The UNC Pembroke Board of Trustees agreed to name an endowed professorship in science education in honor of Marion Bass, a 1965 graduate and longtime friend of the university.
Bass served two four-year terms on the board of trustees beginning in 1987 and another four-year term beginning in 2005. He retired in 1999 after a successful career leading Charlotte-based Marion Bass Securities, which at the time was one of the largest regional brokerage and investment banking company in North Carolina, with 300 employees and offices in five states.
The endowment, totaling $500,000, originated from a $250,000 gift from the C.D. Spangler Foundation, Inc., that was matched by the North Carolina General Assembly’s Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust Fund. It is UNCP’s fourth chair funded by Spangler, who is president emeritus of the UNC system.
In a telephone interview with Bass and his wife, Debbie, from their Charlotte home, he called the professorship a “wonderful” honor and thanked Spangler and UNCP.
Dr. Kenneth Kitts, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, said the naming of an endowed chair is a signal honor that is a permanent legacy. “This endowment is a valuable asset for the university and a well-deserved honor for a great friend of the university,” Dr. Kitts said. “The Marion Bass name is a reminder of the great things our alumni are capable of. His career in business and his service to UNCP are an outstanding model for our students.”
The full name of the endowed chair is the Marion Bass Distinguished Professorship in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, a set of subjects often called STEM disciplines. The faculty position is in science education, although its departmental home is not finalized, Dr. Kitts said.
“An endowment like this greatly enhances a faculty position and allows us to recruit an outstanding scholar and teacher,” Dr. Kitts said. “UNCP already has a strong reputation in STEM education, and we are nationally recognized for the successful training of American Indians in the sciences. This endowment will be real asset in our science education programs.”
C.D. Spangler recommended naming the chair for Bass, whose time on UNCP’s board of trustees coincided with Spangler’s presidency of UNC. Bass thanked Spangler, who also lives in Charlotte.
“This is really wonderful!” Bass said. “I first met Mr. Spangler in 1986 when I was chair of the board. It is wonderful to be remembered in this way.”
Bass was a history major at UNCP and got into the securities business by “luck,” he said. “A friend asked me to join a brokerage company, and I was good at it. I opened my own company, sold it in 1999 and retired at 59.”
According to news stories at the time of the sale, Bass’s company bought and sold securities and brokered initial public offerings and secured investment capital for technology startups. Bass formed two other companies, one in real estate that owned 1,000 apartments, he said.
His support of the university continued on March 14. “I attended the kickoff for the 125th anniversary celebration. Hooray, hooray for Pembroke!” he said.
“It was thrilling and very exciting,” Debbie added. “After the event, we went straight to the Bookstore and bought heritage t-shirts.”