School of Education Receives Largest Gift in Its History

The School of Education has received the largest gift in its history — more than $3 million to honor the memory of former faculty member Donald G. Tarbet.

The bequest will be used to establish the Donald G. Tarbet Endowment Fund for Faculty Support, which will provide faculty stipends for development of innovative educational interventions and programs, support for junior faculty and other areas of faculty support. Tarbet joined the school’s faculty in 1952. He also served for 18 years as director of the Summer School during a period of its expansion.

The gift comes from the estate of Tarbet’s wife, Justeen Tarbet, a longtime Chapel Hill resident who died in January 2013 at the age of 94. The Tarbets had been married for 54 years when he died in 1995.

“Donald’s contributions to the school as an outstanding faculty member and head of the University’s Summer School program have had an enduring impact by providing accessible programs to students,” said Bill McDiarmid ’69, dean of the school. “We know that this gift serves as an extension of his dedication to the school and to Carolina.”

Donald Tarbet was a native of Missouri and grew up on a family farm, the sale of which provided much of the funds for the gift. He graduated from the University of Missouri in 1938, taught for several years and then served in World War II in Europe. After the war, Tarbet returned to teaching part time while completing a doctoral degree in education involving school administration at the University of Missouri in 1952. That year, the Tarbets moved to Chapel Hill when he was hired as an assistant professor at the school. He also began working with UNC-TV when it was established in 1954, developing educational television courses.

“Donald was an innovator who saw an opportunity to use this new technology to extend Carolina’s offerings to more students,” McDiarmid said.

Extending educational opportunity to more people also was a motivation for his work in expanding Carolina’s Summer School. Tarbet was named director of the Summer School in 1969 at a time when it primarily served teachers returning to campus for certificate renewals. During his 18 years as director, he led work to expand the Summer School to provide offerings from across campus to a wider range of students.

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