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Robertson Scholars Bus Links Duke, UNC

From the Duke News Service

August 31, 2001

Ten miles still separate Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but a soon-to-be-launched bus service is expected to - symbolically and otherwise - help bring the two schools closer together.

The bus service, scheduled to run every 30 minutes between the two campuses, will be available to students, faculty and employees of both universities. The service is fully funded by the new Robertson Scholars Program, a collaborative academic program between Duke and UNC that will begin this fall with 30 first-year undergraduate students. The unusual program calls for the Robertson Scholars - 15 will matriculate at UNC each year and an equal number will matriculate at Duke - to take classes at both campuses and to spend a semester living on the other campus.

The bus service, to begin Aug. 21, will be officially launched with a ceremony Aug. 31 that will involve UNC Chancellor James Moeser, Duke President Nannerl O. Keohane and others boarding the bus on the Duke campus in front of Duke Chapel and riding the 10.7-mile route to the Morehead Planetarium lot on the UNC campus.

"We fully expect this remarkable academic program to build on the many collaborative relationships that already exist between our two fine institutions and to promote interaction between our student bodies," Keohane said. "The bus service is a vital part of making this happen."

Moeser agreed. "The buses will help foster stronger bonds between both of our campus communities and represent another exciting milestone for the Robertson Scholars Program."

Even though the $340,000 cost of the bus service is being picked up by the Robertson Scholars Program, program director Eric Mlyn said the service is available to all university community members who have proper identification.

"I have heard from many people on both campuses who have expressed their excitement and support for this service, and who look forward to using it in order to have access to the best that is available on both campuses," Mlyn said. "We welcome them on the buses."

The Robertson Scholars Program was launched last year through a $24 million gift to the two universities by New York investment manager Julian H. Robertson Jr. and his wife Josie. Julian Robertson, who grew up in Salisbury, is a 1955 business administration graduate from UNC, and Josie Robertson is a member of Carolina's Board of Visitors. One of their three sons, Julian Spencer Robertson, graduated in 1998 from Duke and is now a teacher in New York public schools. Another son, Alexander Tucker Robertson, graduated from UNC in the spring.

The program will provide full tuition, room and living stipends at UNC and full tuition at Duke. It also will provide laptop computers to all students in the program, special seminars in the scholars' freshman and senior years to be taught by faculty from both campuses, access to service learning opportunities, a pre-enrollment retreat and bi-weekly dinners during the fall semester to encourage acclimation to the cultures of both campuses and three summers of support for service, travel and research. Each student also will have access to the institutions' complementary programs as well courses that are not available on their home campus.

The first group of Robertson Scholars was chosen from 84 recruited finalists who spent a weekend at both schools last spring. Eventually, there will be 120 Robertson Scholars on the two campuses.

The bus service, which can accommodate handicapped passengers, is initially set to run from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday; from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays. The buses, to be operated by Duke Transit, can hold approximately 50 passengers.

Mlyn said the new bus service will serve as an important link between the two schools. "The Duke/UNC Express Bus is a pivotal element in the fulfillment of the vision of Julian Robertson to build bridges between Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill," Mlyn said. "By providing convenient reliable and free transportation for all members of the UNC and Duke communities, we are confident that students, faculty and staff will be able to take full advantage of the academic and cultural offerings on both campuses."

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