New Nakayama Scholars Program to Support Students Seeking to Enter Public Service

A new scholarship will provide tuition assistance for five seniors who plan to enter public service following graduation.  The Nakayama Public Service Scholarship is part of the university’s efforts to encourage students to use their Duke experience to engage with the large challenges facing communities around the world.

Program leaders said the scholarship defines public service broadly and imagines a variety of pathways toward civic engagement. “I think everyone can agree we need to do more to support students with the desire to serve in public service after Duke,” said Chris Simmons, associate vice president for government relations, who will direct the Nakayama Scholars Program.

The Nakayamas “Our country and world are looking for leaders in education, the non-profit sector, the military and local, federal and international government agencies to guide us forward with creativity and thoughtfulness.  We hope students from all majors consider applying and we look forward to helping those talented students connect what they are passionate about to public service and support them in their pursuit of such work, after they graduate.”

The scholarship includes a year of programming targeted to guide the students in fulfilling their interest in public service. To be eligible, seniors must be in the top 10 percent of their class. The program will be administered through the Office of Undergraduate Scholars and Fellows, which will allow the Nakayama Scholars to participate in the wider community of merit scholars at Duke.

“The Nakayama Scholars Program will help Duke fulfill its mission to produce graduates who can be committed citizens of the world,” said Duke President Vincent Price. “I’m excited that this program will add to our ability to inspire students to consider public service and give them opportunities to change lives and benefit communities, both local and global. I am grateful to the Nakayama family for their support, and to the members of the advisory committee for their guidance in bringing this vision to life.” 

Applications for next year are now being accepted through March 15. An online information session will be held at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 3. More information about the application process can be found on the scholarship website.

A committee of faculty, staff and alumni has been appointed and will be responsible for attracting students to apply and working with the selected students to develop programming. Simmons, the program director, said the members bring a strong background in promoting public service in education, medicine, business, public policy and other fields.

“The advisory board will give the program a strong start,” Simmons said. “The members have great experience in integrating public service into academic programs and will give every scholar an opportunity to thrive.”

In addition to Simmons, the board includes:

  • Ronnie Chatterji, Mark Burgess & Lisa Benson-Burgess Distinguished Professor, Fuqua School of Business
  • Andrew Cunningham,’08, Global Lead for Education, Aga Khan Foundation
  • Kristin Goss, Kevin D. Gorter Professor of Public Policy and Political Science and Director, Duke in DC  
  • Charmaine Royal, Professor of African & African American Studies, Biology, Global Health, and Family Medicine & Community Health
  • Martin Smith, Dean of Academic Affairs at Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and Assistant Professor of the Practice of Education

Babs Wise, director of Nationally Competitive Scholarships in OUSF, will serve as program administrator.

The program is funded by an endowment made by Yukio and Toshiko Nakayama, both now deceased. Yukio Nakayama is a Duke graduate of the Class of 1941, who served in the US military during World War II.

For the rest of his life, Nakayama dedicated his life to public service, in both a long career as director of Weapons Program Evacuation and Management Systems in US Naval Ordinance, and in helping numerous young people further their education. He passed away at the age of 90 on April 4, 2010.

After Toshiko Nakayama's passing in 2013 at the age of 93, their estate helped to establish three endowments at Duke.