University of North Carolina at Pembroke officials announced today that Charlotte philanthropist Irwin Belk has donated $250,000 to help construct an athletic complex on campus. The gift represents the largest cash gift in the history of the university.
On Friday at their 1 p.m. meeting, the UNCP Board of Trustees will officially name the Track and Soccer Complex for Mr. Belk. They are also expected to name the track itself the Dick and Lenore Taylor Track for the Lumberton, N.C., couple who donated $50,000 to the project.
"We are deeply grateful to Mr. Belk for this gift, his continued support of the university and his life time of good works," said Chancellor Allen C. Meadors. "This gift will help turn our new Track and Soccer Complex into an truly outstanding facility."
The new complex includes a state-of-the-art eight-lane track, a lighted soccer field and two practice fields. With Mr. Belk's gift, the university expects to add seating for over 1,000 spectators, locker rooms, concessions, a press box, storage and office space.
"Mr. Belk's gift represents a new standard for major gifts to the university and the Athletic Department," said Dan Kenney, UNCP athletic director. "The impact of his effort will be felt by our students and the community for generations to come."
The retired president of the Belk Group of department stores has now donated funds to help construct 15 track facilities in the Carolinas.
UNCP's Mary Irwin Belk Residence Hall, which was dedicated in 1970 and is named for Mr. Belk's mother, marked the family's' first gift to the Pembroke campus. A contribution from Mr. Belk endowed a distinguished professor position in the UNCP School of Business.
Mr. Belk has a lifelong interest in track and field, stemming from his days running for UNC-Chapel Hill. He has also been a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee for 45 years and received the organization's highest volunteer award, the Olympic Order, at the Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
Mr. Belk's other philanthropic resume includes serving as president of the American Cancer Society Foundation for 40 years. He received that organization's highest award, the Merit Award in 2002.
A generous contributor to higher education in North Carolina, Mr. Belk served two terms on the UNC Board of Governors. He is a former state senator and was appointed a U.S. delegate to the 54th United Nations General Assembly.