Five alumni were honored with the University’s Distinguished Alumna/Alumnus Awards as UNC marked its 224th birthday on Thursday.
University Day, the anniversary of the 1793 laying of the cornerstone of Old East, also featured an address by Gov. Roy Cooper ’79 (’82 JD), the state’s 75th governor.
The event was livestreamed and is available on UNC’s YouTube channel.
Previous University Day celebrations have featured speeches from distinguished members of the faculty and honored visitors. Two sitting presidents — John F. Kennedy in 1961 and Bill Clinton in 1993 — have been featured speakers. North Carolina governors have made University Day a traditional stop during their first term of office, including Luther Hodges ’19, Jim Hunt ’64 (LLBJD), Terry Sanford ’39 (’46 LLBJD), Jim Martin, Mike Easley ’72, Beverly Perdue and Pat McCrory.
Recipients of the awards, first given in 1971, are:
Nancy Allbritton, Kenan Distinguished Professor of biomedical engineering and chemistry, received this year’s Edward Kidder Graham Faculty Service Award, which recognizes service to the state, the nation and the University by a faculty member. Allbritton’s research studies, described in more than 160 publications, are directed at the development of technologies by bringing to bear methods from engineering, chemistry, physics and biology to address biomedical problems. The program has been funded by the National Institutes of Health with more than $56 million in grant funding since 1994. Allbritton is the scientific founder of three companies and has 12 issued patents and nine pending.
Chancellor Carol L. Folt announced that the yearlong Give for Good: Scholarship Challenge, unveiled at this event in 2016, raised more than $65 million to support the Carolina Covenant and the Morehead-Cain scholarship. The challenge was prompted by a $20 million gift from an anonymous donor, who made the gift as tandem $10 million challenges to double the amount to help bring top students to Carolina. The University said that more than 2,300 additional donors responded, contributing more than $45 million.
“I’m thrilled to report that we more than met the challenge issued by this generous anonymous donor,” Folt said. “While he hoped to double the challenge gift, we ended up raising more than $65 million, more than tripling the original gift, all for student scholarships.”
Gifts to the challenge count toward The Carolina Edge, a Campaign for Carolina initiative that aims to raise $1 billion to support undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships and professional school financial aid. The campaign launched publicly on Oct. 6, with an overall goal of $4.25 billion.
The Covenant scholarship program, now 13 years old, is a groundbreaking initiative that gives children of low-income families — many of whom are first-generation students — an opportunity to attend Carolina without borrowing money. More than 6,000 low-income Carolina students have graduated debt-free.
Since its founding in 1945, the Morehead-Cain Foundation — home of the first merit-based scholarship program in the country — has connected high-achieving young leaders to a fully funded undergraduate experience. More than 3,100 scholars have benefited from the program since its inception. The University said that funds raised by the Give for Good: Scholarship Challenge will help increase the number of scholars the program can bring to Carolina.