Transformational Gift for Teacher Literacy Education

Categories: Chancellor's Messages

Dear Niner Nation,

I am pleased to share the exciting news that UNC Charlotte has received one of the largest gifts in our history, up to $23 million from the North Carolina-based Mebane Foundation. You can read more about the gift and its impact in this news article.

Over the next five years, the transformative investment will allow the Cato College of Education to greatly expand its early literacy teacher development, community engagement and research.

It is expected the gift will culminate in an endowment that will create and fund the Mebane Early Literacy Center, which will further strengthen the Cato College as a national leader in teacher literacy innovation.

The center will create a lasting legacy for the late Allen Mebane, a North Carolina-born entrepreneur and business leader who established the Mebane Foundation in 1998 before retiring as CEO and founder of Unifi in 2000. In recognition of the gift, the College of Education building will be renamed Mebane Hall.

The investment was earned through a statewide competitive process that began in the fall as the Mebane Foundation sought a college of education to serve as its partner to carry on the Mebane mission.

Through presentations and our recent partnership, the Mebane leadership saw the Cato College’s successful approach to early literacy education and our commitment to guiding future literacy educators of PreK-5 students.

Please join me in congratulating Cato College Dean Malcolm Butler; Beth Crigler, interim vice chancellor for University Advancement; Penny Hawkins, interim associate vice chancellor for development; and the Advancement and Cato College teams for the great work that secured this gift.

Our University’s selection to continue the work of the Mebane Foundation is supported by a recent independent report commissioned by the UNC Board of Governors that graded the Cato College as “strong” in the area of teaching early literacy. UNC Charlotte is the only UNC System program to receive the highest grade on the report.

Research shows that investing in early literacy education is one of the most effective ways of improving economic mobility. We look forward to growing our collaborations and partnerships in the Charlotte region and across the state to help build a brighter future for students and their families.

We are profoundly grateful to Marianne Mebane, chair of the Mebane Foundation, foundation President Larry Colbourne, and the entire Mebane Foundation Board of Directors for their confidence in UNC Charlotte.

Through this partnership, the Mebane name will continue as a gold standard for teacher readiness, fitting closely with Mr. Mebane’s belief that “the quality of our nation’s future [depends] on the education of its young people.” Together, we will create a better future for North Carolina.


Sharon L. Gaber