A $2 million donation from the University of North Carolina General Alumni Association will establish an endowed scholarship fund to help qualified military-affiliated students graduate from Carolina debt-free.
Military-affiliated students eligible for the Carolina Covenant scholarship program will also be eligible for the Lieutenant Colonel Bernard W. Dibbert Carolina Covenant for Military Families Endowed Scholarship Fund, with priority given to North Carolinians, thanks to the donation from the alumni association. The Carolina Covenant program gives students from low-income families the opportunity to graduate without loan debt.
This gift contributes to the Red White and Carolina Blue Challenge set by Debbie and Steve Vetter. The Vetters challenged the Carolina community to match their $20 million donation to ultimately contribute $40 million toward more scholarship opportunities for students from military families by the time the University’s fundraising campaign, For All Kind: the Campaign for Carolina, ends on Dec. 31, 2022.
“Our students from military families have often been asked to go above and beyond the call, and we’re delighted and humbled to be able to support them in this way,” said Steve Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions. “The Red, White and Carolina Blue Challenge is just one of the many ways we help deserving low-income students afford a world-class education. I know that the students who receive Lt. Col. Dibbert’s scholarship will recognize his sacrifice and be proud to bear his name.”
The GAA named this endowment in honor of both GAA President Doug Dibbert and his father, Army Lt. Col. Bernard W. Dibbert. The senior Dibbert served in World War II, the Korean War and was a Ranger and company commander with the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg. A master parachutist, he completed his 100th jump before being deployed to Vietnam. Lt. Col. Dibbert was killed while serving in Vietnam. His military honors included the Silver Star, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Army Commendation Medal.
“Carolina remains proudly committed to access and affordability, which is especially important to military families,” Dibbert said. “I cannot think of anything our association’s volunteer leaders could do that pleases me more than to honor my father by ensuring that there will forever be Carolina Covenant students from military families with scholarships that bear my dad’s name.”
The GAA also wanted to honor the outstanding service and leadership of Doug Dibbert as chief executive officer of the association since 1982. Dibbert also serves as president of the association. In addition to his work with the GAA, Dibbert has served on the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, as president of the Council of Alumni Association Executives and as chair of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. In 2015, he received the Frank L. Ashmore Award for service to CASE and the profession of alumni relations.
During Dibbert’s tenure, the GAA greatly expanded the scope of its services, programs and communications to inform and engage the University’s nearly 330,000 alumni. Under Dibbert’s leadership, the GAA raised more than $12 million to build the George Watts Hill Alumni Center and has fostered a deep commitment to scholarships. As of 2017, the association has awarded more than $1.25 million in scholarships to more than 700 students.
“With this gift, we will provide access to Carolina for many deserving students who are members of military families,” said L. Ferguson “Ferg” Norton of Wilmington, chair of the GAA Board of Directors and a retired Navy rear admiral who was in Navy ROTC at Carolina.
Established in 1843, the GAA has a history from its earliest years of making contributions to the University. GAA members have been key financial supporters to the Campaign for Carolina, contributing 83 percent of alumni donations to the campaign in fiscal year 2018. The most ambitious university fundraising campaign in the Southeast and in University history, the Campaign for Carolina launched in October 2017, with a goal to raise $4.25 billion by the end of 2022. By the end of fiscal year 2018, the Campaign for Carolina exceeded 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.”