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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC and Duke join for new partnership

Photo Courtesy of UNC News Services/Dan Sears

Photo Courtesy of UNC News Services/Dan Sears. Former UNC Chancellor James Moeser rides with former Duke President Nannerl Keohane on the Robertson Bus on its inaugural trip in 2001.

The University has made a $150,000 deal with the Blue Devil.

On Monday, UNC joined Duke University in unveiling the Kenan-Biddle Partnership, which will aim to bridge the 8-mile gap between the two campuses by promoting student-led projects, with preference given to projects proposed jointly by students from both schools.

Funded by the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust and the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, the partnership will span three years. Each organization will annually contribute $25,000 to fund student-initiated projects and advance current collaborations, such as the Robertson Scholars Program.

“Aside from the basketball rivalry, we’re actually doing an incredibly large amount of things together,” said Executive Associate Provost Ron Strauss, who will serve as co-chairman of the joint, 10-member Kenan-Biddle Partnership advisory committee.

Grant proposals, which are advised to total about $5,000 apiece, will be accepted until Nov. 15. Proposals exceeding $5,000 might be considered depending on their scope and impact, according to the partnership proposal. The document also states that the proposals “shall be made jointly by representatives from both universities,” but must be signed by the student initiator and faculty adviser.

The committee — composed of five officials from each university — will render decisions on projects by Dec. 10 for a Jan. 1 start. Although they are clear in their goal to spur innovative original projects, officials said they are less certain of what exactly those projects will entail.

“It’s a pretty wide-open competition, and it’s a very clean slate, so we’re saying to students, ‘Go ahead and run on it,’” said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations at Duke.

And though the $150,000 sum is relatively meager compared to other initiatives, Schoenfeld said it is more than enough to provide students the necessary “spark.”

“If you’re talking about providing resources and incentives for good ideas, especially good ideas hatched by creative students, it only takes a little bit of money to provide the glue or grease that is needed to spark those ideas,” he said.

In an e-mail, Richard Krasno, executive director of the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, said officers from both foundations will evaluate the partnership at the end of its three years and make recommendations to their respective boards of directors.

The announcement of the partnership comes about one week after the announcement of the University’s “Innovate@Carolina” plan, which shares stated purpose of initiating collaboration for innovative, entrepreneurial projects.

Strauss will accept applications with fellow co-chairman Larry Moneta, vice president of student affairs at Duke.

“It’s almost like a license to dream,” he said.

Contact the University Desk at

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