Attracting, retaining and rewarding top faculty

Shawn Hingtgen and his research team at Carolina developed a pioneering cancer treatment method that turns skin cells to cancer-fighting stem cells able to hunt down and eradicate tumor remnants.

But Hingtgen wouldn’t be here if Carolina hadn’t first hunted him down at Harvard Medical School and convinced him to trade the Ivy League for a public ivy.

To bolster the University’s efforts to recruit scholars like Hingtgen and to retain and reward current outstanding faculty, alumnus John G. Ellison Jr., of Greensboro, has pledged $10 million to establish the Faculty Excellence Challenge. Ellison’s gift will support incentives such as salary supplements and research funds. If met, the challenge will provide at least an additional $10 million for similar support.

The Faculty Excellence Challenge will further enhance Carolina’s recent faculty recruitment and retention efforts, which have already resulted in a 79 percent faculty retention rate and the recruitment of 94 new faculty (18 tenured, 76 tenure-track) in academic year 2015-16.

The challenge, which runs through Oct. 8, 2018, was announced by Chancellor Carol L. Folt at the Oct. 6 launch of “For All Kind: The Campaign for Carolina,” a fundraising drive with a $4.25 billion goal.

“John’s extraordinary pledge jumpstarts the Faculty Excellence Challenge and supports our mission to attract, reward and retain talented faculty who open minds and change the lives of our students,” Folt said. “John has been a dedicated Tar Heel volunteer and contributor to our university for decades. Thanks to his wonderful new investment in Carolina, we have the opportunity to champion our faculty whose dedicated work helps create our understanding of science, medicine and the humanities.”

The Faculty Excellence Challenge supports a key priority in the Campaign for Carolina — Faculty & Scholarship: The 21st Century Professoriate — which aims to raise funds to help the University attract, reward and retain top faculty amidst stiff competition from other institutions. It also supports the core pillars of the University’s overarching Blueprint for Next — “Of the Public, for the Public” and “Innovation Made Fundamental” — which uphold Carolina’s commitment to grow and evolve while remaining rooted in its public service mission.

“I have been fortunate in my life and career to have incredible teachers, mentors and leaders who invested their time and energy in my success, not just in the business world, but in every facet of my life,” Ellison said. “So many of those seminal individuals were my professors here, and their impact on my life has not only been profound, but it continues even today. I want that for every student who comes to Carolina, because they deserve it and society needs their leadership for our future.”

Ellison, chairman of Ellison Co. Inc. and a Campaign for Carolina Steering Committee co-chair, also committed artwork valued at more than $11.5 million to the Ackland Art Museum. Ellison has served on multiple University boards, including the UNC Board of Visitors and the UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities Advisory Board. He concluded an eight-year tenure on the Board of Trustees in 2011.

By Susan Hudson, University Gazette
Published Oct. 9, 2017