Brief History

A brief history of The Medical Foundation of North Carolina, Inc.

Beginnings - Dr. Berryhill and North Carolina's Good Health Program

Early in his tenure as dean of the UNC School of Medicine, Dr. W. Reese Berryhill recognized the need for funding from private sources to support his growing school. In his 1946 report, Berryhill said, “If State funds for the expansion of the medical school are provided, let me say again to the University administration that we must secure endowment from private sources. It is extremely unlikely that the State will in the immediate future, if ever, provide adequate funds for the development of an outstanding medical school and hospital."

Though Berryhill’s idea met with some opposition, that soon faded when North Carolina’s Good Health Program—an effort to improve state health through a state-wide hospital-building program, the development of a health insurance program, and an expansion of the medical school at Chapel Hill—was inaugurated the following year. With the growing support of physicians and leaders in business and industry across the state, the Medical Foundation of North Carolina was chartered on May 28, 1949.

First milestones

In January 1953, The Medical Foundation of North Carolina, Inc., not yet four years old, distributed to its donors a small, 16-page booklet. The modest, thin publication was titled “The First One Hundred Thousand,” in celebration of the Foundation’s first fundraising milestone. While the dollar amount is miniscule by today’s standards, it yielded enormous results—providing essential financial support for the then-newly opened N.C. Memorial Hospital, for instance—and marked only the beginning of the Foundation’s integral role in medical education, patient care, and research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and the UNC Health Care System.

The Foundation was led in its formative first five years by Greensboro native Lennox P. McLendon, Sr., as president, and C. Sylvester Green as executive director. Their initial goals were $100,000 in expendable funds annually, which they did meet within the first year, and a permanent endowment of $25 million. Throughout the early-mid 1950s, most of the funds the Foundation raised were used to supplement faculty and staff salaries, which was essential for the recruitment and retention of the best and brightest for the new N.C. Memorial Hospital, which opened in 1952, as well as faculty for the School, which transitioned to a four-year program the following year.

In the mid-1950s several Foundation staff changes took place: Green took a position with Wake Forest University and his spot was filled by Charles Shaffer in 1955; McLendon resigned to take a position with the Board of Higher Education and was replaced by Dr. Paul Whitaker in 1956; and Emory Hunt was hired to serve as assistant director on a part-time basis, also in 1956. Whitaker would be succeeded by Paul W. Schenck, Jr., in 1960.

The 1960s - New priorities

The 1960s introduced a new era of fundraising priorities, the most important of which was new facilities and space for the growing School and Hospital. The Foundation played an instrumental role in raising funds for the first expansion of the Hospital (the J. Spencer Love Clinic building) and the construction of the new Health Sciences Library. By the end of the decade, the Foundation would contribute its energies to a multitude of projects across the medical campus, including the construction of Berryhill Hall, the Brinkhous-Bullitt Building, and the Burnett-Womack Building. In its 1964 annual report, the Foundation reported “…the campaign for the Medical Center Expansion Program ($8,400,000) has been completed..."

During this period, the Foundation also became increasingly active in the establishment and support of scholarships for students and professorships for faculty.

In 1964, President Schenck resigned and was succeeded by Howard Holderness, who continued to lead the organization through a period of unprecedented change and growth. Of his many accomplishments as president between 1964 and 1971, Holderness created the Holderness Research Fellowships, permanently endowed support that “encourage medical student research experiences to enhance their biomedical education.” The Sarah Graham Kenan Foundation established a fund that provided for the School’s first distinguished professorship. Emory Hunt joined the Foundation as executive director in 1966, and through his recognition of the importance of alumni connections, established the Co-Founders Club in 1966. To this day, the Club continues to provide an avenue from which alumni, individuals, and corporations can contribute to non-specific but urgent needs of the School.

Foundation efforts in the late ‘60s led to the establishment of the University Air Transportation Service and the purchase of three planes, one each year from 1968-1970. This service enabled faculty to provide greater service to hospitals, physicians, and people all across the region. More planes and increased service capabilities would be added in subsequent years.

The '70s and '80s - Continued expansion and a new home

Hector MacLean took the reins as president of the Foundation in 1971, a post in which he would ably serve for the next 22 years. In the early 1980s, MacLean was instrumental in spearheading fundraising programs for specific prioritized projects, among the first of which were efforts undertaken for the construction of both the Thurston Arthritis Center and the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center, both of which opened in 1981; and the first free-standing home for the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, which opened in 1985.

Everett Nordstrom, who became the Foundation’s executive director in 1982, found the organization still growing but running out of space. The Foundation had been housed in a small office located at 229 MacNider Hall for several decades, and it, like so many other parts of the University, needed an upgrade. Plans for a move into the Coker residence fell through but finally, in February 1989, the Foundation had a new home. Nordstrom, in a memo to the Executive Committee, announced that the Foundation had become “the proud owner of an office condominium at 880 Airport Road, Chapel Hill.” A month later the staff moved in, and it has remained home to the organization ever since.

That same year, the School of Medicine and the Foundation participated in the University’s Bicentennial Campaign, and set a goal of $47 million. By the campaign’s conclusion in June 1995, the Foundation had exceeded its goal, raising $53 million.

The '90s and 00's - Declining appropriations and the Carolina First Campaign

Throughout the 1990s, the landscape of the medical campus continued to evolve and improve, through the generous private support of donors, as well as the leadership of Foundation President James Copeland, who assumed the post of executive director in 1990 and became president in 1992. Major projects that were in progress or completed in the early-mid 1990s with the help of the Foundation included: the Ambulatory Care Center, the Thurston-Bowles Building, and the N.C. Neurosciences Hospital. Additionally, construction began on the new N.C. Women’s and N.C. Children’s hospitals in 1995. During this decade, the percentage of alumni giving back to the School increased from nine percent to 49 percent.

As state appropriations as a percentage of funding revenue for the School declined in the late 1990s, the Foundation’s fundraising for new facilities, upgraded equipment, scholarships, professorships, programs and research became even more essential to the mission of the School of Medicine and UNC Hospitals than ever before. In 2000 the School of Medicine joined the University’s Carolina First Campaign with a goal of raising $250 million. These funds would be aimed at building the School’s endowment, making capital improvements, funding scholarships, and supporting programs such as the Institute for Genetic Medicine, the Center for Infectious Disease, and the Neuroscience Center.

Dr. William Roper became dean of the School of Medicine in 2004, and renewed focus on private funding and the importance of the Foundation’s work. In the Foundation’s 2003-2004 annual report, Roper acknowledged the uncertain economic climate yet framed the challenges in terms of opportunity, and recognized that in light of recent crises, the institution had “benefited greatly from the generosity of our alumni, friends, patients, foundations, and corporate partners."

David B. Anderson succeeded Copeland as Foundation president the following year, and served the Foundation until 2013. Anderson led the Foundation through the completion of the Carolina First Campaign in 2008, raising a total of $610 million—more than double its initial goal. The eight-year campaign was not only the most successful in the history of the University, but was also the fifth most successful campaign ever in the U.S. Additionally, early in Anderson’s tenure, the Loyalty Fund and Excellence Fund exceeded $1 million in combined unrestricted funds for the first time. Anderson instituted several important changes to create a more engaged Medical Foundation board, including: streamlining by-laws; adding separate standing committees for audit, governance, and finance functions; and reducing its membership to 27 from more than 70.

Today, the Medical Foundation of North Carolina faces the most challenging fundraising environment in its history. But its generous donors and hardworking staff remain dedicated to the foundation’s mission: “… to secure financial and volunteer resources for the UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health Care to provide a healthier future through medical education, research, and patient care."





Contact Us

The Medical Foundation
of North Carolina, Inc.
880 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
CB# 7565
Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514-2600
Toll-free: 1-800-962-2543
Phone: (919) 966-1201
Fax: (919) 966-5470

880 MLK Jr. Boulevard, CB#7565, Chapel Hill, NC 27514-2600 Toll-Free: 1.800.962.2543 Ph: 919.966.1201 Fax: 919.966.5470