My Giving Story: Ron Temple

From his office in New York’s famed 30 Rock building, Ron Temple ’90 has an amazing view of the colorful living tapestry below. And thanks to a Duke education he calls “transformational,” Temple also has an elevated ability to see shades of gray in a world that seems increasingly polarized.

“In my experience, black-and-white opinions are often held most strongly by people who have not taken the time to challenge themselves or their views,” Temple says. “I entered Duke with strong opinions, but left with more modulated, nuanced views. The way I approach a question or problem was changed by my time at Duke and my exposure to people with different values and views.”

Duke also recast Temple into a lifetime learner and a passionate advocate for both undergraduate and graduate education. He says that the university taught him the value of hard work, intellectual curiosity, and high ethical standards—values that have carried him through adult life thus far. It also instilled a strong sense of responsibility for paying back the generosity he received as a student.

“None of what I experienced would have been possible without sacrifices of time and money from my own parents and the many people who attended Duke before me,” Temple says. “It takes all of us to realize the potential of Duke and of every student who attends Duke.”

Temple’s start at the university was full of potential and excitement. He attended the Duke Talent Identification Program (TIP) for three years and graduated early from high school to matriculate at Duke. He immediately fell in love with Duke because the “plethora of choices for extracurricular and curricular exploration was even better than I had imagined.”

Temple went on to become the first in his immediate family to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees. He served on the board of visitors at Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, and was a charter member of the board of The Graduate School. His deep volunteer involvement at Duke led him to endow a graduate fellowship. He and his husband, Derick Brown, made a bequest in their wills to support the fellowship and additional planned gifts to benefit the Duke Financial Economics Center. The couple continues to support Duke TIP.

Why did you decide to attend Duke?

I recognized that Duke offered a vast array of opportunities to expand my horizons well beyond what I had realized was possible before that time.

How would you describe your student experience?

Exceptionally fortunate to have been able to attend. My eyes were opened to the perspectives of other people and cultures that I had never encountered before. Many of the views I brought with me to Duke were adjusted or even discarded by the time I left.

Why did you and Derick decide to direct your support to graduate students, the Duke Financial Economics Center, and Duke TIP?

As the first in both of our immediate families to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees, we want our gifts to eliminate financial obstacles to higher education for talented students. For many talented young people, college and graduate school are beyond their financial reach. We want to play as big a role as we can in eliminating this obstacle to higher education.

My time at Duke led me to have an increased appreciation for the humanities as a channel for better understanding the life experiences of other people. The Duke Financial Economics Center support is intended to ensure that Duke students are as competitive as possible in the financial industry while also still earning a strong liberal arts education. The Duke TIP endowment is intended to open doors for exceptional young students to develop their full potential.

Why do you think volunteering and giving back through time and talent is important?

An institution like Duke doesn’t just happen. It is the result of countless hours and dollars contributed by a community of people who want to transform society and improve the world for future generations. I hope other people will join me in supporting the transformational work of Duke helping each individual achieve his or her potential to change the world around us.

TAGS: My giving stories Impact stories

About the author

Gift Planning

Duke University’s Office of Gift Planning specializes in charitable gift planning for estates, charitable trusts and annuities, and other complex current and future gift plans.

For more information, please contact the Duke University Office of Gift Planning.