Private support has been critical to the nation’s first public university since our founding.


ccm1_036090In 1789, Col. Benjamin Smith, who later would be North Carolina’s 16th governor, gave 20,000 acres of land in western North Carolina (now Tennessee) to be sold as a source of funds for the newly chartered University.

Credit: North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives

ccm1_036087In 1792, Chapel Hill was selected over 13 other sites to host the University. The local landowners’ generosity—an offer of 1,386 acres and roughly $1,600 cash—sealed the deal.

davieportrait_frame Private citizens donated books, globes and scientific equipment to stock the University’s shelves and classrooms. With these gifts, the libraries of the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies grew to almost 2,000 volumes by 1812. Founder William R. Davie donated historic objects, natural history specimens and texts from his personal collection. The library still has 13 of his books, including Edward Gibbon’s “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” (1789).

~ Credit: North Carolina Collection Gallery

james_hoggJames Hogg of Hillsborough, University trustee from 1789 to 1802 and one of Carolina’s first and greatest volunteer fundraisers, solicited gifts of land and money for the Chapel Hill campus.

historic_south_buildingConstruction of South Building began in 1798, but the money ran out after one and a half stories were erected. The building stood unfinished and open to the elements until 1808. President Joseph Caldwell traversed the state in his horse-drawn gig asking for private donations to help complete the structure. He raised $8,200—enough to finish the job.

gerrard-hall-tOf UNC’s first 29 buildings, 22 were gifts. These included Gerrard Hall, completed in 1837. It was funded by proceeds from the sale of 14,000 acres of land left to the University by Major Charles Gerrard, who died in 1797. Not until 1905 was a campus building, Howell Hall, funded entirely by a state appropriation.

battlekemp_x1645In 1871, during Reconstruction, the University was forced to close its doors in part due to lack of funds. The reopening in 1875 came about through the unceasing efforts of Cornelia Phillips Spencer and her pro-University campaign in the press. Kemp Battle, then a trustee and later president, canvassed the state for contributions to help the University reopen.

smith_buildingCarolina’s oldest continuously awarded professorship, in chemistry, was endowed by a bequest from Mary Ann Smith of Raleigh, who died in 1891. Her estate also provided scholarships for needy students and funded the Smith dormitory, built in 1901, which now houses offices and classrooms.

~ Credit: UNC-Chapel Hill Facilities Services

mason_farm_bio_reserveIn 1894, Mary Elizabeth Morgan Mason bequeathed 800 acres of land to the University, including what is now known as the N.C. Botanical Garden. The 367-acre Mason Farm Biological Reserve supports ecological research, preserves outstanding natural areas and is widely used by students and faculty.

francispvenablePresident Francis Preston Venable turned to steel magnate Andrew Carnegie to help establish a research library. Carnegie offered $50,000 if the University would provide for its upkeep. Venable raised a matching amount from alumni, allowing the opening of the Carnegie Library in 1907. Venable got $40,000 from the Peabody Education Fund to build an education building in return for securing funds for annual expenses. Peabody Hall opened in 1913.

~ Credit: North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives

binghamThe first of the Kenan professorships was established in 1917 by the will of Mary Lily Kenan Flagler Bingham, whose bequest of more than $2 million was one of the largest gifts ever to a state university. Bingham’s fortune came from her marriage in 1901 to oilman Henry Flagler, John D. Rockefeller’s partner in Standard Oil.

~ Credit: North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives

williamrandkenanMary Lily Kenan Flagler Bingham left most of her large estate to her brother, William Rand Kenan Jr., and to her two sisters, Sarah Graham and Jessie Wise. William’s first major gift was funds for a 1927 football stadium named in honor of his parents. He also provided an endowment fund for the chemistry department and started an athletic scholarship fund.

~ Credit: North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives

graham_memorialAfter President Edward Kidder Graham’s death in 1918, trustees and faculty decided to build a student union as a memorial to Graham. Completion was made possible in 1931 by an anonymous donation of $80,000. The donor was later identified as L. Ames Brown ’10.

sarah_graham_kenan1In 1930, Sarah Graham Kenan—William Rand Kenan Jr.’s sister—helped the University start the Southern Historical Collection with a $25,000 endowment gift. She later established professorships in the schools of law, medicine and business.

~ Credit: Manuscripts Department

carolina_innJohn Sprunt Hill—a 1889 University graduate who made his fortune in banking, insurance and real estate—built the Carolina Inn in 1924. In 1935, he gave it to the University, specifying that profits from the inn should benefit the North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library.

jspencerloveJames Spencer Love was the son of James Lee Love, class of 1881, and Julia Spencer Love, daughter of Cornelia Phillips Spencer. He founded Burlington Industries and, in 1941, made a critical gift to the Institute of Government. After his death, Burlington Industries made a donation to the hospital that, at the time, was the largest gift the University had ever received from a corporation.

~ Credit: North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives

john_motley_morehead_webIn 1946, John Motley Morehead III presented the University with $1 million to build a planetarium, which opened in 1949. It was the first planetarium associated with a university. He also created the Morehead-Cain Scholars program and donated funds for the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower. Morehead’s fortune came from his father, James Turner Morehead, a North Carolina businessman whose companies eventually became part of a 1917 merger that created the Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation.

williamacklandThe Ackland Art Museum was founded in 1958 through the bequest of William Hayes Ackland, who was a Washington, D.C., lawyer, unknown to the University at the time of his death. His will stated that his $1.5 million estate should establish an art center in the U.S. South.

~ Credit: Ackland Art Museum

jamesjohnstonJames Martin Johnston attended Carolina from 1913 to 1915 and later became an investment banker. After his death in 1967, his trust began donating funds to the University for scholarships, an effort that now totals more than $25 million. In 2000, the Johnston Trust helped support the renovation of Graham Memorial, which now houses the Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence.

~ Credit: Chapel Hill Weekly

josephpogueA native of North Carolina with two degrees from UNC (1906 and 1907), Joseph Ezekiel Pogue became a prominent geologist who ran his own oil exploration firm as well as working for banks and oil companies. His estate of $11 million in petroleum stocks came to the University after his wife’s death in 1973 as an unrestricted endowment. It has been used for library acquisitions, scholarships and research.

~ Credit: North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives

1970s_students2In the late 1970s the University was given $35 million by UNC alumni and friends in the Carolina Challenge Campaign.

ccm1_036108 frankbordenhanesThe Hanes Family of Winston-Salem, N.C., started a textile knitting business that manufactured hosiery and clothing under the nationally known Hanes brand. The son of the founder of the company, Robert March Hanes, left, graduated from Carolina in 1912, fought in the First World War and served as the president of Wachovia Bank for 25 years. His son, Frank Borden Hanes, right, became one of North Carolina’s most important patrons of the arts. For his alma mater, he led fundraising efforts, endowed professorships and created the Thomas Wolfe Scholarship in Creative Writing for undergraduates. In 1985, the University dedicated its new art building to him and his wife, Barbara Lasater Hanes.

unc_kenan-flagler_business_school Kenan-Flagler Business School, one of the oldest accredited business schools in the nation, was founded in 1919 as the Department of Commerce. In 1991, the school was renamed to honor Mary Lily Kenan Flagler and her husband, Henry Morrison Flagler. The renaming recognized an extraordinary gift from Frank Hawkins Kenan, also the benefactor of the school’s Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise.

frankkenan_johnpevansDuring the Bicentennial Campaign, which ran from 1989 to 1995, the University raised $440 million. A total of 122,000 individuals, corporations and foundations contributed. The campaign received 68 gifts of $1 million or more, including gifts of almost $31 million by Frank Hawkins Kenan, his family and a family trust. The single largest share of campaign contributions, 35 percent, came from alumni.

~ Credit: North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives

claytonIn 1999, Carolina received what was then the largest single gift in its history, a $28.6 million unrestricted bequest from the estate of 1949 alumnus David Benjamin Clayton of Bessemer, Ala. The gift was used to create 400 national merit scholarships, to fund sweeping changes in undergraduate academic advising and to meet other University priorities.

gillingsIn 2007, the Carolina First Campaign finished as the fifth largest drive among completed campaigns at that time in the history of U.S. higher education, raising $2.38 billion and topping its initial $1.8 billion goal. The campaign included a $50 million commitment, at the time the single largest in University history, from Dennis and Joan Gillings to support the School of Public Health, renamed the Gillings School of Global Public Health. The William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust and related Kenan entities and family members were Carolina First’s most generous donors, committing nearly $70 million.
Credit: Dan Sears

eshelman_fred_12-webIn December 2014, the University announced its largest commitment from an individual in history—$100 million to the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy from Fred Eshelman, a 1972 graduate of the school, founder and former CEO of Pharmaceutical Product Development, and founding chairman of Furiex Pharmaceuticals. The commitment—also the largest ever made to a pharmacy school in the United States—is being used to create the Eshelman Institute for Innovation. Through strategic collaborations inside and outside the University, the institute will help fuel innovation, create jobs and spur economic development in the state, while enabling the school to pursue new ways to enhance its position as a national and international leader. Eshelman had previously donated $38 million to the school, including $3 million to support its drug-discovery center; $2.5 million for pharmacy education, pharmacy practice, research and training; $9 million for cancer research; and $20 million for scholarships, fellowships, faculty development in teaching and research, partnership development with community pharmacists, and residency programs. The school was named for Eshelman in 2008.