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Support for Faculty Excellence

The professors at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy are inspiring mentors and leading scholars. Recruiting, retaining, and supporting distinguished faculty is critical to our future success.

Faculty shape both the Sanford School’s reputation for excellence and a world-class curriculum designed to educate practical, ethical leaders for tomorrow. We are fortunate to count among our professors some of the most renowned thinkers and practitioners in the policy arena, including White House advisers from past administrations, former State Department officials, and a former managing editor of The Washington Post.

But the best public policy professors are highly sought after by other top universities, industry, government agencies and think tanks. To hire and retain dedicated teachers and innovative scholars—particularly in emerging areas of study—the Sanford School must be able to compete.

Philanthropic investments that support our outstanding professors not only help Duke attract the strongest possible faculty, they also ensure our ability to deliver premier educational and research programs across a range of policy fields.

Endowed Professorships

Our professors are catalysts. The Sanford School’s professors provide the mentoring and instruction that propel our students forward in their future careers. Our faculty also conduct ground-breaking research that shapes policy decision-making across a range of fields from energy and the environment to education and social policy.

Private support for endowed professorships has been key to building this stellar faculty, and was an essential component of Sanford’s successful transition from an institute into a full-fledged school in 2009. Philanthropy remains a crucial ingredient for constructing the foundation of our future success.

Donors who support endowed faculty positions at Sanford are not only recognizing remarkable academic leaders, they are supporting policy research with potentially profound implications. Endowed chairs are lasting investments in the future of the Sanford School, ensuring that for generations to come, our students will benefit from their ability to connect with great thinkers and mentors in public policy.

  • Your gift of $1 million can endow a visiting professorship to support expert practitioners and outside scholars who bring fresh perspectives that enhance intellectual exchange.
  • Your gift of $2.5 million can endow a distinguished faculty chair, helping Duke recruit and retain outstanding faculty who will enrich the Sanford School’s academic programs and provide mentors for our students.

Research Funds

Our professors conduct research that matters. Not only do they publish groundbreaking studies, they put their knowledge and ideas into practice in a variety of far-reaching ways. But a gap exists between our faculty’s innovative ideas and the amount of funding available to conduct proof-of concept research — essential for obtaining the large grants needed to scale up projects. And in some fields, university resources and private support are the only sources of research funding.Photo of a family trying a cookstove in India

When possible, Duke helps to bridge that gap with small grants, such as the funding provided to launch the Duke Cookstove Initiative. A collaboration among Duke social scientists, biomedical researchers, and environmental scientists, it aims to improve air quality and reduce pulmonary disease in the developing world by tackling one of its leading causes: poorly-ventilated cooking stoves. Today $500,000 from USAID makes the initiative possible, but a small pilot project funded by Duke paved the way for that grant.

There are only limited funds that the university can direct toward promising faculty-driven research projects like these. Private support for public policy research helps our investigators explore the potential of their most exciting ideas. These investments pay rich dividends by opening the door for additional funding and generating results that matter.

  • Your gift of $100,000 or more can provide research funding that enables policy faculty to pursue solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.