Donald Tarbet left $3 million of his estate to the School of Education — the largest donation in the school’s history.
“This gift comes at a time when we haven’t been able to give faculty raises of any substance for five or six years now,” said Bill McDiarmid, dean of the School of Education. “Having resources to support faculty is more critical than ever.”
Tarbet, who died in 1995, left his estate in the hands of his wife of 54 years, Justeen, who died in January 2013. Donald Tarbet began teaching at UNC in 1952 and eventually became director of the Summer School in 1969.
“He wanted to make sure everything the University did supported the growth and development of his students,” McDiarmid said.
Tarbet was involved in the creation of several educational programs on UNC-TV and was a passionate advocate of using technology to improve education.
Donald Bowden, Tarbet’s nephew and a professor of biochemistry and genomics at Wake Forest, said his uncle’s true passion was helping his students find innovative ways to learn outside of the classroom.
“I think that fundamentally, this concept that you should be able to reach people beyond sitting in a classroom is still at the forefront of education research today,” said Bowden, who helped administer the estate.
Bowden said he believes his uncle made the donation as a way to give back to the school that was a part of his life for so long. He said the Tarbets specified the fund be used for faculty support and research, and he hopes the school will use the money to do more than just pay the bills.
“He would have wanted it to enhance, improve and strengthen the School of Education, and improve its standing on both a local and national level,” Bowden said.
McDiarmid said they are still in the process of allocating funds in a way that ensures faculty see the greatest benefit from this gift.
“Faculty feel like the best use of the donation would be to provide graduate student support, support for faculty research projects and those developing new programs within the school,” he said.
A large portion of the fund came from the sale of the family’s farmland in Tarbet’s home state of Missouri.
“We are thrilled by this expression of generosity and enduring love that Justeen and Donald had in our School of Education,” said Wendy Borman, assistant dean for external relations, in a press release. “This gift will serve as a legacy honoring their devotion to our school.”
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