Duke University

Duke University is a private research university located in Durham, North Carolina

Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present-day town of Trinity in 1838, Duke University moved to Durham in 1892. In 1924, tobacco and electric power industrialist James B. Duke established The Duke Endowment, at which time the institution changed its name to honor his deceased father, Washington Duke.

The university’s campus spans over 8,600 acres (35 km2) on three contiguous campuses in Durham as well as a marine lab in Beaufort. Duke’s main campus—designed largely by African American architect Julian Abele—incorporates Gothic architecture with the 210-foot (64 m) Duke Chapel at the campus’ center and highest point of elevation. The freshmen-populated East Campus contains Georgian-style architecture, while the main Gothic-style West Campus 1.5 miles away is adjacent to the Medical Center.

Duke’s student body consists of 6,471 undergraduates and 8,379 graduate and professional students (as of fall 2014). The university “has historical, formal, on-going, and symbolic ties with the United Methodist Church, but is an independent and non-sectarian institution.” According to the institution’s bylaws, an aim of Duke University is to “assert a faith in the eternal union of knowledge and religion set forth in the teachings and character of Jesus Christ”. As such, twenty-four out of thirty-six University Trustees are elected from the “North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church; twelve by the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church”. Former Dean of Duke Chapel, Sam Wells and Michael Schoenfeld, Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations, have stated that the Annual Conferences of the United Methodist Church do not have any editorial control over the selections and that “there is no religious test for trustees,” stating that Duke’s ties to the United Methodist Church are “benign and benevolent” and “primarily historical and symbolic.”


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