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New family scholarship fund seeks employee support

March 09, 2005

Bruce Egan took credit for coming up with the idea of establishing a need-based scholarship fund for family members of University employees.

But that was the easy part. Anybody can come up with an idea, Egan told members of the Employee Forum on March 2.

But making the scholarship fund into a reality took help and support from across the University community.

"This group did that, and I really appreciate that," Egan said.

Help also came from Human Resources, the admissions office and from South Building, Egan said.

Now it will take more help from University employees to ensure the scholarship is as successful as Egan envisioned it could be.

Gifts toward the scholarship count toward the Carolina First Campaign goal of $1.8 billion.

Gifts from individual employees, though, count for something more, said Egan, who is the associate director of the IT Response Center.

Small gifts from a large number of employees will count for the leverage he needs when he seeks additional support from the University and from other potential benefactors.

It will be easier to ask for support for a program to benefit employees if a large number of employees demonstrate how much they value the program by contributing to it themselves, Egan said.

Egan said he hopes that raising money for the scholarship fund will help to promote a sense of community around campus. A selection committee is expected to choose scholarship winners this spring for the upcoming fall semester, Egan said.

The committee will have to evaluate how many scholarships can be given out based on the resources available.

There is now about $20,000 available to give out this year.

Gifts to the fund can be made in care of the Office of University Development, P.O. Box 309, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, and should be earmarked "Family Scholarship Fund, #6797." Gifts by payroll deduction or credit card can be made online at:

In other matters, the Employee Forum approved a resolution welcoming former North Carolina Senator John Edwards to campus.

The resolution said the creation of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity within the University's School of Law follows the tradition that was exemplified in 1924 when the Institute for Research in the Social Studies was established in 1924.

Edwards will serve as director of the center. He began work last month.

The resolution extended "its most earnest welcome and best wishes for future success to our distinguished Carolina alumnus John Edwards as he leads the center in its work to elevate `hope over despair, possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism, to build one economy that honors work, not just wealth' while ensuring the continuation of this University's finest traditions of vigorous intellectual academic inquiry and public service."

The forum also passed a resolution in support of the creation of a UNC system staff assembly.

The resolution said the joining with employee forums representing the other 15 member institutions in the UNC system would "better serve the forum's mission and increase the efficiency of University operations across the UNC system, through common use of "best practices" developed by the various organizations."

University staff first posed the idea of creating a system-wide staff assembly with the Office of the President in 1997.

News Release

For immediate use

Feb. 9, 2005 -- No. 51

UNC-Chapel Hill employees establish
family scholarship fund, solicit donations

CHAPEL HILL — Roberta Massey’s son, Joshua, is only two years old, but already his mom is wondering how she will pay for his college education.

To help Massey, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill housekeeper, and other Carolina parents ease that financial worry, a group of university employees has established the UNC-Chapel Hill Family Scholarship Fund. To date, UNC-Chapel Hill employees have donated almost $4,000 to the fund. In his State of the University Address on Sept. 29, 2004, Chancellor James Moeser announced that he had directed $200,000 from a recent estate gift to support the scholarship program.

"This is an excellent idea," Massey said. "It provides incentive for parents to pass onto their kids that if they work hard and keep up their grades, they can get a college education."

The scholarship fund has two goals. The first is to provide need-based scholarships for Carolina employees’ children to attend any of the state’s 16 UNC system campuses or community colleges. Bruce Egan, one of the employees involved in creating the fund, said, "This goal reflects Carolina’s commitment to support higher education throughout North Carolina, not just within the stone walls of the Chapel Hill campus."

The second goal is to further the sense of community among UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, staff and administration by supporting and working toward a common goal— the education of university employees’ children. "This fund is a wonderful example of Carolina employees coming together to support higher education and, most important, each other," Moeser said. "I support this effort wholeheartedly and salute our employees for taking the initiative."

Employees can contribute to the fund through direct donations or payroll deductions of as little as $2 a month—making it possible for employees at all income levels to support the fund. "The intent is to garner support throughout the rank-and-file employees at Carolina in a coordinated fund-raising effort," Egan said. "Even if employees don’t have children who could benefit from the scholarship, I hope that in the spirit of helping their colleagues, they will consider contributing to the fund. Education is what Carolina is all about, and the more people supporting the effort, the more our employees’ children will benefit."

Contributions will fund yearly scholarships, as well as an endowment to generate future scholarship awards. Scholarships will be renewable for two to four years of undergraduate studies. A board composed of faculty and staff will work with the University’s Office of Scholarships and Student Aid to determine the number and amount of scholarships that will be awarded each year. The board will award the first scholarships this spring for students entering college in fall 2005.

Gifts to the UNC-Chapel Hill Family Scholarship Fund can be made in care of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Office of University Development, P.O. Box 309, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, and should be earmarked "Family Scholarship Fund, #6797." Gifts by payroll deduction or credit card can be made online at carolinafirst.unc.edu/gift.

Gifts count toward the Carolina First Campaign goal of $1.8 billion. Carolina First is a multi-year, private fund-raising campaign to support Carolina’s vision of becoming the nation’s leading public university.
For more information on the fund, visit


Contacts: Bruce Egan, (919) 843-7777 or bruce_egan@unc.edu; or Andi Sobbe, (919) 962-2546 or andi_sobbe@unc.edu

News Services: Lisa Katz, (919) 962-2093

Fund to pave way to UNC system

Money will aid employees' children

The Daily Tarheel
February 08, 2005

Roberta Massey, a UNC housekeeper, never thought that her son would become part of the community she serves everyday.

Although her son, Joshua, is only 3 years old, Massey already wonders how she will pay for his college education.

But a new scholarship to provide the children of UNC employees with a shot at a college education might put an end to Massey’s worries.

The Family Scholarship Fund, established by employee Bruce Egan, will award need-based scholarships to children of UNC faculty and staff members starting this year. Recipients can use the money to attend any of the 16 schools in the UNC system or any of the state’s community colleges.

“By doing this, we’re promoting education all across the state,” said Egan, associate director for UNC-Chapel Hill’s Information Technology Response Center.

He said the program is unique because students have a variety of schools from which to choose. N.C. State University has a similar program, but students can only receive funds to attend NCSU.

A $200,000 seed grant from the Office of the Chancellor and $4,000 in contributions from faculty and staff members laid the foundation for the fund.

Applicants will be evaluated on the basis of need by UNC’s Office of Scholarships and Student Aid. A committee of two faculty and two staff members then will allocate the scholarship funds, which Egan said should be at least $4,000 for the program’s first class of students.

The fund not only will cover a student’s first year at the University but also will reserve the scholarship for the student’s future years in college.

Egan said the University’s commitment to the program is evident in the funding that has flowed from several corners of campus — especially because those who will benefit from the program are helping to pay for it.

The program’s benefits are twofold, Egan said, noting that employees want to provide opportunities for education at the same time as they foster a deeper sense of community.

Chairwoman of the Faculty Judith Wegner said the program’s creation demonstrates a University-wide commitment to education.

“The next generation has a chance for the future,” she said. “A scholarship can make a big difference. I know that it did for me.”

Tommy Griffin, chairman of the Employee Forum, said staff members think the program is a great idea. “As a single parent with two kids in college, I have struggled to keep them there,” he said. “In today’s world a college education is not cheap.”

Peter Desaix, president of the University Managers Association, which aims to identify ways to recognize UNC employees, said his organization wholeheartedly supports Egan’s efforts.

“We are all very excited with the fact that Bruce has taken this initiative across the University,” he said.

Massey stressed that the fund will allow parents to send their children to college when they might not have had that chance.

“The important thing is that people who work on the lower level understand the impact this could have on their families,” she said.

Egan credited his colleagues for making his vision come to fruition.

“It’s one thing to come up with an idea and it’s another to roll up you sleeves and make it happen,” he said. “Because of their support this dream is becoming a reality.”

Scholarship program a boon for UNC workers

The Chapel Hill Herald
Feb 6, 2005

In the interest of full disclosure, Bruce Egan is a longtime friend and colleague of this newspaper. He has written an every-other-week Sunday column for The Chapel Hill Herald for several years and is also the brains behind the Sunday features The Chapel Hill Challenge and One-on-One.

While we greatly appreciate his work for the paper, we nevertheless think his greatest contribution to the community may be something he has worked on during his regular day job. Egan, who helps manage UNC's computer help desk, is the driving force behind the university's new "Family Scholarship Fund," a program designed to help the children of low-income university employees go to college.

To be eligible, a student's parent must work at least 30 hours a week at UNC. The children also must be qualified students attending Carolina or any other public university or community college in North Carolina. The scholarship will be need-based, which means students and their families will have to demonstrate an inability to pay the entire cost of whichever institution they choose to attend.

The fund is only in its very early stages, and much remains to be done -- including raising lots of money so it can be more than just a token gesture. For later this year, in fact, money will be available for just a few students. But Egan and others hope a private campaign will give the program a boost, going way beyond the university's initial commitment of $200,000.

The low-income rank-and-file workers at the university, housekeepers, mechanics, clerical assistants and others, are frequently invisible, the forgotten class at UNC. They keep the university operating but barely make enough to support themselves and their families. It has been well documented how many of them must take other jobs to make ends meet and how many cannot even afford to live in the community in which they work.

Rather than bemoaning those facts, Egan worked for more than a year on doing something about them. His scholarship idea is unique; many other universities, like Duke, have college tuition programs that benefit the children of all who work at the school, including children of faculty and administrators, for instance, who may not need the help.

It was Egan's particular insight to address the specific needs of low-income UNC workers, realizing how they've struggled in recent years as state money for pay raises has dwindled. It's an insight we hope the whole university community will embrace.

Children of UNC employees get boost $200,000 seeds new need-based scholarship for 'our colleagues' kids'

BY ERIC FERRERI eferreri@heraldsun.com; 918-1046 The Herald-Sun
Friday, February 04, 2005
Final Edition
Front Section

CHAPEL HILL -- Bruce Egan is one of those goofy idealists who thinks he can really make a difference. So he is.

"I wanted to give something back to the university," said Egan, who has worked at UNC for 15 years. "I don't have a million dollars, but I did have this idea to help our colleagues' kids get into college."

Egan, associate director of the university's IT Response Center -- also known as the computer Help Desk -- has been the driving force behind a new scholarship designed to help the children of low-income UNC employees go to college.

Dubbed "The Family Scholarship Fund," the program got an initial boost through a recent $200,000 commitment of private university funds. Now UNC officials are starting to solicit donations to add to the coffers.

The scholarship will benefit qualified students attending Carolina or any other public university or community college in North Carolina. It is expected to start slowly, with money available later this year for just a few students. But proponents hope a private fund-raising campaign will give the program a boost.

"It will take awhile to get the money together, but now we have a cause," said Tommy Griffin, chairman of UNC's Employee Forum, which represents about 7,000 rank-and-file workers. "Anyone who wants to give us money, we'll take it."

Griffin said the new fund sends a powerful symbolic message to university employees, including many low- and middle-income staffers who have struggled to make ends meet in recent years as state money for pay raises has dwindled.

"I think it's one of the best things to hit this campus in a long time for employees," Griffin said.

There is no set income level a UNC employee must meet in order to qualify for the scholarship money. Nor is it yet clear just how many scholarships will be available.

The program is strictly need-based, which means students will have to demonstrate an inability to pay the entire cost of whichever institution they choose to attend. To be eligible, a student's parent must work at least 30 hours a week at UNC.

The $200,000 in seed money is a start. But the program will need a significant boost from private fund raising to make money available to a substantial number of students.

The money is in an endowment from which the university will draw 5 percent annually. That means that in its first year, the $200,000 initial deposit will yield just $10,000 -- or a bit more if subsequent individual donations start rolling in.

A committee of two faculty and two staff members will decide how the money is allocated, said Dan Thornton, UNC's senior assistant director for scholarships.

"The number of awards we'll have available is dependent on how the funding level grows," Thornton said. "At first, we probably won't make more than three or four modest awards."

UNC does have one need-based scholarship available for spouses and dependents of employees. But this would be the first directed specifically at children of staffers.

Across the state, some universities do offer larger benefit programs for employees' children.

N.C. State has a program that helps pay if the children of workers attend NCSU.

Duke University will pay up to 75 percent of its tuition for the children of employees who have worked there at least five years. There is a deductible, which this year is $1,650 per semester. But students can use the tuition grant money at any institution, not just at Duke.

This year, tuition and fees at Duke amount to slightly more than $30,000, so 75 percent of that would be about $22,500.

It isn't clear just how many Duke employees use the tuition grant program. But it is a perk many workers do take advantage of, officials there say.

"It's one of our more popular benefits," said Paul Grantham, director of communications for Duke's human resources department. "We offer seminars on a monthly basis so people can get more information on it."

The Duke grant program doesn't cover admission to UNC system schools or community colleges because the deductible is higher than the tuition cost at any of those public institutions.

While Duke, a private university, has no state mandate to keep tuition low, UNC Chapel Hill does. Egan, a longtime Chapel Hill resident and graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, takes that mandate -- which is written into North Carolina's Constitution -- quite seriously.

"We've got housekeepers, dental assistants, maintenance people who don't make a lot of money," said Egan, who writes a biweekly column for The Chapel Hill Herald. "Wouldn't it be nice if the cost of a college education in this state wasn't an issue?"

Scholarship Fund to Benefit
Low-income UNC Employees

A handful of students are expected to have help with the cost of their educations from a new source next fall. The Family Scholarship Fund, which has received $200,000 in seed money from the University, is aimed at children of UNC employees who can't afford the cost of college.

The scholarships can be used at any UNC System school or any of the state's community colleges. N.C. State University has a similar program, but its fund can be used only at NCSU.

The fund is the idea of Bruce Egan, associate director for the campus Information Technology Response Center. Egan said he hopes that bringing opportunities to the families of University employees who can't afford to send their children to college will foster a greater sense of community on the campus. Already, he said, faculty members have demonstrated their support by making contributions deducted from their salaries.

"An idea is just an idea until folks roll up their sleeves and get to work," Egan said.

The inaugural candidates will apply this spring. The UNC Office of Scholarships and Student Aid will validate the need of the applicants, after which a board consisting of two faculty members and two staff members will determine the fall 2005 recipients. These students will receive the aid award for each year they attend college.

The seed money is envisioned as the start of an endowment. Egan plans to solicit interest in the fund from private donors and foundations.