Service-Oriented Duke Scholar Taking Over Robertson Program

Tony Brown, whose leadership courses have inspired scores of Duke University undergraduates to launch community service projects in Durham and elsewhere, will be the new leader of the Robertson Scholars Program.

Brown succeeds Eric Mlyn, who has led the program since its inception. He will start in the position July 1.

“Tony is highly respected by our scholars, particularly those who have known him from our freshman colloquium and by the faculties of both universities,” Julian Robertson ’55 said. “His interests, abilities, charisma and commitment to leadership insure that he will be a great leader of our scholars.”

Brown joined the faculty of Duke’s Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy in 1994. In 1997, he received the Howard Johnson Distinguished Teaching Award for undergraduate teaching excellence.

Brown is affiliated with the Sanford Institute’s Hart Leadership Program, where he created the Enterprising Leadership Initiative, an undergraduate social entrepreneurship program that educates and empowers college students to create initiatives that address university and community problems.

Brown’s students have undertaken projects that include building two Little League fields in Durham, creating a camp for almost 100 children in families affected by cancer and developing a plan to make it easier for frail elderly people living in Durham to receive food stamps.

“Tony Brown has opened up opportunities for Duke students in his courses who developed a passion for what he calls ‘entrepreneurial learning,’ ” said Duke President Richard H. Brodhead. “Tony challenges his students to develop viable responses to social problems, and they respond in remarkable ways: starting the Center for Race Relations, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, SEE the World and other groups that have had a real impact on campus and in the larger world.”

Brown said he would retain his Duke faculty appointment as professor of the practice in public policy studies and initially would teach two courses on leadership and ethics to the Robertson Scholars. He may expand his teaching load later. The Robertson Scholars Office is on the UNC campus.

The Robertson Scholars Program, created in 2000, is a merit scholarship program that each year brings 18 new scholars to Chapel Hill and an equal number to Duke. The students are brought together for a comprehensive program of summer enrichment opportunities, mentoring, special courses and access to the resources of both universities. Robertson Scholars spend much of their time on both campuses, including one semester in residence at the other university.

The program was created through a $24 million initial gift from Robertson and his wife, Josie, who wanted to encourage further collaboration between the two universities. The program runs a free express bus between Duke and UNC and offers collaboration grants to faculty and students at each university to support joint programs. The program provides full tuition, room and living stipends for the scholars chosen at UNC or full tuition at Duke.

Related coverage is available online:

  • An Arch Between Rivals – A basketball obsession tends to obscure the reality that Carolina and Duke each really do have stuff the other wants. The year-old Robertson Scholars program started as a dream of an academic bridge.
    Feature coverage from the May/June 2002 issue of the Carolina Alumni Review, available online to Carolina Alumni members.
  • Among May Graduates, the First Robertson Scholars
    News report from June 2005
  • Distinguished Service Medal Citation presented to Julian Robertson Jr. ’55 by the General Alumni Association in May 2005.

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