The story of Duke’s first hundred years has been one of tremendous success—of the transformation of a small liberal arts college into a great research university. While we cannot be together in person, this Founders Day still offers us the opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary contribution of the Duke family—which has laid the foundation for everything that has come since—and to recognize those members of the university community whose contributions have received less recognition, or have come perhaps against greater odds.

The Duke Family

James B. Duke statue in front of Duke Chapel

Synonymous with the founding of Duke University, The Duke Family played a crucial role in establishing the university we know today.

The “First Five”

Three of the “First Five”

The first five African American undergraduates arrived on campus as members of the Class of 1967 and forever changed our university for the better.




Yao-ju “Charlie” Soong portrait

Trinity College’s first international student, Yao-ju “Charlie” Soong came to North Carolina in 1881 from China. He went on to an extraordinary career.




Ida Stephens Owens portrait

The first Black woman to receive a PhD at Duke, Ida Stephens Owens went on to earn international recognition for her research at the National Institutes of Health on the genetics of human disease.

Alice Mary Baldwin

Alice Mary Baldwin in an office

Alice Mary Baldwin was one of the most significant administrators of Duke’s history, serving as the inaugural Dean of Women and also the first woman to have full faculty status.