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$3 Million Gift to Duke Designed to Develop Leaders in Public Life

November 08, 2019


Hart Leadership Program Director Gunther Peck moderates a panel conversation for “Student Voting Rights: Why They Matter, How They Are Lost” with Parkland student Sari Kauffman, Symone Singleton ’17 and Anita Earls, an associate justice on the Supreme Court of North Carolina. The Hart Leadership Professors of the Practice will enable more experiences, such as this panel conversation on student voting rights, for faculty to engage with students to develop leadership skills and tackle a range of pressing contemporary ethical and political challenges. 

DURHAM, N.C. -- A $3 million gift to Duke University will support two Hart Leadership Professors of the Practice in the Sanford School of Public Policy’s Hart Leadership Program, announced Sanford School Dean Judith Kelley on Thursday.

The two professorships are funded through a commitment from Milledge A. Hart III and Linda W. Hart, who founded the Hart Leadership Program in 1986 and are longtime friends of the university.

“We are proud of the success of the Hart Leadership Program, which has made a significant difference at Duke University for almost 35 years,” said Linda Hart. “The Hart Leadership Program in the Sanford School provides a transformational experience for students at Duke, and we are proud to continue to support the program in this way.”

“Early on, being the first undergraduate leadership program in the country, we knew this program would be unique, important and different than other leadership programs at universities,” added Mitch Hart. “We are proud of the way the program continues to grow, evolve and create new experiences for students who are the future of leadership. In this program, students learn about leadership by being leaders. With new faculty, our students will have even more guidance and perspective as they build their skills.”

As the first endowed leadership program for undergraduates in the country, the Hart Leadership Program helps develop students for careers in public life. The program combines classroom and experiential learning in ways that have helped generations of students understand their sense of purpose, explore their strengths and weaknesses and develop the ability to lead in the face of the world’s major challenges.

“One of our school’s strategic priorities has always been to provide undergraduate public policy students with a meaningful, lasting encounter with our major, which inspires them to undertake lives of public service, leadership and civic engagement,” Kelley said. “The Hart Leadership Program is one of our greatest assets to achieve this priority. I am delighted to announce these two new vital professorships — made possible by the Harts’ continued generosity and commitment — which will further recognize the impact of our faculty, students and the Hart Leadership Program on the undergraduate experience.”

The program currently has seven core faculty members, 10 affiliated faculty and three staff members. The gift will increase to nine the number of core faculty members.

“As the director of this storied leadership program, I am proud of the history and impact of our faculty, students and alumni,” said Gunther Peck, associate professor of public policy and history and director of the leadership program. “As one of the jewels of Duke’s undergraduate program, the Hart Leadership Program has been built by the audacious aspirations of my predecessors and hundreds of students whose work, energy and imagination have piloted many of Duke’s signature programs — including research service-learning, scholarship with a civic mission and Duke Engage. The addition of these core faculty members will benefit our community and our students tremendously and help us continue being an incubator for lifelong practices of social and political change, innovation and leadership among our students and alumni.”

Since its founding, more than 12,000 Duke undergraduate students have taken courses in the program and participated in experiential learning. Students, faculty and staff have worked with hundreds of community partner organizations in Durham, across the United States and around the world to develop leadership for public life.

Visit hart.sanford.duke.edu for more information about the program.

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