George Watts Hill Alumni Center
It could be called the Grand Central Station of Carolina — a crossroads where all roads keep doubling back. Since it opened its doors in 1993, the George Watts Hill Alumni Center has been a stopping-off place and a launching pad for students, faculty and alumni.
That spring day when the Alumni Center opened was preceded by many years of hard work by many friends of the University, intent on providing a beautiful alumni home for their alma mater.
In 1986 — after more than 25 years of attempts to raise money to build an Alumni Center — one of UNC's most prominent philanthropists, George Watts Hill '22, pledged a challenge gift of $3.5 million. It was the highest amount that had ever been given to the University by a living alumnus. Hill loved Carolina and had served as the GAA's treasurer for 35 years. His pledge — as well as $39,000 already raised by an on-going Alumni Center Campaign and a $500,000 lead gift from the James M. Johnston Trust — set the ball rolling.
Ralph Strayhorn '47 chaired the Alumni Center Campaign committee and is a past chair of the GAA Board of Directors; Strayhorn and others credit Anne Cates '53 with being key to creating the Alumni Center. For Cates the project didn't end with the building's completion; in many ways she took it upon herself to oversee the center on an on-going basis, and she later served as chair of the GAA. "This Alumni Center is Anne Cates," said Richard Stevens '70, who was on the campaign committee and also is a past chair of the GAA.
The campaign committee called on all alumni to raise the $12.5 million that the center ultimately cost. All costs for building and furnishing the Alumni Center were met with private funds — the gifts of 14,500 UNC alumni, faculty and friends. No portion of alumni membership dues or state funds went toward the building or its furnishings, and each year more than 100,000 people visit the Alumni Center to participate in GAA and other programs and to attend functions or dine in The Carolina Club.
As of September 2009, 1,191 names of those alumni and friends of the University who made the largest gifts have been permanently and prominently recognized on the Alumni Center's Honor Roll, in the main lobby.
Individuals can make a one-time gift of $2,000 by Dec. 31, 2009, to include a name — of themselves or a loved one — on the Honor Roll. Gifts can be made online from the link below. For more details call (919) 962-1208.