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News Release

For immediate use

March 1, 2007

Philosophy department benefits again
from BB&T foundation’s support

CHAPEL HILL – The BB&T Charitable Foundation has given $1 million to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill philosophy department for the second time in four years.

The gift continues the foundation’s support of rational reflection on – and critical engagement with – fundamental philosophical principles.

“At BB&T, we believe that ideas have a profound impact on human action,” said John Allison IV, chairman and chief executive officer of BB&T. “An individual’s philosophy ultimately determines how he lives his life.

“As a business institution, we are particularly interested in the impact of ideas in the sphere of economics from the very broadest context,” said Allison, who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UNC in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

BB&T’s Web site describes a corporate culture built around 10 primary values that are consistent, integrated and put into practice. The company’s focus on values grows from a belief that ideas matter, and that an individual’s character is of crucial significance (

In 2002, the BB&T foundation made an initial five-year, $1 million grant to the philosophy department, part of UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences. The current grant cycle ends in 2007, and BB&T has renewed its commitment with a five-year, $1 million grant that will begin in January 2008.

The second $1 million gift shares the goal of the first gift: to support visiting scholars who are experts in at least one of these areas: Aristotle and theories of human nature, ethics and economics, social and political philosophy, or objectivity and values. The gift also will continue support for research and undergraduate and graduate programs in philosophy.

Since 2002, the philosophy department has brought in visiting faculty who are experts in issues including moral and political philosophy, individual rights, democracy, distributive justice, philosophy of law and business ethics – thanks to BB&T’s support.

The original BB&T gift also helped support the development of a minor in philosophy, politics and economics, which focuses on classic and contemporary work in political economy and moral theory. The minor explores, among other things, the nature of capitalism and the principles of democracy and representative government.

The Fiske Guide to Colleges has repeatedly named philosophy among UNC’s strongest undergraduate programs. In addition, a recent national survey, The Philosophical Gourmet Report, ranks UNC’s philosophy program in the top 10 in the country.

Dr. Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, professor and chair of philosophy, said BB&T’s gifts bring extraordinary vitality to the department.

“Thanks to BB&T’s remarkable support, we have attracted first-rate faculty, introduced new courses, started innovative programs and brought in a range of exciting speakers,” he said. “There is no way to adequately express in words the difference BB&T’s commitment makes.”

The new gift counts toward the Carolina First Campaign, a comprehensive, multi-year, private fund-raising campaign to support Carolina’s vision of becoming the nation’s leading public university.

BB&T Corp. is a financial holding company with $121.4 billion in assets. With more than 30,000 employees, BB&T’s bank subsidiaries operate more than 1,400 branches in 11 states, including North Carolina, and Washington, D.C.

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College of Arts and Sciences contact: Kim Weaver Spurr, (919) 962-4093,
BB&T contact: Bob Denham, (336) 733-1475