Duke traces its origins to Union Institute in Randolph County, North Carolina. The legislature granted a rechartering of the academy as Normal College in 1851, and the privilege of granting degrees in 1853. To keep the school operating, the trustees agreed to provide free education for Methodist preachers in return for financial support by the church, and in 1859 the transformation was formalized with a name change to Trinity College.
In 1887, the Yale-educated John F. Crowell became president of Trinity College. Committed to the German university model which emphasized research over recitation, Crowell directed a major revision in the curriculum and convinced the trustees to move to a more urban location. In 1892, Trinity opened in Durham, largely because of the generosity of Washington Duke and Julian S. Carr, influential and respected Methodists who had grown prosperous through the tobacco industry.
John C. Kilgo became president in 1894 and he greatly increased the interest of the Duke family in Trinity. Washington Duke offered three gifts of $100,000 each for endowment, one of which was contingent upon the college admitting women "on equal footing with men." By World War I, Trinity College had developed into one of the leading liberal arts colleges in the South.
In December 1924, James B. Duke established The Duke Endowment, a forty million dollar trust fund, the annual income of which was to be distributed in the Carolinas among hospitals, orphanages, the Methodist Church, three colleges, and a university built around Trinity College.
The president at the time, William P. Few, insisted that the university be named Duke University, and James B. Duke agreed on the condition that it be a memorial to his father and family.
The university grew up quickly. The School of Religion and Graduate School opened in 1926, the Medical School and hospital in 1930, the School of Nursing in 1931, and the School of Forestry in 1938. The Law School, founded in 1904, was reorganized in 1930, and engineering, which had been taught since 1903, became a separate school in 1939. In 1930, the original Durham site became the coordinate Woman's College which was merged back into Trinity as the liberal arts college for both men and women in 1972. In 1938 Duke University became the thirty-fourth member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The Fuqua School of Business was founded in 1969.
Duke University also has several graduate and professional schools: the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences , the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing , the Fuqua School of Business , the School of Law , the Divinity School , and the Graduate School.
Duke University's Talent Identification Program, or TIP, is for seventh- through tenth-graders who have scored well on the SAT or ACT. Participants can take a varitey of summer classes while living on Duke University's East or West campus, or campuses at other participating schools. The TIP program also enables rising seniors to attend classes at Duke's "Pre-college" summer session.
Duke's undergraduate students are a very active social group. The nearby bars on Durham's Ninth Street are a popular outlet for students. However, the primary social scene at Duke occurs within the "Duke Bubble" in the form of a strong Greek life. About 1 in 3 males, and 1 out of 2 females, are members of a Greek organization. Although the on campus "Animal House-style keggers" have been ended by the administration, Greeks have found other, usually off-campus alternatives to provide students their necessary dose of "college life".
There are 400 student clubs and organizations. These include numerous student government, special interest, and service organization. The Chronicle is Duke's independent undergraduate daily newspaper.
Duke offers 36 arts and sciences majors in addition to 5 engineering majors, and 46 majors have been approved under Program II. Program II allows students to design their own interdisciplinary major. Sixteen certificate programs are also available. Students may pursue a combination of a total of three majors/minors/certificates, with at least one but not more than two majors (e.g. one major, two certificates; two majors, one minor; just a major; one major, one minor, and one certificate) .
Trinity College of Arts and Sciences operates under the recently revised Curriculum 2000. It ensures that students are exposed to a variety of "areas of knowledge" and "modes of inquiry." The curriculum aims to have students develop critical faculties and judgment; learn how to access, synthesize, and communicate knowledge effectively; acquire perspective on current and historical events; conduct research and solve problems; and develop tenacity and capacity for hard and sustained work.
Duke's Special academic facilities: art museum, language labs, Duke Forest, primate center, phytotron, electron laser, nuclear magnetic resonance machine, nuclear lab, marine lab, and center for engineering, medicine, and applied sciences. Duke also is a leading participant in the National Lambda Rail Network.
Duke Men's basketball is one of the most well known college athletics programs in the country. ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi has called the Blue Devils from the early 1980s to today a dynasty. The team's achievements under coach Mike Krzyzewski, include making the Final Four five years in a row from 1988 to 1992, winning the ACC Tournament an unprecedented five years in a row from 1999 to 2003, having six players named Naismith College Player of the Year in under 20 years, and becoming the only team to win three national championships since the NCAA Tournament field was expanded to 64 teams.
Former Duke stars such as Grant Hill, Christian Laettner, and Shane Battier have gone on to achieve further success in the NBA. Duke basketball has also provided the country with some of its top coaches including former Blue Devils Johnny Dawkins, Steve Wojciechowski, Tommy Amaker, Quin Snyder, Chris Collins and Jeff Capel.
As of April 1, 2005, Duke has a total of six national championships; three in Men's Basketball (1991, 1992, 2001), two in Women's Golf (1999, 2002), and one in Men's Soccer (1986).
Duke owns 212 buildings on 9,432 acres (38 km²) of land. That includes the Duke Forest and the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.
Duke is sometimes called "the Gothic Wonderland," a nickname referring to the Gothic revival architecture of its main campus (West Campus). Much of the campus was designed by Julian Abele , one of the first African-Americanarchitects. The residential quadrangles are of an early and somewhat unadorned design, while the buildings in the academic quadrangles show influences of the more elaborate late French and Italian styles. Its freshman campus (East Campus) is composed of buildings in the Georgian architecture style.
The Duke Chapel stands at the heart of West Campus, and is at the center of religion at Duke. Constructed in 1930 through 1935, the Chapel seats about 1,600 people. With its 210-foot (64 m) tower, it is one of the tallest buildings in Durham County, North Carolina.