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Unrestricted dollars aid the School of Social Work

The UNC School of Social Work received two generous “unrestricted gifts” this year—money that will go a long way to support activities and programs that state dollars cannot typically fund.

The donations —an anonymous $500,000 contribution and a “major gift” from Chapel Hill residents Prue and Peter Meehan— are vital to the School’s overall efforts to support faculty, students, and programs, said Dean Jack M. Richman.

“Unrestricted funding allows us to support, among other items, faculty travel and student fees to conferences,” Richman explained. “It helps pay for food at faculty retreats and for student scholarship receptions—all of the things that we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise because we cannot use state money for them.”

One major item that the School will be investing unrestricted dollars in this year is a video-conferencing system. The system, which will be offered in one classroom of the Tate-Turner-Kuralt Building, will enable faculty members to broadcast anywhere in the world and offer speakers around and outside of North Carolina a chance to present to the School without the need to travel.

“This kind of funding gives us the flexibility to develop these kinds of ideas,” Richman said.

For Prue Meehan, who currently serves on the School of Social Work’s Board of Advisors, supporting the social work program has been a long-time passion. Although not a graduate of the School, Meehan said she appreciates the program’s mission and remains impressed with Richman’s leadership and the School’s faculty. Giving to the School just made sense, she said.

“The other reason I like to give is because of the importance of the ripple effect,” she said. “If you support students and faculty at UNC, it will ripple across the state because many of our graduates stay here.” Many of the School’s faculty are also doing research in North Carolina, she added.

With the state’s economy still recovering, School leaders understand how critical every dollar is, Richman said. More than ever, gifts play a valuable role in helping to support the School’s academic endeavors, he said.

“The bottom line is we have to look for ways to supplement our funding so that we can continue to do all the innovative and creative things that we do.”

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For more information about our fundraising priorities and the impact of giving to the School of Social Work, please contact Associate Dean for Advancement Mary Beth Hernandez,