A UNC Chapel Hill alum has committed the largest individual gift ever to the university. The $100 million dollars is for the pharmacy school.
UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt made the announcement Wednesday outside the Eshelman School of Pharmacy.
"I am almost speechless," said Folt.
UNC’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy is named for Fred Eshelman, a 1972 graduate of the pharmacy school. Eshelman made much of his money as founder and CEO of PPD, Pharmaceutical Product Development. He has already donated $38 million dollars to the school.
“We must be relentless in our pursuit of preeminence and I mean preeminence," said Eshelman.
Pharmacy Dean Robert Blouin welcomes such a gift.
"It's a phenomenal opportunity, a once in a lifetime opportunity for most of us, one that I hope will fully translate to all of the expectations that Dr. Eshelman has for us," said Blouin.
"We must accelerate, we must accelerate at the point of the idea generation and we must accelerate all the way through to its natural fruition, which might result in a cure for cancer, a cure for AIDS," said Blouin.
Governor Pat McCrory was on hand for the big announcement.
He told the crowd, the gift was one more step towards making North Carolina part of what he calls "the National Innovation Triangle."
"You have the Silicon Valley, you have Boston-New York," said McCrory. "The other choice is right here, in North Carolina, with Chapel Hill being the capitol of this National Innovation Triangle."
Eshelman's donation will fund the Eshelman Institute for Innovation, which administrators say will fuel innovation, spur economic development and create jobs. UNC's pharmacy school has already generated 131 patents and created 15 spin-off companies in the past decade.
Eshelman says his gift is an investment that had to be made.
“As you know this is a tough environment for additional state funding. And therefore, if we are in fact going to increase the pace to attain our goals, the private sector must make the investment like never before," said Eshelman.
Right now, UNC’s pharmacy school is ranked number two in the nation, behind the University of California - San Francisco. UNC System President Tom Ross said he confirmed the ranking.
“And I only have one thing to say to them, they better watch out!” said Ross, to a loud applause.