Today the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced a $21.275 million gift from the Curtis Foundation, thanks to the generosity of Barbara and Don Curtis. The donation includes $10 million for the largest gift ever made to the UNC School of Media and Journalism, in part to build a new state-of-the-art media center to bring the forefront of the media world to Carolina students. Additional funding will create immersive extracurricular learning opportunities for students, and support the pursuit of service and excellence in both medicine and athletics.
“From his first days at Carolina, Don Curtis has dedicated his life to pioneering work in broadcast journalism,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “With the largest gift in the School of Media and Journalism’s history, the Curtis family is passing on his legacy to the next generation of journalists, creating spaces for innovation and collaboration among our students and faculty. Their generosity and commitment to Carolina, from athletics fields to the hospital and classrooms, is remarkable. This gift will keep us at the cutting edge.”
The gift to the School of Media and Journalism will support efforts to help students gain a foothold in a rapidly changing industry. Eight million dollars will fund the construction of the Curtis Media Center, a flexible space that brings together students and faculty in a collaborative environment around emerging technology. By eliminating both literal and figurative barriers in a state-of-the-art environment, the Curtis Media Center will challenge students to learn and practice their craft while working in teams. The adaptable teaching and production facilities will prepare students to lead the industry into a new era by immersing them in experiences to develop critical thinking, creativity and collaborative skills with the latest technology at their fingertips. The center will serve students and faculty from across campus as well as those in the School of Media and Journalism. Plans for the building will require approval from the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees prior to construction. The building is expected to be completed within the next four years at a site yet to be finalized.
The remaining $2 million to the School of Media and Journalism expands the existing Don and Barbara Curtis Excellence Fund for Extracurricular Activities and establishes a new fund to support programs within the school. The Curtises started the extracurricular fund in 2003 to encourage and support learning experiences outside of the classroom without the worry of cost. In the 2017-18 academic year alone, the fund allowed 43 students to gain real-world, hands-on experience critical to thriving in their chosen industry.
“These gifts are as much for the state of North Carolina as for the University,” said Don Curtis. “For all my life, the University of North Carolina has been the primary driver of progress and change. As a result, North Carolina can hold its head high as a national leader. I can think of no better investment than in medical research and the media to ensure that this progress continues and to see that North Carolina can provide the proper leadership for the future.”
“The Curtis family’s long-running generosity and dedication to our school has created life-changing experiences for countless students by funding immersive learning activities outside of the classroom,” said Susan King, dean of the School of Media and Journalism. “This gift is visionary and transformational for our school and this campus. It speaks to our values of collaboration, innovation and transparency as a public institution with a responsibility to engage with issues and inform citizens.”
Three million dollars will support the ongoing work of the UNC School of Medicine and UNC Hospitals to improve the health and well-being of North Carolinians through patient care, education and research. The UNC Athletics department will also receive $3 million to support ventures to be determined at a later date. As part of the Curtis Foundation’s $21.275 million gift, $5.275 million will fund future endeavors to be determined at a later time.
“The Curtis Family is a generous and engaged partner of UNC Medicine, sharing our commitment to excellent clinical care, leading-edge research and training physicians who will serve in North Carolina and beyond,” said Dr. Bill Roper, dean of the UNC School of Medicine and CEO of the UNC Health Care System. “For many years, the Curtises have funded important initiatives at the UNC Children’s Hospital, the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and in cardiovascular medicine. Thank you, Don, Barbara and Donna. We are honored by your new investment in UNC medicine.”
“The Curtises have long been dedicated champions of Carolina Athletics – cheering on our students during competitions while also supporting them behind the scenes,’’ said UNC Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham. “Barbara, Don and Donna believe wholeheartedly in our mission to educate and inspire through athletics, and they, in turn, have inspired us with their generosity and commitment to our University. We appreciate their gift and their investment in the future of our broad-based program and our students.”
The Curtis Foundation’s gift supports the most ambitious university fundraising campaign in the Southeast and in Carolina history, For All Kind: the Campaign for Carolina. On Oct. 6, 2017, Carolina announced its goal to raise $4.25 billion by Dec. 31, 2022. The Campaign for Carolina secured $2.23 billion by the end of fiscal year 2018, exceeding half of its dollar goal ahead of schedule. The Campaign for Carolina is inspired by the Blueprint for Next, the University’s overall strategic plan built on two core strategies: “of the public, for the public,” and “innovation made fundamental.”
A record-breaking fiscal year 2018 raised $617 million in commitments, marking the first time Carolina has ever topped $600 million in commitments. The University exceeded fiscal year 2017’s $543.3 million by 14 percent.
Don Curtis of Raleigh, North Carolina, established The Curtis Foundation in 1979. A 1963 UNC alumnus and chairman and CEO of the Curtis Media Group, Don Curtis is a former member of the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees and a 2005 recipient of the William Richardson Davie Award — the board’s highest honor recognizing extraordinary service to the University or society. Don also served as chair of the UNC General Alumni Association from 2011-2012. Together Don and Barbara Curtis are former members of the UNC Lineberger Board of Visitors and founded the UNC Children’s Hospital Radiothon which has raised tens of millions of dollars since 1998. In 2006 Carolina renamed the auditorium in Memorial Hall as the Beasley-Curtis Auditorium to honor the Curtis’ contribution in renovating the dedicated space for the arts on campus.
Barbara Curtis is a member of The Medical Foundation of North Carolina Inc. board and the UNC Cardiovascular Board of Advisors. Barbara and daughter Donna McClatchey also serve as foundation trustees. Donna Curtis graduated from Carolina in 1993 from the School of Media and Journalism. She also serves on the Carolina Women’s Leadership Council.