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Carolina First Ends With a Bang on $9 Million Gift

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The Carolina First Campaign raised $2.38 billion in what UNC officials are calling the fifth-largest completed campaign in U.S. higher education and the largest completed fundraising drive at a university in the South. A $9 million pledge to the UNC School of Pharmacy pushed the campaign to that historic mark.

Carolina First began July 1, 1999, and ended Dec. 31, 2007. Its public launch came in October 2002 with a $1.8 billion goal. That mark was raised to $2 billion in October 2005. Not only did Carolina surpass its overall goal, but each professional school and unit exceeded individual goals as well. The campaign also boasted yearly records for commitments ($363.6 million), which include pledges, and gifts ($250.8 million), both set in fiscal year 2007.

The final $2.38 billion raised included $419.5 million for faculty, including 208 new endowed professorships; $345.2 million for students, including 577 new scholarships and 196 new fellowships; $579.7 million for research; $654.7 million for strategic initiatives; and $184.2 million for facilities.

“Carolina First truly transformed this university,” Chancellor James Moeser said. “Every dollar has made us a stronger institution, and every donor has our deepest gratitude.”

Paul Fulton ’57, co-chair of the campaign steering committee, said, “We began by thinking that our original goal of $1.8 billion was ambitious. It was, but donors were even more ambitious. So we raised the goal to $2 billion, and even that proved low.”

The campaign received contributions from more than 193,000 donors, ranging from current students to Dennis and Joan Gillings, who pledged $50 million to support the School of Public Health. The campaign’s single largest donor was the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust and related Kenan entities and family members. They combined to commit $69.9 million.

Overall, about $860 million (36 percent) came from Carolina alumni, $894 million (38 percent) came from corporations and foundations, and friends of the University and other organizations provided the balance.

More than $960 million in gifts and pledges were raised by Carolina First for the University’s endowment. Gifts alone, which went directly into the endowment, accounted for more than $500 million of that total. These gifts, along with excellent returns earned by the UNC Investment Fund, have helped raised the endowment’s value to $2.2 billion.

The pharmacy gift, from Fred Eshelman ’72 of Wilmington, was doubled to $18 million with a match from the board of North Carolina’s University Cancer Research Fund. The funds will support cancer research by the School of Pharmacy and the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center that focuses on genetics, individualized cancer therapy, drug discovery and drug delivery.

Eshelman is CEO and founder of Wilmington-based PPD Inc., a leading global contract research organization providing discovery, development and post-approval services as well as compound partnering programs to the biopharmaceutical industry.


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