In the Fall of 2015, the Carolina Women’s Leadership Council began its third collective fund-raising effort to benefit the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Having already targeted the areas of faculty mentoring and campus speakers, the Council created a scholarship program and named it for Lanier Brown May. Recipients of the scholarship will be called the “Laniers.”

Lanier Brown May, third from left, is shown with her family on the occasion of her father David Brown ’57 ‘s 80th birthday in 2015. From left: Sydney Brown Cardone and husband Michael, Lanier, Jamie May, Suejette Black ’17, Richard Black ’14, Hutter Black ’16, David Brown ’57, Suejette Brown, David Brown with family Cindy, Jessie, Ashley and Collins Brown; Hill DuBose ’13, Paige Brown DuBose ’83, Will DuBose ’84 ’88, Jack DuBose and Brown DuBose ’16.

Lanier Brown May, third from left, is shown with her family on the occasion of her father David Brown ’57 ‘s 80th birthday in 2015. From left: Sydney Brown Cardone and husband Michael, Lanier, Jamie May, Suejette Black ’17, Richard Black ’14, Hutter Black ’16, David Brown ’57, Suejette Brown, David Brown with family Cindy, Jessie, Ashley and Collins Brown; Hill DuBose ’13, Paige Brown DuBose ’83, Will DuBose ’84 ’88, Jack DuBose and Brown DuBose ’16.

The Council’s history of collective giving

The Carolina Women’s Leadership Council was formed at the beginning of the Carolina First Campaign, UNC’s highly successful $2.38 billion fund-raising campaign, for the purpose of re-engaging women alumni and celebrating their individual and collective resources. As a result, Carolina women contributed almost $500 million to the Carolina First Campaign, and 24,000 gave to the University for the first time.

The vision for the Council’s collective giving has always been to address key needs on campus with the power of a group gift.

The inspiration for a scholarship endowment

More students than ever, including those from low- and middle-income families, need aid in helping pay for a college education. Prior to 2008, about 29 percent of UNC undergraduates qualified for need-based aid. Currently, that number is 43 percent.

Merit scholarships are limited. Less than 7 percent of UNC students receive renewable merit scholarships – this figure includes the Morehead-Cain and Robertson Scholarships – and less than 10 percent receive any type of merit funding.

The Council decided to create a unique scholarship – one that married need-based and merit-based aid, while also providing a sense of community for the students. The Carolina Women’s Leadership Council Scholarship will be a one-time, $5,000 award given to incoming first-year students.

College students also benefit from community, as well as financial aid. The Council, inspired by the success of the Froelich Fellows in the Honors Program, wanted to include a way for the individual scholarship winners to have collective identity, support and ties to the Council and the University over time. The Council also wanted a way to honor the UNC development officer who has directed the Council since its beginning: Lanier Brown May.

Council Co-Chairs Mary Anne Dickson ’63 and Molly Froelich ’83 announced the scholarship at the Fall 2015 meeting. “This exciting new scholarship will forever serve as a legacy to the work of this Council, but more importantly to the work and leadership of our most important, committed, unheralded, devoted, beloved Lanier Brown May,” Froelich said. “Lanier is a friend, leader, counselor, and concierge. We will forever call these scholarship recipients the Laniers, so these students will remind us every day of the qualities of leadership and character that exist behind the scenes as well as up on stage.”

May, who has worked at Carolina for 15 years, comes from a long line of Tar Heels. A Greensboro native, she graduated from Saint Mary’s School in Raleigh and Davidson College. She has close personal ties with many members of the Council, and spends much of her time consulting, mothering and hosting, bringing each Council member closer to campus. Over time, these ties have grown to include the daughters, sons and even grandchildren of Council members who enroll at UNC. May and her husband Jamie, former Senior Associate dean and executive director of the Arts and Sciences Foundation, host a back-to-school party every year at their house for families of first year students to welcome them to Carolina.  And throughout the year, the Mays host many Carolina gatherings that include their own five Carolina nieces and nephews, as well as their many friends.

The Council, with May’s direction, has become a national model for other universities looking to engage alumnae. Thus it was appropriate that the Council named its latest signature effort for her, and ensure that her contribution to the University will live on in each Lanier that enters UNC.

“I’m very humbled and very honored,” May said. “I was completely surprised when Molly and Mary Anne announced it at the annual meeting last September. It was very overwhelming to look up and see my family there and all those women who mean so much to me. It was a very joyful day.  And now that I’ve had time to reflect, I am very proud. Part of my life’s work has been with the Council, and I’ve been fortunate to work with this distinguished group of women. Going forward, it will be a great way for me to always stay connected with the Council and the University.”

Just six months after its beginning, the Council has raised almost $300,000 for the endowment that supports the Carolina Women’s Leadership Council Scholarship Honoring Lanier Brown May. Thanks to these efforts, two incoming first-year students in the Fall of 2016 will be named the first two Laniers. The Council hopes that the endowment will reach $1 million, so that 10 Laniers can be named in the incoming first-year class each Fall. That would eventually mean a network of up to 40 active Laniers on campus engaged with the Council while they are earning their degrees, and then later as they transition into young alumni.

 

For more information on how you can support the Lanier Brown May Scholarship Endowment, please contact:

Lanier Brown May
Major Gift Officer
Office of University Development
eMail
919-843-5883