priorities. In 2005, he announced a three-year campaign, the Financial Aid Initiative, with a goal of raising $300 million in endowment by Dec. 31, 2008. (See (http://news.duke.edu/2005/12/financialaid.html) With $15 million of the Karshes' gift directed to financial aid endowment, the effort to date has raised $260 million, more than 85 percent of the goal.

"We heartily endorse Duke's commitment to a ‘need-blind' policy for domestic students, as well as its effort to increase assistance to talented students from around the world," said Bruce Karsh, a 1977 Duke graduate. "In making this gift, Martha and I seek to enhance intellectual diversity at Duke and offer the world's best and brightest students, regardless of financial circumstances, the opportunity to study at one of this nation's top universities. In addition, we hope to foster cross-cultural alliances and friendships that will both promote the power of education and encourage goodwill toward Duke and the United States throughout the world."

Bruce Karsh is president of Oaktree Capital Management, LLC in Los Angeles. He chairs the board of directors of Duke Management Company, which is responsible for managing Duke's endowment, and is a member of the Duke Board of Trustees' Executive Committee.