Duke University has received a $5 million gift to establish an endowed scholarship fund to support graduate students at Duke Divinity School, President Vincent E. Price said Tuesday.
The Henry-Williams Scholarships were established through a gift from A. Morris Williams Jr., a Duke alumnus, trustee emeritus and former chair of the Duke Divinity School Board of Visitors.
The fund will support whole or partial scholarships for Duke Divinity graduate students who plan to enter parish-based ministry to deliver pastoral care for a church community. This fund is established in the spirit of the Bible verse “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6:31).
“We are so grateful for Morris Williams’ generosity, which will help future leaders attend Duke Divinity and prepare for service to their communities,” said Price. “The Henry-Williams Scholarship Fund is merely the latest reflection of his commitment to Duke’s mission of supporting our region and the world.”
The scholarships honor the memory of Stuart Henry (1914-97), a scholar and teacher at Duke Divinity, as well as the legacy of Williams and his family.
“Morris Williams’ gift recognizes the profound impact of Duke faculty as teachers and mentors throughout our students’ lives,” said Divinity Dean L. Gregory Jones, the Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams Jr. Distinguished Professor of Theology and Christian Ministry. “These scholarships are an investment in the education of Duke Divinity students, and we hope to foster similarly meaningful relationships for generations to come.”
As a student, Williams took Henry’s course on religious themes in American literature, which led to a lifelong friendship. Henry, an ordained Presbyterian pastor, taught at Duke Divinity as a professor (1958-85) and as professor emeritus until his passing in 1997. Henry was admired by students for his interpretations of American and global culture through the lens of Christian religion.
“By establishing these scholarships, I recognize the importance of parish ministry in expanding the vision of love and peace for all people,” said Williams. “Duke University has played a major role in my life, so I am very happy to make this gift to Duke.”
Williams has a long history at, and in support of, Duke University and Duke Divinity School. His previous gifts to Duke Divinity include an additional $4 million for professorships, student scholarships and the Duke Divinity School Annual Fund. In 2013, Williams gave $5 million to establish the Morris Williams Track and Field Stadium, home of the Duke men’s and women’s varsity track and field teams.
Williams received a bachelor’s degree in 1962 from Duke’s Trinity College of Arts & Sciences and a master’s degree in 1963 from Duke’s Graduate School. Several members of his family are also Duke alumni: his late father, A. Morris Williams Sr., Duke Divinity, ’32; his late wife Ruth, Duke Woman’s College, ’63; and daughters Susan and Joanne, Trinity College, ’85 and ’87, respectively.