April 8, 2021

History of NCCU-Duke Collaborations

By Andre D. Vann, Coordinator of University Archives & Instructor of Public History, North Carolina Central University, with contributions from Christina Chia, Associate Director, John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, Duke University

The history of collaborations between the two universities, as captured in the following time line, demonstrates two things.  First, it is a fairly rich history, reflecting the singular efforts of various administrators, faculty and students across a broad spectrum of interests.  Second, many of these efforts do not survive for more than a year or two. The attrition rate is due to the challenge of securing long-term support, so that when the individuals spearheading them leave, become de-energized, or lose funding, the initiatives disappear.


Dr. Robert L. Flowers, President of Duke University served as Chair of the Board of Trustees at NCCU (then North Carolina College for Negroes and later changed to North Carolina College at Durham) for a total of 25 years.


Secret basketball game between NCCU team and Duke Medical School players at a time when such fraternization was illegal.


The Behind the Veil project, in which teams of graduate students from Duke, NCCU, and Jackson State fanned out across 10 Southern states over three summers, collecting family photos and 1,300 stories about the Jim Crow era from African American elders; the outcome is one of the largest collections of African American history in the U.S., now housed at Duke; the project resulted in two books and culminated in a 1998 oral history exhibit at Duke entitled,” Behind the Veil: Documenting African-American Lives in the Jim Crow South.”


2-semester joint course associated with Behind the Veil project; that consisted of faculty members Robert Korstad and graduate research directors Leslie Brown and Annie Valk (then history Ph.D. students at Duke) and Dr. Beverly Washington Jones and graduate students at North Carolina Central University including Andre Vann who attended classes at both NCCU and Duke Universities per semester for the courses exploring Jim Crow in the South.


An official cross enrollment made NCCU and Duke University Partners in an Army ROTC Program in August, 1995.


The Triangle Research Libraries Network in a new Memorandum of Understanding incorporated NCCU (James E. Shepard Memorial Library and NCCU School of Law) into the TRLN for the first time in an agreement dated May 26, 1995. The network is a collaborative organization of Duke University, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the purpose of which is to marshal the financial, human, and information resources of their research libraries that furthers the universities’ teaching, research, and service missions.


NCCU student Byron Otieno, one of ten summer student interns who worked in administrative areas of Duke Medical Center and the first ever who were not enrolled in the health sciences field created an efficient new color-coding system to speed its response to a major disaster that became the framework that was used in drafting the new disaster plan that the emergency and materials management departments were drafting.


Nationally recognized scholar Paula Giddings had a faculty position at Duke, joint in AAAS and Women’s Studies; in 1996/7, while at Duke, Giddings taught as a visiting professor in the NCCU History Department.


Duke University and NCCU hosted a symposium in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the publication of Dr. John Hope Franklin’s From Slavery to Freedom on September 19th-20th, 1997 with events on both campuses.


Ongoing efforts, undertaken informally for many years even before 1999, spearheaded by Dean Jackie Looney in the Duke Graduate School and involving several different Duke faculty in the sciences (notably, Professor Monty Reichert in Biomedical Engineering), to bring NCCU students to Duke for advanced training in various sciences, either for graduate study or under a “3/2” model (3 yrs at NCCU, 2 yrs at Duke); the GS reports that between 1998 and 2006, 13 students from NCCU enrolled in graduate programs at Duke, with 4 of these obtaining the PhD and 9 others obtaining the Master’s degree; currently Professors Greg Wray in Evolutionary Genomics and Daniel Schmidt in Evolutionary Anthropology are applying for an NSF Igert grant to train NCCU students in the biological sciences at the graduate level at Duke (NCCU has no PhD program in this area).


In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the landmark decision, Brown vs. Board of Education, 1954-2004: Conversations Across Generations was held on April 14, 2004 at Hillside High School and was sponsored by UNC, Duke, NC State and NCCU.


Preparing Future Faculty Partnership, a Duke Graduate School program in which faculty members at other institutions, including NCCU, mentor Duke graduate students about faculty life there; each year 4-6 NCCU faculty serve as mentors; in 2010-11, for example, 5 of the PFF fellows were mentored by NCCU faculty.


American Council on Education Fellowship for a NCCU Professor of Chemistry at Duke, selected in a national competition; this program is designed to prepare promising senior faculty/administrators to be leaders in college/university administration.


3 NCCU scholarships for participation in Duke in Ghana, a 6-week summer study abroad program.


Duke Graduate School participation in the NCCU Graduate School and Career Fair, by which Duke registers students who visit the Duke booth, and forwards their names and addresses to the departments in which they have expressed an interest.


Professor Tim Tyson at Duke teaches The South in Black and White, a joint NCCU-Duke course also open to the public, now supported by the Center for Documentary Studies, and offered once a year. The course is now open also to students from UNC and Durham Tech. The Fall 2019 offering was co-led by Tyson with gospel singer/historian/educator Mary D. Williams and sound designer/documentarian Michael Betts.


Duke-NCCU Summer Internship Program began, with students from NCCU hired to work in Duke Office of News and Communications and, later, across Duke University. As of 2019, 170 NCCU students have participated and at least 9 former interns were working full-time at Duke. Program directed by Dr. Charmaine McKissick-Melton.


John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute residential fellowships for faculty from HBCUs, funded by the Mellon Foundation; an NCCU faculty member held one of these in 2009. Later incorporated into HBCU and Liberal Arts Colleges Visiting Faculty Fellowships under the Humanities Writ Large and Humanities Unbounded initiatives.


North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company officially transferred its archival collection to Duke University and North Carolina Central University. The public signing of the Memorandum of Understanding by both Chancellor Charlie Nelms and President Richard H. Brodhead was on September 25, 2009. This rare agreement is one of only a few in the U.S. that is jointly held by two institutions.


NCCU Department of History annual African Diaspora Studies symposium, attracts occasional grad student/faculty from Duke.


Project Recon: A Program to Reconcile the Social Divide Between Duke University and North Carolina Central University, a series of joint student events now under the aegis of Duke’s Office of Regional Affairs but currently unfunded; this student-organized initiative resulted in the following events: (1) MLK Million Meals, held at Southern High School in Jan 2010, in which Duke and NCCU students worked together to package Stop Hunger Meals; (2) a reflection session, Feb 2010, at which a focus group of 8 student volunteers from each institution met to talk about their experiences; and (3) Spring Break Mar 2010, during which a group of students from both institutions went to Myrtle Beach together; and (4) the Bull City Showdown, the one Project Recon event that may continue forward (see below).


Bull City Showdown, an annual intramural basketball tournament between men’s and women’s intramural teams from NCCU and Duke, to commemorate the 1944 secret game; the first annual event was held at NCCU and the second at Duke.


As a spin-off of the Three-City Study, Professors Linda Burton in Duke Sociology and Sherry Eaton in NCCU Psychology trained 2 cohorts of NCCU graduate students, totaling 8 students, in qualitative methods at Duke (NCCU offers only quantitative methods in these fields); they would like to expand this program but have run out of funds.


NCCU Artist in Residence Patrick Douthit (a.k.a. 9th Wonder) began regularly co-teaching the History of Hip Hop with Duke faculty Mark Anthony Neal.


Content, Context and Capacity: A Collaborative Large Scale Digitization Project on the Long Civil Rights Movement in North Carolina; a federal grant to the Triangle Research Libraries Network to digitize 40 prominent archival and manuscript collections at Duke, NCCU, NCSU and UNC.


HBCU and Liberal Arts Colleges Visiting Faculty Fellowships under Duke’s Humanities Writ Large and Humanities Unbounded initiatives, both funded by the Mellon Foundation. Four NCCU faculty have held these year-long residential fellowships to date (two in 2012-13, one each in 2019-20 and 2020-21), with one more selected for 2021-22.


Race in Durham, a course to be taught jointly by a faculty member from each institution, funded and planned for Fall semester.


Humanitarianism in Haiti: Visions and Practice, an international conference organized by NCCU faculty/ Humanities Writ Large Fellow Joshua Nadel, linked with year-long Duke-NCCU undergraduate course on Haiti.


NCCU-Duke Digital Humanities Fellows Program, hosted by the Digital Humanities Initiative at Franklin Humanities Institute. Program provides training in digital pedagogy and other professional development opportunities for NCCU faculty, including an annual year-end symposium. 23 Fellows have participated to date. Funded by the Mellon Foundation from 2016 to 2019.


American Institute of Pakistan Studies DH Program: With support from the AIPS, in early May 2019 Matthew Cook traveled to Lahore, Pakistan, along with Collie Fulford and Russell Robinson, to lead a DH workshop for 12 junior scholars from across Pakistan. Duke’s Victoria Szabo and Hannah Jacobs provided virtual instruction from Durham. Later in May, five participants from the Lahore workshop traveled to North Carolina for a one-month residency. Brett Chambers and Michele Ware joined Cook, Fulford, and Robinson as mentors to the visiting scholars. All NCCU faculty involved have been NCCU DH Fellows.


HBCU Counterstories: Going Public with the Experiences of Adult Learners, a Duke Story+ summer project led by NCCU Faculty/Humanities Unbounded Fellow Carolyn Fulford, with team of Duke and NCCU students.


Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University Planning Meeting for “Race and Underserved Communities: COVID-19 and its Economic and Social Impact on Black-Owned Small Business in Durham, North Carolina.” On-going project involves faculty from the NCCU History Department, School of Business and NCCU Archives-working jointly with the SDC Center.