Of the 22 Angier B. Duke Memorial Scholarships offered this year to incoming freshmen, eight were accepted.
This yield is a decrease from the 15 students who accepted the 23 scholarships offered in 2012, said Alex Rosenberg, director of the A.B. Duke Scholarship Program.
The A.B. Duke scholarship covers full tuition, room and board and mandatory fees for four years at Duke. In addition, the recipients are awarded a six-week study abroad program at the University of Oxford in England. The Duke Office of News and Communications reported that A.B. scholars are also offered up to $5,000 for research or other educational enrichment programs. An A.B. Duke scholarship is worth more than $200,000 per student during their four-year career at Duke.
“The number of A.B. Duke scholars has fluctuated between eight and 16 over the past decade,” said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations. “This year the students who chose not to accept our offer all enrolled in either Harvard, Stanford, Princeton or MIT, whose financial aid programs in recent years have matched, or in some cases exceeded, even those of the A.B. Duke program.”
Rosenberg said that the program’s leaders are not concerned with the decline in scholarship yield. He said fewer students who were offered the scholarship required financial aid than in past years. Many did not need the merit scholarship to pay for college.
“Basically, the A.B. Duke Scholarship is competing for the first time with other universities, not on financial value but on the value of the program,” Rosenberg said.
He added that one of the students who was offered an A.B. scholarship wanted to take a gap year, and Princeton University offered to finance his activities during that year but Duke could not.
Rosenberg said that potential students could have been deterred from choosing Duke because the weather on campus was “horrible” during Blue Devil Days. He added that the bombings at the Boston marathon could have resulted in an increase in students choosing to go to Harvard. Harvard was forced to cancel its accepted students weekend following the bombings.
“Students who would have otherwise spent the weekend at Harvard and seen how the reality was different from the ideal image of Harvard, were unable to visit, and made their choice based on an image in their head,” Rosenberg said.
He said that often smaller classes of A.B. scholars perform better in gaining international recognition than larger classes.
The classes of 2011 and 2012 each had nine A.B. scholars, and included one Rhodes Scholar, three Marshall Scholars, three Faculty Scholars, three Goldwater winners and three Fulbright winners, said Melissa Malouf, director of the office of undergraduate scholars and fellows.
In total, the scholarship’s alumni include 18 Rhodes Scholars and 13 Marshall Scholars, including the renowned writer and Duke English professor Reynolds Price, who passed away last year; Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Anne Tyler; NASA project scientist Hal Weaver; and Dr. Lynt Johnson, chief of transplant surgery at Georgetown University Medical Center.
She added that the program generally tries to attract 15 scholars, but they are “thrilled” with the eight that they have.
“We have no reason not to expect great things from the class of 2017,” Malouf said. “In other words, quantity is not the same as quality.”
Schoenfeld said he is happy with the selection of students that have accepted their scholarship offers.
“The students who will be attending are exemplary additions to Duke University and the A.B. Duke tradition, and we look forward to welcoming them to campus,” he said.