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News Release

For immediate use

Sept. 7, 2006 -- No. 409

John William Pope Foundation supports
football, academics with $2.3 million gift

CHAPEL HILL - The John William Pope Foundation of Raleigh will donate more than $2.3 million to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to support its football program and enrich the experience of undergraduate students studying Western cultures.

The football program will receive an estimated $100,000 per year from a $2 million endowment. Undergraduate students studying Western cultures as part of the College of Arts and Sciences curriculum will also receive about $100,000 annually over the next three years, subject to renewal.

"We at Carolina are grateful for the continued support of the Pope family and the John William Pope Foundation," said Chancellor James Moeser. "The late John Pope Sr. had a wonderful passion for his alma mater, and this latest generous gift from the foundation strongly reflects his personal desire to support excellence in both athletics and academics. Carolina football would not be what it is today without John. And through his involvement as a trustee, volunteer and generous donor, the University's academic programs have benefited greatly."

John Pope Sr. died on Aug. 19, 2006, after a long illness.

John Montgomery, executive director of the Educational Foundation Inc., UNC's fund-raising arm for athletics, said the Pope family had been extremely generous to the university and the Tar Heel football program.

"The Pope Foundation believes in Coach John Bunting and wants to help grow the endowment to build and maintain a first-class program," he said.

The Educational Foundation and the athletics department have emphasized building individual endowments to bolster each sport's operating budget. Dick Baddour, director of athletics, and Bunting will use the new endowment to recruit and retain outstanding assistant football coaches.

"The Pope family's generosity will help Coach Bunting have the necessary resources to better compete nationally and within the Atlantic Coast Conference," Baddour said.

Said Art Pope, foundation president, "Student-athletes greatly benefit from excellent coaching. It's no surprise that when you look around the country, the top programs have consistently strong staffs that stay together for many years. John Bunting has worked hard to cultivate and develop his current staff. He should have the resources available to reward a job well done and retain a key assistant coach who may be courted by other programs.

"My father believed in excellence in all aspects of university life, especially academics. Our family also believes coaches are teachers, and this endowment rewards excellence in their chosen discipline."

Bunting said he appreciated that sentiment. "Mr. Pope loved this great university and we are all deeply saddened by his passing. The Pope family, led by John Sr., wished to provide the head football coach the means to recognize excellence in those who teach the game to our student-athletes and in turn give us a better opportunity to keep a great staff intact. "

The other portion of the Pope Foundation's gift will support undergraduate education. In each of the next three years, the funds will pay for summer research and study abroad fellowships, as well as visiting scholars. Funding may continue beyond three years.

Moeser said the gift would help meet some of the university's highest academic priorities.

"We want more undergraduate students to have opportunities to design their own research projects with one-on-one guidance from faculty," he said. "We want more undergraduate students to experience life abroad, gaining the global perspective that is so critical to success in our increasingly global society. This gift advances both those aims."

The summer research fellowships will enable 10 undergraduate students to engage in original inquiry and scholarship in Western cultures. Students will design projects to be carried out in the United States or abroad, with help from a faculty adviser.

The five study abroad fellowships will serve students with similar interests. The fellowships will send them to learn in one of Carolina's study abroad programs that best suit their academic pursuits, such as College Year in Athens, which offers a curriculum in Ancient Greek Civilization and another in Mediterranean Studies.

The gift also will bring a visiting scholar to campus for three to five days each year. Selected by a faculty committee with expertise in Western studies, they will meet with students and faculty, teach classes, participate in readings and symposia, and offer a major public lecture.

The Pope Foundation's latest gift follows a long history of support for the university's academic and athletic programs.

The foundation currently funds the Philosophy, Politics and Economics Program with about $100,000 a year. It also has funded academic programs in the department of philosophy and a conference on Thomas Hardy and the Great Decisions Lecture Series, both in the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as the Institute for Private Enterprise Center for Competitiveness and Employment Growth in the Kenan-Flagler Business School. In addition, the student-athlete study center at Kenan Fieldhouse is named the John Pope Academic Center for Student-Athlete Development and the north side box at Kenan Stadium is also named for Pope.

The foundation's latest gift counts toward the Carolina First Campaign, a comprehensive, multi-year private fund-raising campaign with a goal of $2 billion to support Carolina's vision of becoming the nation's leading public university.

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Contacts: Steve Kirschner, athletics communications, (919) 962-2123, skirschner@uncaa.unc.edu; Mike McFarland, News Services, (919) 962-8593, mike_mcfarland@unc.edu