Kenan-Biddle Partnership unites Duke, UNC students on academic projects

A new $150,000 initiative that promotes projects developed by students from Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill launched October 4, 2010. The Kenan-Biddle Partnership is funded by the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust and The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.

“The Kenan-Biddle Partnership brings together two great charitable organizations dedicated to enhancing the intellectual life at both Duke and UNC,” said Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead. “The opportunities for collaboration and creativity will bring our campuses closer together and lead to new ways of thinking about education.”

The partnership will promote student-initiated, inter-institutional projects designed to strengthen established collaborations or encourage new ones. The projects may also contribute to the scholarly or public service missions of both campuses. Each project proposal must have a student or students who serve as the project initiator.

“The Kenan-Biddle Partnership will nurture the growing collaborative culture between two great research universities,” said UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp. “The vision for encouraging students to develop innovative projects is brilliant. I can’t wait to see what Tar Heels and Blue Devils working together will come up with.”

The universities have successfully collaborated on other recent projects. The privately funded Robertson Scholars Program, for instance, was designed to be “a catalyst for increased collaboration between students, faculty, and staff of the two universities.” Since its inception in 2000, the merit-based scholarship program has allowed hundreds of top students to study at both institutions and to take part in leadership development opportunities.

Other joint efforts include the Nannerl O. Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professorship, also co-funded by the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, and partnerships in a variety of academic and civic-minded programs locally and abroad.

“The Kenan-Biddle Partnership provides students on both ends of Tobacco Road the opportunity to share resources and collaborate in a way that wasn’t previously possible,” said Duke Student Government President Mike LeFevre. “I look forward to seeing the results of these team efforts.”

An annual call for proposals from both campuses will encourage collaborative arts, sciences and humanities projects that will positively affect both campus communities. Each project must include at least one public exhibition, presentation or performance. Preference will be given to proposals made jointly by students from both institutions.

Funds can be used flexibly for project support, salary, as well as materials. Grant requests should be for about $5,000; however, larger requests may be considered depending upon the scope and impact of the project. This total awards competition will grant up to $50,000 annually as part of a three-year grant by the foundations. The projects are expected to run for a calendar year, with possible renewal. The proposals will be reviewed by an advisory committee of students, faculty and administrators co-chaired by Ronald Strauss, executive associate provost at UNC, and Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs at Duke.

“UNC and Duke students share a drive to make a difference,” said Hogan Medlin, UNC student body president. “The partnership will inspire even more entrepreneurial thinking that will use great ideas to help solve local and global problems. We look forward to helping students to think big.”

Proposal applications may be submitted now. The deadline is Nov. 15, 2010. Decisions will be made by Dec. 10, 2010 for a Jan. 1, 2011 start.

The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust was created in 1965 from the estate of alumnus William R. Kenan, Jr., a member of UNC’s class of 1894. The Kenan family’s ties to UNC date to 1790 when James Kenan, a member of the University’s first Board of Trustees, contributed $50 to the construction of Old East, the nation’s first state university building. The trust and related Kenan entities and family members were the single largest donor to the University’s last major fundraising drive, the Carolina First Campaign, committing nearly $70 million.

Named for the daughter of Duke University benefactor Benjamin N. Duke, The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation’s mission is to further and extend Mrs. Biddle’s life-long interests in religious, educational and charitable activities in New York City and the state of North Carolina. Since its inception in 1956, The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation has awarded grants totaling approximately $36 million in support of the goals she endorsed and the values she exemplified.

Published Oct. 4, 2010.