You are here

Terry Sanford Centennial

August 17, 2017

As Duke University President from 1970 to 1985, former North Carolina Governor Terry Sanford led Duke's rise to national prominence, set in motion signature programs, and voiced aspirations that still shape the institution today.

During the Centennial Year of Terry Sanford’s birth, the Sanford School of Public Policy will create, solicit and share -- online and through social media - examples of principled leadership from among the Sanford and Duke community. Submit a nomination here!  

We also will share details of Terry Sanford’s contributions to North Carolina, Duke, and the nation via a second social media campaign centered on a series of short films about his life.

Between March and June of 2018, we will invite students, visiting alumni, parents, and friends to a historical exhibit based on Duke Archives which will be on display in the Mary Duke Biddle Room at Duke’s Rubenstein Library.

Finally, through co-branding, we will tie ongoing activities of the school - such as our distinguished lecture series, activities of POLIS (The Center for Political Leadership, Innovation, and Service), and others -  to the Centennial.

Highlight for Basic Page

  • Terry Sanford

    Nominate a principled leader!

    Terry Sanford, born Aug. 20, 1917, dedicated his life to ethical leadership and public life. As governor of North Carolina from 1961 to 1965, Sanford focused on strengthening education, combating poverty and expanding civil rights. During his tenure state expenditures for public schools nearly doubled. He supported desegregation at a time when other Southern politicians were continuing to fight it. Sanford was later recognized as one of the 10 best governors of the 20th century. 

    During the centennial year of Sanford’s birth, 2017-2018, the Sanford School of Public Policy will celebrate his legacy by creating, collecting, and sharing stories of principled leadership from the Sanford and Duke community. Please use this form to nominate a principled leader – a Duke alum, faculty member, student or staff member.

Look for #TerrySanford100 on the Sanford School of Public Policy’s social media accounts.

Please contact Karen Kemp or Mary Lindsley if you have additional ideas for celebrating the legacy of "Uncle Terry."


In the Media

News & Observer:Terry Sanford’s astonishing life and legacy with us still

Charlotte Observer:The importance of Terry Sanford’s legacy today

News & Record:Let's Remember Terry Sanford

News & Record: Sanford appreciated, rewarded initiative




Terry Sanford: Legacy of Service



Principled Leaders

Lawyer and businessman Michael Sorrell MPP'90/JD’94 took the reins at Paul Quinn College, a historically black college (HBCU) in Dallas on the verge of collapse, in the spring of 2007. The school had mounting debts, crumbling buildings, and falling enrollment. Loss of accreditation seemed likely.

Within a year, Sorrell had gained national attention for extensive fund-raising, instituting a business casual dress code and, in football-crazed Texas, shutting down the football program.

The list of changes and accomplishments during Sorrell’s tenure is impressive. Fifteen abandoned campus buildings were demolished, new admissions standards were established and a Presidential Scholars Program launched. The college completed four consecutive audits without findings, had several years of budget surpluses and received full accreditation from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges. In 2011 the college was named HBCU of the Year.

An epiphany on a railway platform in India led Sanford alumna Maya Ajmera MPP '93 to her life’s work. Amidst the dust, noise and chaos of the train station, a circle of children sat around a teacher using flash cards to teach them to read. Ajmera learned that it cost about $400 a year to fund the school, which also fed and clothed the children.

Ajmera calls it her “moment of obligation,” when she realized the enormous impact small amounts of money could have at the grassroots level. Instead of going to medical school, Ajmera earned a master’s of public policy degree at the Sanford Institute and used that training to create the nonprofit Global Fund for Children.

With an initial focus on literacy, Ajmera wrote a children’s book as her first project, Children from Australia to Zimbabwe, illustrated with photographs. She wanted to spotlight the beauty and resilience of children in developing countries and show the commonality of children in the “global village.” Money from the book sales funded the program’s first grants, including one to the teacher of that train station school.

Today, GFC continues this twofold approach: making small grants to community-based organizations working with vulnerable children and youth and running a media program of books, documentary film and photography about children. To date, GFC has awarded over $34 million in grants to more than 600 organizations in 78 countries, serving more than 9 million children worldwide.