$2 Million Gift Completes Goal of Doubling Honors Program

A $2 million capstone gift completes the goal of doubling the number of students invited to Carolina’s honors program.

The gift from the Hyde Family Foundations of Memphis, Tenn., will add faculty to teach honors courses and qualifies for a $1 million grant from the Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust Fund, bringing the gift’s total value to $3 million. The state fund, established in 1985 by the N.C. General Assembly, provides matching grants to recruit and retain outstanding faculty.

The gift is the fourth major gift to honors in the past year. Combined, private gifts and state matching grants from the four donors total $21.5 million in endowed support for the program. Of the 3,800 students in the class of 2011, 200 first-year students were invited to join the honors program. With the past year’s gifts, and more available honors courses, 10 percent of entering students in future classes will receive invitations.

Two months ago, the William R. Kenan Charitable Trust established six faculty endowments with a $6 million gift, in addition to $3 million in state matching grants. In December, the Morehead-Cain Foundation created the Mary H. Cain Distinguished Professorship in art history, resulting in a $2 million endowment, including state match, that will add four honors courses in art history. In September 2007, an anonymous donor gave $5 million to fund five new professorships named for two UNC alumni – Peter Thacher Grauer ’68 and William Burwell Harrison ’66. State matching funds will add $2.5 million, making this a $7.5 million endowment.

The Hyde Family Foundations gift creates two $1.5 million endowments, each augmented by the state match of $500,000, and will support a minimum of two assistant or associate professors.

“We believe the gift to honors is a great complement to our support of faculty through the Institute for the Arts and Humanities,” said Barbara Hyde ’83, president of the J.R. Hyde Family Foundation of Memphis, Tenn. Hyde, a former honors student, serves on the Board of Trustees. “As Chancellor Thorp recently said, Carolina is the best place to teach, discover and learn. We hope this gift helps faculty and students do all three.”

Barbara Hyde and her husband, Pitt Hyde ’65, made the lead gift to build the institute a new home in 2002 – in Hyde Hall on McCorkle Place. In 2006, the Hydes gave a $5 million gift for expansion of the institute’s Academic Leadership Program that prepares faculty for academic, intellectual and institutional leadership roles at the University and provides ongoing support for faculty who have assumed such positions.

The honors program, established in 1954, has long been recognized by The Fiske Guide to Colleges as “one of the best and most accessible in the country.” It is considered a national model for universities.

In recent years, the deciding factor for students who choose Carolina over distinguished peer universities has been a nationally acclaimed honors program, said James Leloudis ’77, associate dean for honors.

A limited ability to serve all qualified students has caused the program to turn away – and often lose to other schools – hundreds of talented applicants, he said.

Any of the current 120 honors courses are open on a space-available basis to all students with a B average. Students who are not invited to join the program may apply during their first three semesters. Each year, more than 300 students in 51 departments and curricula complete senior honors theses under faculty supervision.

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