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Bridge Builders

Bridge Builders

The University, through private donations, awards a wide variety of need-based grants and scholarships. Incoming students are automatically considered for these awards. Award stipulation may include establishing contact with the donor.

Some students may receive grants named after “Bridge Builders” at Carolina who are trailblazing figures in University history.



Susan Grey Akers

Akers became the first female dean at UNC-CH when she was appointed to serve as the first dean of the School of Information and Library Science (formerly the School of Library Science) in 1932. Akers maintained an interest in the School, its faculty and its students until her death in 1984 at the age of 95.



Bryan Brayboy

Brayboy, a member of the Lumbee Tribe, has worked to advance the reputation of UNC-CH among Native Nations and has encouraged a generation of American Indian students to pursue and complete graduate education.



Albert Lemuel Bunker

Bunker, from Mount Airy, North Carolina, was one of the earliest Asian-American students to attend UNC and possibly the first. He enrolled in 1878.


Anne Cates

Cates was the first woman chair of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Board of Trustees. A 1953 graduate of Carolina, she has been vice chairman of the UNC-CH Board of Visitors and president of the Educational Foundation Inc. She also has served in a variety of leadership roles for the UNC General Alumni Association.



Herb Davis

Davis, holder of three degrees from UNC-CH, joined the Office of Undergraduate Admissions in 1978, where he served for three decades. He was instrumental in the significant increase in the recruitment, enrollment and retention of minority students at Carolina.



Elson Floyd

Floyd earned his undergraduate, master and doctorate degrees from UNC-CH. He held many leadership positions at the University before becoming the first African-American president of three public universities.



Henry Frye

Frye was the first black student to enter the UNC School of Law as a first-year student. He later became the first black chief justice to be appointed to the North Carolina Supreme Court.


Linwood Futrelle

Futrelle, a 1975 Carolina graduate, spent 37 years working for UNC-CH in the field of information technology, eventually serving as chair of the Employee Forum. The Forum awarded him the Three-Legged Stool Award to recognize his many contributions to the community, including helping establish the Carolina Blood Drive.



Michael Green

Green founded the American Indian Studies Program and helped establish the American Indian Center at UNC. He tirelessly advocated for the Native population and worked to connect the Native communities.



Nikole Hannah-Jones

Hannah-Jones received her master’s degree from Carolina in 2003. She is one of four founders of the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, which focuses on recruiting and retaining editors of color in the field of investigative journalism.


Larry Keith

Keith served as the assistant dean of admissions in the UNC School of Medicine. For 18 years, he also served as the director of the Medical Education Development (MED) program, the iconic pipeline program for underrepresented minorities to prepare for medical and dental school. The MED program built an outstanding national reputation and was replicated across the country.



Dan Leonard

Leonard founded the Carolina Gay Association in 1974, which was the first formal LGBTQ+ group on Carolina’s campus and the first gay student group in the Southeast. He received his Master’s degree from UNC-CH in 1974.



Jackie Overton

Overton held two degrees from UNC-CH. She served in many roles at Carolina, including chair of the Employee Forum. She spearheaded a restructuring of the Housekeeping Department to improve working conditions and implemented safeguards to protect the most vulnerable employees.


Linda Ellen Oxendine

Oxendine became one of the first American Indian women to earn a degree from UNC-CH. A member of the Lumbee tribe, she served as chair of American Indian Studies at UNC-Pembroke and Elder in Residence at UNC American Indian Center and was essential in helping preserve and disseminate knowledge of Lumbee history, language, and culture.


Colin A. Palmer

Palmer became the first African-American to serve as chairperson of a major department in the College of Arts and Sciences when he was appointed to lead the History Department in 1986. He was elevated to the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professorship by the Distinguished Professors and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1990. He remained a distinguished professor of history at Carolina until 1994.


Raj Panjabi

Panjabi received his undergraduate and medical degrees from UNC-CH. As founder and CEO of Last Mile Health, he created national networks of community health workers who bring health care to rural villages. In 2016, he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.


Daniel Pollitt

Pollitt was a former professor at the UNC School of Law and a charter member of the North Carolina Civil Liberties Union, of which he served as president from 1969-1973. He helped found the Southerners for Economic Justice and was instrumental in desegregating many shops and restaurants in Chapel Hill.


Susie Marshall Sharp

Sharp entered the UNC School of Law in 1926 as the only woman in her class. In 1949, she became the first female Superior Court judge in North Carolina and in 1962, she became the first female associate justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, where she served for 17 years. She was voted Chief Justice in 1974.



Chuck Stone

Stone was a Walter Spearman Professor at UNC-CH teaching censorship and magazine writing. He founded the Rainbow Institute, now the Chuck Stone Program for Diversity in Education and Media, which seeks to attract students of varying diversity that are interested in a career in journalism.



Weiming Lu

Lu received his master’s in regional planning from UNC-CH in 1957. He became the first graduate of Chinese descent to earn the University’s Distinguished Alumni Award. He was also a recipient of the Presidential Award from National Trust for Historic Preservation.

View Original Content

Information on Bridge Builders scholarships was originally published on unc.edu. Bridge Builders is a fund with university development that accepts donations.