The donation by Jimmy Hitchcock, a cornerback on the Carolina Panthers football team, will help pay for the construction of the 44,500-square-foot cultural center, which is slated to begin in March 2002.
The gift was one of the five largest received by the University for the center. Last April, Tim Cobb gave the largest gift, $500,000, for the construction of a 400-seat theater.
"I have been fortunate, and giving back (to UNC) is something I have always wanted to do," said Hitchcock, who graduated in 1994. Hitchcock will have a multipurpose room named after him in honor of his gift.
The BCC opened in 1988 and is located in the Student Union. The UNC Board of Trustees approved a free-standing BCC in 1993 after adamant protests but said supporters would have to raise all the money themselves through private donations.
BCC Director Joseph Jordan said Hitchcock's donation will inspire other students, especially athletes, to give back to their alma mater. "It validates our approach to dealing with students on campus," Jordan said. "By treating them with respect, down the line it will reap benefits. He is not just donating money, he is showing his social conscience about important issues."
While on campus in the early 1990s, Hitchcock played an important role in the approval of the free-standing BCC. Recruiting other black athletes, Hitchcock formed the Black Awareness Council to raise recognition of the need for a separate building. The athletes' activism received national media attention, and Hitchcock and others spoke at campuses across the nation.
"I thought it was important for different people to learn about each other's culture," said Hitchcock, who is in his seventh NFL season. "It was a long struggle (to get the center), and it feels good to give back to a cause I fought for."
With the fund raising for construction complete, Jordan said he is looking forward to beginning construction.
The building plan has been submitted to University officials, and the two groups are completing design modifications to meet the University's criteria.