Fall 1999

UNC-CH Development

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Sowing seeds of progress:
Reeves Foundation gives to Thurston and Botanical Garden

Ed Reeves and Mercer Reeves Hubbard in the Mercer Reeves Hubbard Herb Garden.

The Reeves Foundation of Summit, N.J., has made important gifts to Carolina that will benefit people ranging from schoolchildren to the many who suffer with the disease of arthritis.

The foundation recently gave $500,000 to two areas: $167,000 to the North Carolina Botanical Garden to help build a multipurpose auditorium in the planned visitor education center and $333,000 to the Thurston Arthritis Research Center to endow, with state matching funds, a distinguished professorship in arthritis research.

The foundation gifts arrive at an important time for both units. The Thurston Arthritis Research Center is now at the midpoint of its $5 million Research Endowment Campaign, and the N.C. Botanical Garden is just beginning its fund raising for a planned $5 million visitor education center.

Dr. John Winfield, director of the Thurston Center, says, "The Thurston family launched our Research Endowment Campaign with a challenge gift that we met in 1997. The Reeves Foundation has carried that initiative forward. I am deeply grateful to Ed Reeves for recognizing the importance of arthritis research and establishing the Reeves Foundation Professorship."

J. Edwin Reeves Jr., foundation president, is a long-time member of the Thurston Center's Board of Advisors and now serves as its chairman.

The center leads research on lupus, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis and juvenile arthritis. The Thurston Center is a National Institutes of Health Multipurpose Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Disease Center -- one of only two in the Southeast. It was chartered in 1982 and now has 70 faculty researchers from 18 departments, six schools and six centers on campus. In 1994, the center moved into the new Thurston Building. The Reeves Foundation gave a named research laboratory in this building.

The North Carolina Botanical Garden's master plan calls for construction of a 25,000-square-foot visitor education center, because the garden's popular workshops, tours and programs, along with its staff and volunteers, have long since outgrown the 5,500-square-foot Totten Center. Annual visitors number about 46,000 -- including about 1,400 local schoolchildren who learn about ecology in the coastal plain and mountain habitats and enjoy the always-popular insect-eating pitcher plants and Venus flytraps.

Garden Director Peter White says he imagines the multi-purpose Reeves Auditorium as a state-of-the-art setting where a school audience can see projected images of plant tissues under a microscope, local gardeners can learn to propagate plants from seeds, community members and scholars can attend an evening lecture by a nationally-known scientist, and ecologists can hold a regional workshop on plant conservation.

"The leadership of the Reeves Foundation has challenged our other supporters to help build the visitor education center," White says. "And the foundation's gift will serve generations to come."

The Reeves Foundation and Reeves family members have a long history of sharing their time, money and talent with UNC-CH. At the N.C. Botanical Garden, a major attraction is the Mercer Reeves Hubbard Herb Garden, founded 26 years ago by Ed's aunt Mercer with funds provided by her brother John E. Reeves, one of the founders of the Reeves Foundation. Preferring to give anonymously, John also set up an endowment fund, now worth more than $350,000, which generates income to pay for the herb garden's care. Mercer also helped obtain $50,000 from the Reeves Foundation to pay part of the cost of the 1992 master plan -- a document that has guided the garden's development in the 1990s and that specified the need for a new visitor education center.

"This is a family that literally has planted seeds in Chapel Hill," says Peter White. "We're now in a second generation of Reeves donors, not to mention a second generation of gardeners and visitors who draw inspiration from the Mercer Reeves Hubbarb Herb Garden."

Ed Reeves says, "We are very pleased with what we've been able to accomplish with past gifts to the Thurston Arthritis Research Center and to the Botanical Garden. We're quite focused on youth, and we're interested in medical issues. And we support things that are lasting, such as buildings and endowments. We're proud of the results our gifts have helped to achieve."

North Carolina Botanical Garden

Thurston Arthritis Research Center

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