Case Study:

How do I find a faculty friend?

The Gerst Program and Duke University Program in American Values and Institutions

Gary Gerst, a successful Chicago businessman and philanthropist, wished to support his alma mater, Duke University, with a program focused on the foundations and history of freedom.

Mr. Gerst sought FAR’s recommendations about faculty at Duke University who would provide leadership for such a program, and FAR helped introduce Mr. Gerst to political science professor Michael Gillespie, who helped design a program that would meet Mr. Gerst’s philanthropic objectives.

The Gerst Program was established in 2000, and it has since grown into the Duke University Program in American Values and Institutions, an interdisciplinary program about American institutions and ideals, with a special emphasis on the American Founding. The program was so successful that it garnered additional funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The program continues to expand with the addition of a living-learning community, where undergraduates participating in the program share housing on Duke’s campus.

Donors who want to support an academic program or activity that will be an official part of a college will need to find a "faculty friend" to support the initiative. It is faculty who will determine the program’s intellectual content, organize the program’s events, and advertise them to the student community.

FAR has an extensive network of professors and has identified faculty ready to lead innovative programs not only at Duke University but also at Brown University, Vanderbilt University, and other schools across the country.

FAR Services:

  • Identifying a distinguished faculty to design and lead an academic program or activity.
  • Facilitating the establishment of interdisciplinary programs.
  • Creating programs that can attract additional philanthropic support.

The Fund for Academic Renewal is a program of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization as defined by Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All contributions to FAR are fully tax-deductible to the maximum extent provided by law.