Meet Our Leaders

The two leaders of the Benjamin N. Duke Scholarship program aim to build a new generation of student leaders through academics and a commitment to community service. The young scholars from North Carolina and South Carolina all demonstrate service to society.

Michael Gustafson

B.N. Duke Scholarship Faculty Director

gus with blue background copyMichael Gustafson, who earned three degrees from Duke and teaches in the Pratt School of Engineering, will serve as faculty director of the B.N. Duke Scholarship program, Steve Nowicki, dean and vice provost for undergraduate education, announced Tuesday.

The B.N. Duke Scholarship program, housed in the Office of Undergraduate Scholars and Fellows (OUSF), selects residents of North and South Carolina for their high academic achievement, commitment to community service and potential for leadership. Full tuition, room and board costs and fees for eight semesters at Duke are covered by the scholarship. Students also participate in service and leadership development activities and two summer programs, one in the Carolinas and one abroad.

”We’re delighted to have Professor Gustafson, or ’Dr. G‘ as the students call him, take on this important role with OUSF,” Nowicki said. ”His in-depth work and interaction with Duke students in many dimensions across the university have earned him a reputation as a great professor and incredible mentor. We couldn’t have found a more dedicated Duke citizen.”

Gustafson, who came to Durham nearly 26 years ago from Memphis, TN, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Duke with a bachelor’s degree in engineering. He stayed on to earn his master’s degree (1998) and Ph.D. (1999) in mechanical engineering and materials science. Gustafson previously served as a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy as a naval reservist and continues his association with Duke’s three ROTC programs. Before taking on the B.N. Duke program, he served as faculty director for the Trinity and Alumni Endowed Scholars programs.

Gustafson’s primary focus is on undergraduate curriculum and laboratory development, and in 2005 he was awarded the first-ever Capers and Marion McDonald Award for Excellent in Mentoring and Advising. Students praise him for his deep engagement in their lab exercises, and for his clarity, fairness, good humor and accessibility in and out of the classroom. He has garnered student accolades for his first-year Computational Methods in Engineering (EGR 103L) course required for all Pratt students, and has also taught 17 other course topics totaling nearly 90 course offerings to more than 5,000 students.

Jenny Wood Crowley

B.N. Duke Associate Director (Office of Undergraduate Scholars and Fellows)

Jenny Wood Crowley knows how to get things done. “My role is to be the person who makes things happen. I’m the day to day administrator who ensures that the program runs smoothly and the scholars have the support they need .”

Her favorite part of being Associate Director of the B.N. Duke scholarship program is spending one-on-one time with students. “When I’ve got students in my office talking to me about what they’re doing and how I can help them—help them structure their thinking, clarify their writing, articulate an idea—that sort of thing, it pays dividends,” said Wood Crowley. “I enjoy working with the students and helping them figure out how their identity as a B.N. Duke scholar can help them here at Duke and beyond.”

While Wood Crowley’s role includes mentoring the scholars in their academics, grades and classes make up only a fraction of the equation for scholars with a bent for service and leadership. She helps students bring the academics, career aspirations, and community service potential together. “I tell the students not to compartmentalize that community service part of yourself from the work that you want to do. When we select these scholars we are looking for commitment and empathy. We want to know what drives them and what they want to do when they are at Duke.”

Both Wood Crowley and Thompson see the service core of the program as a global perspective that begins with a summer of service program in the Carolinas during the scholars’ freshman summer and then moves onto an international service project. Thompson calls it grounded globalism.
“First knowing where you are from and then set your sights on international Summer of Service. “You have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going,” said Thompson. “Duke is uniquely situated because we are an international community already. When we can imagine globalism through humanitarian, then we’re getting somewhere.”


Choosing to come to Duke and be a B.N. Duke Scholar had everything to do with choosing the corner where the people would support us the most zealously, where we could explode in pursuit of our passions, and where opportunities were not scarce. Stesha Doku Charlotte, NC

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B. N. Duke Scholars collaborate with community groups. Find out more about our community partners and how your group can partner with us.

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