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Another big gift for UNC athletics

UNC-Chapel Hill has received its second big gift this week to support academic support for athletes and the ongoing expansion of Kenan Stadium.

Alumnus R. Charles "Charlie" Loudermilk Sr. has made a $7.5 million commitment to fund facilities supporting athletes as part of the Kenan Stadium renovation.

The commitment will create The Loudermilk Center for Excellence, a 150,000 square-foot facility being built on the stadium's east side. The center will serve all of Carolina's nearly 800 student-athletes across 28 sports.

As part of the Kenan Stadium renovation project, the Loudermilk Center is scheduled for completion in September 2011. The $70 million project is being funded by private gifts and premium seating sales.

The Loudermilk Center's largest feature will be the John W. Pope Student-Athlete Academic Support Center. This 29,000 square-foot facility will provide classrooms for teaching and tutoring, advanced computer technology, a writing lab, reading rooms and office space.

It also will be home to the Carolina Leadership Academy, which offers leadership training to Carolina student-athletes, coaches and staff.

The Raleigh-based John William Pope Foundation donated $3 million for that project, a gift announced earlier this week.
The Loudermilk Center will also house a strength and conditioning center for Carolina's Olympic sports programs, facilities for men's lacrosse and a visitor's locker room that can be split to host high school football championships. Other features include premium seating for fans watching football games, as well as office and operations space for the department of athletics.

"The Loudermilk Center is the heart of the Kenan project and will provide for one of the nation's top academic support facilities," said Dick Baddour, athletics director. "We are extremely grateful to Charlie for his generosity. Charlie loves his University and has supported it in so many ways. He was especially close to Charlie Justice, so it is fitting that the facility named for him is located in Kenan Stadium."

Loudermilk is chairman of Atlanta-based Aaron's Inc. A 1950 UNC graduate, he earned a bachelor's degree in commerce and now serves on the Board of Visitors of UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Pope Foundation gives $3 million to UNC

A foundation run by Wake County businessman Art Pope has donated $3 million to UNC-Chapel Hill for an academic support center for athletes.

The gift from the John William Pope Foundation of Raleigh will create the John W. Pope Student-Athlete Support Center, part of an ongoing renovation of Kenan Stadium.

The original center, which was located in the stadium's previous field house, opened in 1986 and was also funded by the Pope Foundation.

The center is named for John W. Pope Sr., a 1947 UNC-CH graduate who founded the Henderson-based Variety Wholesalers. He died in 2006.

"My father loved Carolina and believed strongly in excellence in both academics and athletics, that each reinforced the other," Art Pope said in a news release. "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 29,000-square-foot 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.

"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, in a news release. "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.  

The center will also house the Carolina Leadership Academy, which trains athletes, coaches and staff.

The $70 million stadium renovation is slated to be complete this fall. It is being funded entirely by private gifts and the sale of premium seating.

Protesting tonight's N.C. State speech by Bob Luddy

Supporters of Wake County's diversity policy are holding another protest, this time against conservative businessman Bob Luddy.

According to a press release today, Students for Social Progress at N.C. State will protest tonight's on-campus speech by Luddy. His $23,000 in donations last fall to the individual Wake County school board candidates, the Wake Schools Community Alliance and the Wake County Republican Party made him the largest financial backer of the new board majority.

The protesters are also targeting Art Pope and the Pope Family Foundation tonight.

N.C. State students to protest Art Pope's ties to school board majority

Critics of the new Wake County school board majority are again hammering the connection between board members and conservative businessman Art Pope.

A group of N.C. students sent out a press release today announcing plans to protest tonight's on-campus speech that's organized by a group funded by the John W. Pope Foundation. According to the press release "protesters will voice their concerns about the role this ideological foundation has played at their University and as a force behind the new Wake County School Board majority."

"How much influence have [Pope']s dollars had on my education, and how much money are he and his buddies spending to install misguided puppets who are set on dismantling Wake County's nationally recognized diversity policy and sending us back to the Jim Crow segregated South?" said Vidya Shankar, an NC State undergrad, in the press release.

NCSU gets $700K from Pope Foundation

The Raleigh-based John William Pope Foundation has given $700,000 to N.C. State to support teaching and research related to public policy, politics, economics and the law.

The five-year grant is an extension of previous funding from the Pope Foundation and will continue funding NCSU's "Economic, Legal and Political Foundations of Free Societies" project.

The grant will also continue to support The Society for Politics, Economics and the Law, a student group.

The new money will provide new funds for visiting scholars, project enrichment materials and administrative support, according to this news release from NCSU.

The Pope Foundation is a nonprofit organization that has long supported conservative causes. Its name will surely ring a bell at UNC Chapel Hill, where back in 2004 some faculty objected to a foundation proposal to give at least $500,000 a year for five years to create a western studies program.

That initiative was abandoned, but the foundation later donated $2.3 million to UNC-CH, much of which was used to create an investment fund to raise the salaries of assistant football coaches.

But $300,000 from that gift created new study-abroad and summer programs for undergrads studying western cultures.

For a better idea of where the Pope Foundation puts its charitable donations, click here.

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