Ever wonder why so few veterans are enrolled as undergrads at Duke University? The New York Times has…
The numbers aren’t exactly a guarded secret, but they also aren’t something the university wants the military community to know. As the president of Duke Veterans for two years during my enrollment in the Master of Theological Studies program, I asked several times for the numbers and for contact info for fellow vets. The numbers changed slightly each time, and I was never provided the contact info (even though mine was shared with marketers repeatedly). The highest number I was ever given as to student veterans was 264, but that included all graduate schools as well as the undergraduate population. There are currently 14,950 students in all, so a high of 264 student veterans comes to about 1.6% of the total student population. (*the 14,950 stat was taken from the prior link, which is now broken. See a screenshot from April 22, 2016 here.)
Student population is really about undergraduates though. When I pressed administrators in the know about how many undergraduate student veterans that 264 number included, the highest number I was ever told was nine. Nine students veterans of 6,485 total undergrads comes to 0.13%. Wick Sloane of Inside Higher Education has been tracking the number of student veterans at elite colleges for years, and he cites only two undergrad veterans at Duke. TWO (to be fair, that number has technically doubled since I graduated)
Before I graduated, I began to see why there are so few Marines, at least, in the Duke undergraduate population.
In 2013, I learned the Director of Higher Education Initiatives for the Marine Corps had been trying to reach the Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at Duke. She was responsible for developing relationships between colleges and the Marine Corps for a program supporting Marines being discharged from enlisted service and transitioning to civilian life as students. I was made aware of her attempts on July 18, 2013 when she contacted the Associate Dean of Students, who forwarded her email to me because I was the outgoing president of Duke Veterans, a campus wide student veteran association.
As of November 26, 2016, Duke University still does not participate in the Leadership Scholar Program, which requires no resources or funding from participating schools.
The Leadership Scholar Program is an official program of the Marine Corps that eases the transition of enlisted Marines from active duty into full time higher education. This program was supported by three general grade officers and Duke alumni; Walter Boomer, Emerson Gardner, and Frank Bowman. The radio silence from the Dean of Undergraduate Admissions went on “for several years” according to the director. This is why she reached out to the Associate Dean of Students, who forwarded her to me, an alumni no longer formally associated with the university. As the person responsible for all undergraduate admissions, refusing to reply to an entire branch of the United States armed forces reflects profound negligence at best, but also implies a high level of discrimination against enlisted veterans. This further reflects an institution-wide bias against military which has negatively impacted numerous veterans at Duke.
One month after the Associate Dean of Students was made aware of this negligence and/or anti-military bias in undergraduate admissions, the same Dean was re-appointed to his current five year term, which will expire in 2018. As of November 26, 2016, Duke University still does not participate in the Leadership Scholar Program, which requires no resources or funding from participating schools. Participating in this official Marine Corps program might begin to rectify the low number of student vets in the undergraduate population, which according to sources is in the single digits. But to do that Duke has to acknowledge the value of military personnel and treat the Corps with a modicum of respect by replying to emails…