Skip to content

University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Carolina Family Scholarship may move to Employee Forum

Bruce Egan

Bruce Egan

It began as a pesky question in Bruce Egan’s head.

How was it possible, he wondered, that some Carolina employees could not afford to send their own children to college? To Egan, that seemed not only unfair, but also intolerable at an institution that began as the nation’s first public university and became known as the “university of the people.”

And then another question began to form: What could he do to change it?

Some 10 years ago, Egan took that question to Chancellor Emeritus James Moeser and suggested to him the possibility of funding a need-based scholarship for the children of Carolina employees.

Out of that meeting, the Carolina Family Scholarship program was formed with $300,000 in seed money, to be sustained by a foundation. Since then, the University had added $40,000 to the fund.

Egan, who retired recently after serving as the University’s longtime information technology director, spoke to the forum on Nov. 5 with a different mission: to find a permanent home and support for the scholarship.

The forum, given its mission, Egan said, is where it belongs.

Forum Chair Charles Streeter agreed. “This scholarship is something Bruce started as sort of a grassroots effort,” he said. “It does not have a home. It is something that with our collective effort, we could help to keep going by helping to raise both money and public awareness.”

The biggest challenge continues to be fund-raising because there are far more children of employees who qualify for the scholarship than there are scholarships to give, Egan said. He estimated that 25 to 30 people a year quality for the scholarship based on financial need, but the foundation can only support about seven new scholarships each year.

“We probably need to be up to about $1 million to effectively meet the needs that are on this campus right now,” he said.

Egan said that he and Moeser understood that not every son or daughter would want to go to Carolina, or would qualify to get in. The point was to create a pathway to higher education at any N.C. community college or member institution of the UNC system.

Each year, a selection committee of two faculty members and two staff members choose recipients based on their applications and their financial need. Each recipient receives $2,000 a year for four years, provided that the recipient remains in good standing academically.

“We have been rewarded with the pleasure of serving a number of students who quite simply never would have been able to go to school otherwise,” Egan said.

In other issues, forum members talked about the constructive role they could play in helping the campus deal with the findings released last month of an eight-month investigation into academic misconduct at Carolina, which was conducted by former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein.

Because the institutional scandal involved not only student-athletes, faculty members and coaches, but also staff members, much of the discussion focused on the campus culture and what could be done to ensure that people who see wrongdoing report it without fear of reprisal.

Streeter said the forum would likely resume that discussion in January.