Honoring our bridge builders

The scholarships are named for those who helped fulfill Carolina’s mission as a public institution and whose leadership represents the values that define the University.

After receiving nominations from the campus community and the general public, UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt has named 19 scholarships for “Bridge Builders,” individuals whose work, advocacy and personal example helped forge a more inclusive, unified and aspirational Carolina community.

The need-based scholarships will recognize people who helped unite and strengthen the Carolina community through their work and advocacy, like Daniel Pollitt, a School of Law professor who fought to desegregate Chapel Hill and advance civil rights in North Carolina, and Susie Marshall Sharp, the first woman to serve as chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. Another example is Larry D. Keith, who paved the way for hundreds of students of color to succeed in the health professions when he served as Director of the Medical Education Development program. A full list of Bridge Builders can be found on the UNC News Services website.

“By honoring these courageous Bridge Builders with scholarships in their name, we find new ways to represent and celebrate our diverse history,” Folt said. “These individuals helped strengthen our community with their advocacy, and we believe these scholarships will serve as motivation for our students to discover and thrive as they carve their own paths at Carolina.”

Folt was inspired to launch this initiative after former Carolina student Shelby Dawkins-Law made a suggestion at the Town Hall on Race and Inclusion in November 2015. Dawkins-Law recommended University leadership find more ways to honor the contributions people of color have made to the University. Folt asked Stephen Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions, to chair a special naming committee to develop a process and recommend honorees. In 2016, Folt announced the first round of scholarships, named for Noteworthy Firsts, courageous people who represent important “firsts” in the University’s history.

The Bridge Builders scholarships are included as part of qualifying students’ aid packages. Recipients will be notified of their scholarships in the coming weeks, after they’re admitted to Carolina and complete a financial aid application. A reception for the scholarship recipients to honor the Bridge Builders will be held in the fall.

Folt announced the nominating process for the Bridge Builders during University Day on Oct. 12, 2017. She invited any member of the community to nominate someone they thought was deserving of the honor. A panel of faculty and University leaders selected the 19 Bridge Builders from those nominations.

The Bridge Builders scholarships are just one way Carolina maintains its commitment as a leader in access and affordability. As part of the University’s $4.25 billion fundraising campaign, For All Kind: the Campaign for Carolina, The Carolina Edge, a new campaign signature initiative focused on recruiting top students, will seek to raise $1 billion for undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships, including the Bridge Builders scholarships, which receive donations through the History Makers Funds.