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UNC given $5.5 million for hiring

UNC announced Thursday a $5.5 million gift from the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust and an anonymous donor to support the hiring of young faculty members.

Chancellor Holden Thorp told the Board of Trustees that the gift will allow the University to encourage junior faculty members to pursue academic careers, an important task in a time of economic difficulties when jobs available for recent graduates are scarce.

“The economy has lowered promising young minds at a time when the job market is poor,” he said. “There is a risk of a lost generation of Ph.D.’s if we don’t do our part.”

Thorp said it will benefit the University to bring promising young faculty to campus in addition to supporting a mission important to the future of higher education.

“Of course they’ll make their homes in Chapel Hill, which is good for us,” he said.

The Kenan Charitable Trust contributed $5 million to UNC, which then encouraged an anonymous donor to contribute an additional $500,000 for the same purpose.

The funds are expendable, meaning they can be used by the University immediately rather than going into the general endowment.

The gift will support three-year packages for 18 junior faculty members, made up of 14 in the College of Arts and Sciences, two in the Kenan-Flagler Business School and one each in the schools of nursing and education.

“This is very exciting,” said Karen Gil, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “It will give us an opportunity to hire junior faculty in several core areas in the College and advance key initiatives.”

The Kenan Charitable Trust is named for alumnus William Rand Kenan, Jr., from the class of 1894 and has made significant financial contributions to the University.

The trust and members of the Kenan family contributed almost $70 million to the recent Carolina First fundraising campaign.

“I think it will make a lot of recent grads feel a lot better,” said Laura Blue, a third-year Ph.D. student and president-elect of the Graduate and Professional Student Federation. “I know we’re concerned about employment when we graduate.”

Graduate students said they were pleased the University would be able to support young faculty, many of whom would be unable to find careers in academia given the current job market.

“If we’re committed to academics and research, and we’re not producing a market for them upon graduation, we’re going to have a loss of talent and intellect in higher education,” said Keith Lee, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Federation.

“This is a good thing to sustain in the market.”

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