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NCCU Goes on Offense: We’re Not a “Poor Cousin” to Duke

NCCU Goes on Offense: We’re Not a “Poor Cousin” to Duke

In its coverage of the Duke University men’s lacrosse rape story, the media for months have contrasted the elite, privileged world of Duke with the struggling-to-get-by image of the historically Black North Carolina Central University, where the alleged rape victim is a student. 
Separated by a couple of miles, the manicured expanse of Duke — which has an endowment of $3.8 billion — is psychologically far removed from the functional brick buildings of NCCU, which has an endowment of $22 million. That such differences exist between a mostly White institution, built off of plantation money, and a mostly Black institution, created in 1910 when Blacks were denied entry to other schools, has raised questions of lingering inequalities.

Yet in the months following the alleged rape, NCCU Chancellor James Ammons Sr. has stuck by his wealthier neighbor, appearing often with Duke President Richard H. Brodhead. But late last month, Ammons lashed out at the public’s “unfavorable comparisons” between NCCU and Duke.

“References in news stories to North Carolina Central as ‘scrappy and willful’ or ‘a poor cousin to Duke University’ create a picture of an institution that is financially strapped, lacks sophistication and is devoid of excellence,” Ammons wrote in an op-ed  he e-mailed to national publications. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

NCCU’s funding and enrollment have recently increased. The state Legislature has allotted more than $121 million in new programs and renovations to the university in recent years. Some money went
towards construction of a new  NCCU School of Law.

The negative portrayal of NCCU has come from outsiders, such as The New York Times, which ran a front page article May 1 that called NCCU “Duke’s Struggling Cousin.”

The two universities have long partnered on projects, many programs allow students to take classes at either institution, and professors also teach classes at both schools.

NCCU administrators say they look at themselves as an institution with a mission much deeper than raising big endowments and being nationally recognized.

 “I’m very proud to be here,” says Dr. Jarvis Hall, director of the political science department. “I’m trying to reach people who ordinarily wouldn’t have the opportunity for a good education.”

— By Christina Asquith

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