The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has received a $3 million gift from the John William Pope Foundation of Raleigh to upgrade facilities providing academic support to Carolina’s student-athletes.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has received a $3 million gift from the John William Pope Foundation of Raleigh to upgrade facilities providing academic support to Carolina’s student-athletes.

The gift, announced today (April 5), will fund a new home for the John W. Pope Student-Athlete Academic Support Center as part of a renovation of Kenan Stadium. The original center, which was located in the stadium’s previous field house, opened in 1986 and also was funded by the Pope Foundation. The center is named for John W. Pope Sr., a 1947 UNC graduate who started Henderson-based Variety Wholesalers and founded the Pope Foundation. He died in 2006.

“We’re committed to giving our student-athletes the support they need to succeed in the classroom as well as in their sport,” said Chancellor Holden Thorp. “This new center will epitomize that commitment. We’re extremely grateful to the Pope Foundation for its continued generosity.”

The center will serve all of Carolina’s nearly 800 student-athletes across 28 sports. Features will include classrooms for teaching and tutoring, advanced computer technology, a writing lab, reading rooms and office space.

Boasting 29,000 square feet, the new center will be more than three times the size of the former space. It will be the largest of its kind in the Atlantic Coast Conference and one of the largest in the nation.

“This is a showcase facility that will benefit student-athletes in every sport, and will allow them to continue their collective goal to be productive members of their communities,” said Dick Baddour, athletics director. “We are proud of the athletic success we have had at North Carolina and even more proud of the success our student-athletes have demonstrated academically.  

“This facility could not be possible without the generosity of our donors, and we are extremely grateful to the Pope Foundation. The Pope family has a history of providing support for UNC athletics. We are honored that this tradition continues.”

Also housed in the center will be the Carolina Leadership Academy, which offers leadership training to Carolina’s student-athletes, coaches and staff, and serves as a model for intercollegiate athletics.

“My father loved Carolina and believed strongly in excellence in both academics and athletics, that each reinforced the other,” said Art Pope, president of the Pope Foundation and the son of the late John W. Pope Sr. “The Pope Foundation is pleased to honor my father’s memory by donating funds for the John W. Pope Student-Athlete Academic Support Center at Kenan Stadium to benefit the University’s student-athletes, coaches, staff and the Carolina Leadership Academy.”

The John W. Pope Student-Athlete Academic Support Center will be housed in the Carolina Student-Athlete Center for Excellence, part of the ongoing Kenan Stadium renovation project. Scheduled for completion in September 2011, the $70 million project is being funded by private gifts and sales of premium seating.

The Pope Foundation’s latest gift follows a long history of support for the University’s athletic program and academic units, including the College of Arts and Sciences, Kenan-Flagler Business School and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Web link:  See http://NewKenan.com for more information about the Kenan Stadium renovation project.

Contacts:
Development Communications: Scott Ragland, (919) 962-0027, scott_ragland@unc.edu
Department of Athletics: Kevin Best, (919) 962-8916, kevinbest@unc.edu

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