It was the North Carolina Botanical Garden that made him stay.
He was sitting on a bench one day at the Coker Arboretum — one of many parts of the garden — when he made up his mind that he wanted to stay at UNC.
Allen went on to teach 30 years at the School of Public Health. His wife, Delight, came to Chapel Hill about 10 years ago and recognizes the impact the botanical garden had on her husband.
From then on, the Allens were in love with the botanical garden at UNC.
From that love sprouted another big decision. The Allens pledged an $8 million planned gift in the 2015 fundraising year, which ended June 30. It will be given to the garden as an endowment as part of their estate after their passing.
The garden exceeded its 2015 fundraising goals by 1,200 percent largely because of that gift.
Jim Allen said the idea to leave part of their estate to the garden really sprung from his study of population.
He said the two basic issues of the world currently are overpopulation and addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, which is due to the large population and the burning of fossil fuels.