The Robertson Scholars Program is a joint full-ride merit scholarship and leadership development program at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The scholarship offers participants a unique “dual citizenship” at both Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill to approximately 36 students selected from among the more than 39,000 applications to the two schools each year.
The program also runs a bus service connecting the Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill campuses. The program was created in 2000 by benefactor Julian Robertson, a 1955 graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill. Mr. Robertson sought to increase collaboration between Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill as well as to recruit students to the two universities. His initial $24 million gift as well as his subsequent gifts to the program and the universities are overseen by a Board of Directors including Duke University President Richard Brodhead, UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp, and Julian Robertson himself.
The program covers all college costs (tuition, room and board, a laptop, plus a living stipend) and provides recipients full funding for three summers of global travel, research, and internships. The summer components of the program have served as a model for DukeEngage, an initiative to offer the opportunity for summer research and internships to all Duke undergraduates
Program participants have regularly won Truman Scholarships and Fulbright Fellowships. (2005).
In December 2006, the Duke Student Government banned UNC-Chapel Hill based Robertson Scholars from participating in tenting for the Duke game versus UNC-Chapel Hill, although they can still get in via the walk-up line. This caused considerable controversy on the campus and garnered national media attention.
More recently, questions have been raised about the ability of Duke-based Robertson Scholars to vote in UNC-Chapel Hill student government elections.