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Nancy Faison Bryson 60 and Vaughn Douglas Bryson 60

Distinguished Service Medal Citation

Nancy Faison Bryson ’60 and Vaughn Douglas Bryson ’60

It’s not difficult to measure the far-reaching impact Nancy and Vaughn Bryson have had on Carolina since they graduated from the pharmacy school together in 1960. The trick is finding where to start. Accomplished professionals, diehard Tar Heels and wonderful friends, they’re deeply committed to making an impact on the University and the world around them.

Nancy explains that their giving is very eclectic because that’s exactly how they feel about the University. It’s not just the pharmacy school or the baseball team for which Vaughn played, but also music, medicine, the library, the College of Arts and Sciences.

Much of their philanthropy has its roots in their student days. Nancy played alto clarinet in the concert band, was active in Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and other campus groups, and was an honorary member of the Valkyries. Vaughn made his mark as a three-year starter, varsity letter winner and member of Carolina’s first College World Series baseball team. They grew fond of pharmacy Professor George Cocolas, who injected learning with a dose of excitement and shared Vaughn’s love of baseball.

Nancy served on the Board of Visitors from 1993 to 1997 and on the board of directors of the Arts and Sciences Foundation from 1994 to 2001. Both are members of the Carolina First campaign steering committee.

The Brysons’ first major gift went toward a new music library. Their gift to the Educational Foundation, set up an endowment for the baseball program, the first of its kind at Carolina. It already has led to improvements such as a new scoreboard, trophy case, stadium furniture, players’ lounge, and renovated coaches’ offices.

Nancy and Vaughn have helped fund UNC medical school research into an abnormality that leads to a group of disorders known as MPS. And recently they donated $5 million to establish a clinical genetics research center at the medical school.

The latter, according to medical school Dean Bill Roper, is expected to be instrumental in creating one of the nation’s leading centers for medical genetics. Says Bill, “We have, for several years, had a focus on the laboratory research side of genetics, but what their donation will do is help create a clinical side to research genetics that will be an important partner here.

“The thing that distinguishes the Brysons,” Dean Roper says, “in addition to their wonderful personalities, is the depth of their interest in actually being involved in the University. They’re not just passive investors, they really do want to take an active part in what’s going on, especially in medicine.”

Vaughn began his career as a sales representative with Eli Lilly, the company of which he would rise to chief executive officer. In 1967, he completed the Sloan Program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and held a variety of market research, sales and management positions with Eli Lilly. In 1975 he was named vice president of Lilly International and worked in London from 1979 to 1982, where he established the European headquarters leading to a global focus on new product planning and marketing. Vaughn also was head of Elanco Products Co., a worldwide animal health and agricultural chemical operation; and was vice chairman of Vector Securities International Inc., a Chicago-area global investment bank.

Nancy worked for many years as a pharmacist in hospitals and professional retail operations.

In 2000 Nancy and Vaughn remembered Professor Cocolas with a distinguished professorship in pharmaceutical sciences in his name. They also helped fund Banks Kerr Hall, the pharmacy school addition named for their friend, and provided a discretionary funds endowment to Pharmacy Dean Bill Campbell.

They also have helped with the House Undergraduate Library renovation and the Faculty Partners Fund in Arts and Sciences. 

They apparently are pretty good role models as well. Their children, Bill ’89 and Cathy ’90, have made major gifts through the Bryson Foundation to the Campus Y renovation and an American studies professorship endowment. 

Hardly a corner of Carolina has not been touched by this extraordinary pair.