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Julian Robertson Jr. ’55, who in 2000 established the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program — in which undergraduates from UNC and Duke split their classes between the universities — is among the 2017 recipients of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.
The medal was established in 2001 and is awarded every two years to individuals whose philanthropic work embodies the ideals of Andrew Carnegie’s vision, serving as a continuous inspiration to others. Having amassed what was thought then to be the world’s greatest fortune, the legendary American industrialist decided to give it all away with the stated goal of doing “real and permanent good in this world.”
The 22 Carnegie institutions in the United States and Europe nominate the medalists, and a selection committee representing seven of those institutions makes the final selection.
Robertson is one of eight recipients, six of whom are Americans.
He and his late wife, Josie, gave UNC $24 million to create a unique full scholarship program — half of whom are based at Carolina for their undergraduate years and half at Duke University. The couple had a son who graduated from each and were inspired to try to bridge academic and social gaps between the neighboring schools. The scholars attend classes at both. A Carolina Robertson lives at Duke for one semester, and vice versa.
Robertson is the founder and former head of the hedge fund Tiger Management Corp. He became a benefactor of the arts on behalf of his wife, and the plaza outside New York’s Lincoln Center is named in her honor. In 2010, the Robertsons donated Picasso’s “Seated Woman, Red and Yellow Background,” among other paintings, to the N.C. Museum of Art.
They also served on the UNC Board of Visitors and contributed half the endowment for the Nannerl O. Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professorship at the two universities. He has served on the GAA Board of Directors, endowed an MBA fellowship in UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and served as executive in residence there. He received UNC’s William R. Davie Award in 1992, the GAA’s Distinguished Service Medal in 2005 and Kenan-Flagler’s Leadership Award in 2011.
The Carnegie recipients were chosen “for their distinguished and longstanding contributions to the public good,” said Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York. “The medal reflects Andrew Carnegie’s enduring legacy of philanthropy and is rooted in two core principles. First: with wealth comes responsibility. Second: individuals, whether guided by religious, civic, humanistic, or democratic aspirations, have the transformative power to use wealth for the betterment of humankind.”
Carnegie’s gift to Carolina was the Carnegie Library, built in 1907 and converted in 1930 to the music building named Hill Hall.
The Carnegie institutions will award the medals during a formal ceremony at The New York Public Library on Oct. 3.
The other 2017 honorees are: