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Former professor Hortense McClinton among noteworthy firsts recently honored

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has named existing grants and fellowships to honor courageous people who represent important “firsts” in the University’s history. Former School of Social Work faculty member Hortense McClinton–the first African American professor at UNC– is among those recently tapped for the honor.

The need-based, undergraduate awards and graduate fellowships recognize 20 other members of the Carolina community, including Sallie Walker Stockard, the first woman graduate; Henry Owl, the first American Indian to be admitted; and John L. Brandon, Ralph K. Frasier and LeRoy B. Frasier, Jr., the first black undergraduates.

Chancellor Carol L. Folt said she was inspired to launch this initiative after a Carolina student’s suggestion during a Town Hall on race and inclusion last year. She asked Stephen Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions, to chair a special naming committee to develop a process and recommend honorees. Committee members represented the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, the American Indian Center, the department of African, African American and diaspora studies, the School of Education and the office of the vice chancellor for development.

“These brave firsts paved the way for all who followed and thanks to their courageous examples, Carolina moved closer to the ideal of the University of the People,” Folt said. “The scholarships that bear the names of these extraordinary people will help deserving students make their own personal journey at Chapel Hill. We believe honoring their contributions to Carolina champions our commitment in word and deed to access and affordability for all.”

Identifying naming opportunities to honor a wider variety of important figures in Carolina’s history is one of many initiatives underway over the past year to better promote inclusion and diversity on campus.

The University plans to announce more newly named grants and anticipates additional naming opportunities later this year and in the coming years, as well as opportunities for community members to nominate possible honorees. These grants will continue to be awarded exclusively on the basis of demonstrated need.